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Caribbean Tech Maven Ingrid Riley, who kickstarted Jamaica’s Tech Startup Community and facilitated and promoted tech entrepreneurship and innovation across the Region, is taking her 15 years experience in Technology to Medical Cannabis Industry.
“Cannabis has a stigma, awareness, and business inclusiveness problem, so I want to help change that, by connecting people to the wellness and wealth opportunities in the Industry,” Riley who won a Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica ( PSOJ)  50 Under 50 Game Changer Award for her pioneering work with tech startups.
Now based between New York and Kingston, Jamaica, the seasoned and award-winning Digital Strategist, who has worked with brands such Digicel, Jamaica Tourist Board, Grace Kennedy Foods, JMMB, Geejam and ICD Group as well as produced over 200 Caribbean Technology events, launched her Cannabis Marketing Agency, The Maverick Media Group while in Atlanta this March.
“We are bringing value to the Caribbean, US Diaspora, and Canadian markets by enabling Cannabis brands to connect with influencers and consumers through non-traditional means to build brand awareness, loyalty, and their business. So, we offer digital media, content marketing, customised events, and business consulting services. Additionally, we have our own media site, 420Caribe.xyz that creates and curates news on the Cannabis business, lifestyle, and trends. A podcast is also in the making and we have confirmed events coming up in Jamaica and New York shortly,” Riley explained.
According to a new report by Grand View Research, the Global Green Rush is expected to reach USD$146.4 billion by the end of 2025, and the Caribbean has started to position itself to grab a share of the medical marijuana industry, especially in the intellectual property, Cannabis tourism, Wellness, Edibles, and other sub-sectors. 
“ It really wasn’t a difficult decision to make, as I’ve been tracking the Global Cannabis business and trends for the last 4 years as decriminalisation and legalisation unfolded. And I asked myself, what can I do for this industry, for the community? What value can I add to the marketplace with the skills and experience that my team and I have? How can we increase awareness of the wellness benefits of marijuana and help key groups capitalise on the business opportunities,”  she said.
Riley shared also, that she has been on a Cannabis industry tour in the United States since July 2018, to deepen her knowledge of the intricate and ever-changing laws, business models and products, as well as to speak on the status of the Caribbean Cannabis business.
That said, she has not totally left the Caribbean Tech Industry behind, Ingrid Riley still consults, blogs and host influencer gatherings that connects entrepreneurs and investors under the SiliconCaribe brand and also speak at tech events.  “I’ve committed 20% of my time to that, the other 80% is focused on growing the Cannabis Marketing Agency, which of course is highly dependent on and integrates technology in many ways.”
The Maverick Media Group with its team members based in Jamaica, New York, and Toronto, is committed to amplifying stories about the people, products and places driving the trends and shaping the future of Legal Cannabis – that’s going digital, becoming more inclusive, embracing its fringes and showcasing itself in fresh ways.
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Microfinancing firm Sprint Financial Services has introduced two new business lines, purchase order financing and transfers of PayPal payments through newly developed portal SprintFinx.com.

The online portal will facilitate settlement of PayPal transfers within 24 hours, says Sprint Financial CEO Christopher Barrett, at one-fifth the rates that merchants now face.

Barrett told the Financial Gleaner that local merchants have upwards of US$60 million in PayPal accounts. He is planning to tap that market by cutting ­settlement periods for payment of goods and services sold internationally, from over two months through PayPal to a day.

PayPal does not transfer funds to Jamaican bank accounts. Instead, payees request US dollar cheques that take 30 days or a month to be issued. The cheques then take another 40 days to clear Jamaican bank accounts.

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JAMAICA’S leading information technology magnate Douglas Halsall still has a little way yet to complete his current fixation, which is to fully digitalise operations at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI), Mona.

But he has already moved on to his next inclination, which is to start the Caribbean’s first major Internet retailer business, which he boasts will have virtually everything that giants in the business, like Amazon and Alibaba, now have. Except that it will be focusing on products from Jamaica and other Caribbean islands.

“The assault on the mall, like Amazon’s, will happen right here,” Halsall boasted, as he explained his latest passion in an interview at the head office of his company, Advanced Integrated Systems (AIS), Oxford Terrace, Kingston 5.

“I believe in George Bernard Shaw’s statement, that some men see things as they are and ask why. And I dream of things that never were and ask why not,” Halsall said in a burst of emotion that affirms his character of always thinking way outside the box.

“I am saying, let me make it happen. It’s going to happen. It must happen,” he emphasised.

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by Matthew Cowen

Paradigm shifts

Much like the industrial revolutions we have been experiencing since, well, practically the birth of man, technological advances can be thought of in terms of paradigm shifts. Each shift brings about changes to the models of business and the usage of technology in business.

If we concentrate on more recent times, where technological advances have produced software, we note that software was often an afterthought to hardware. In fact the original Apple computers, the Apple I and Apple II, were first and foremost hardware solutions to burning questions in Steve Wozniak’s mind at the time. He designed ever more powerful and elegant solutions using the same or more limited hardware. Steve brilliantly made Apple computers colour, when others were still struggling to control monochrome computers at the same quality. But this revolution was contained in home computer land and didn’t arrive until later in business-land.

So what did business-land look like? I covered a large part of this in Issue 2:

Hardware

Hardware, as the name suggests, makes up the bottom most layer of the stack. Hardware is essentially the items that physically construct the IS in its entirety. Servers, routers, switches, personal computers, printers, terminals, mobile devices are all hardware regardless of their ultimate function.

Arguably, today in our cloud world, the server and its associated support hardware (routers etc.) are the most important elements of our information systems. Various categories of serveurs are in use, with the most popular being applications servers, directory servers, communications servers, communications servers, database servers, file servers, media distribution servers and more generically, web and proxy servers.

The democratisation of the server happened in the 1990’s. Something that happened on the back of the popularity of the personal computer, companies like IBM, DEC and Compaq (now HP) disrupted the mainframe and mini business by producing what were essentially souped-up personal computers that neatly fit into to businesses of all types and sizes, providing simple server-based functions for running the company.

This gave life to the Client/Server Computing model, where we see a distinction between the roles of each part of the system. Clients present results and help formulate demands, but the bulk of the work is done at the server-level. The acceleration of Intels processors only made this model more and more compelling, with even the smallest of organisations able to have a calculation power orders of magnitude higher than anything they had imagined not even a decade ago.

That article essentially covers paradigm shifts 1 and 2; from Mainframe and dumb terminal (paradigm 1) and Client/Server computing (paradigm 2). Client/Server was made possible because of the rise of personal computers which in turn allowed the development of thousands of specialised business applications (the Client part of the model) on the local device to use the back-end data bases on the Server.

Paradigm 3 and beyond is all about Cloud. The Cloud era ushered in the generalisation of Web Apps that enabled millions of business applications on both desktop and mobile. These were, and still are, being produced and adopted at ever increasing speeds. Largely because they require lower upfront costs and offer businesses the capacity to be up-to-date with minimum fuss. Updating a legacy Cloud/Server ERP application was akin to a 50-man expedition to the North Pole, expensive, slow, disruptive with almost no guarantees that it would be successful.

Web Apps

Although Web Apps are absolutely of the same ilk of applications in the Client/Server paradigm they are fundamentally different in implementation. At its most basic a Web App is a Client in the Client/Server model, running some code locally and searching for data on the big bad back-end server.

Where they are different is that the client evolved into being a disposable piece of software itself. No installation is required, no updating, no conflict management with other locally installed applications.

Web Apps became a reality with the advent of dynamic web pages, around 1995. Previously web pages were delivered as static pages from the server in basic HTML, Hyper-Text Markup Language, which was the way to format a text file, transport it across the Internet using http (see Issue 2) and display it on a client, often called a browser. Netscape changed all of that with the introduction of client-side scripting using a newly minted programmable language (Java) invented by Sun Corporation in 1999, called JavaScript.

This allowed the dynamic inclusion of information and the validation of input by the user by running various scripts locally in lieu of re-sending a whole new page each time a change was registered.

Then Macromedia got involved and released Flash in 1996, to be subsequently bought by Abode in 2005. Flash was a revolution for the web in that it allowed not only for dynamic text but additional real media to be integrated to a web page. We’ve all seen those old splash screens saying “Loading…”, in the late 90’s and early 2000’s they were all Flash-based. But it wasn’t until 1999 that the term Web App was officially coined under the new Java Servlet specification.

It is only after this point that Google enters the world, being incorporated in 1998. Google developed what has become the definitive web app, search, winning on technical merit and a business model aligned to extract profit from that value chain, Advertising. Everything else Google does is either a “moonshot” or a distraction.

Why Digital Transformation is different

The title of this issue correctly explains why Digital Transformation is different, it’s a journey and not a project or destination, if you will.

Traditional IT and digitalisation is predicated on the understanding of a simple or single need, researching the solution to that need, then developing a project to procure the right hardware, software and talent to buy, install, integrate and maintain. There is a clear beginning, a clear goal and a clear end, nobody in the project is unaware of these elements. In fact in most situations these goals a clearly defined in a specifications document and signed off by all stakeholders.

Digital Transformation more closely resembles a penalty shootout whereby not only the goalposts move, but the participating teams are constantly changing and the rules of the shootout are modified in relation to the who scored or not, when and how. That’s extremely frightening for a business as the risks of failing are high. However, as I’ve previously mentioned opportunity costs are to be taken into account too. What is the risk of doing nothing?

Where Digital Transformation goes much further than traditional IT, is in the implication and necessity to change over the whole organisation and the entire value chain, from suppliers, through production and operations all the way to sales and service. Simply keeping up with technological advances — newer faster computers, mobile devices, new applications be them traditional or SaaS and new management structures — is not enough.

As you’ve no doubt spotted the biggest difficulty for an organisation is the resistance to change, which is why I personally believe that Digital Transformation is essentially one big change management exercise. Bringing people with change management skills in to the organisation — even if on a temporary basis — is key to succeeding in Digital Transformation.

One thing is sure, without C-level support in your organisation, it’s going to be extremely difficult to successfully transform your company. Many C-level executives already have too much on their plate and are woefully under educated or aware of the implications of Digital Transformation. Fortunately some recognise this and appoint specialists in those positions. Often called CDO, Chief Digital Officers, they have the responsibility for (although not limited to), driving digital adoption, culture change, change management and value chain development for their business. Again, bringing in help from outside the organisation is beneficial when their remit is specifically targeting to Digital Transformation.

Matthew Cowen writes on Digital Transformation. He is the founder of Founder at dgtlfutures.com

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Facebook and the accelerator parallel18, an initiative of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology, and Research Trust, are partnering to launch Startup Hub Caribbean on the 25th of March 2019. The program will support 10 technology startups that have outsized social impact potential and are focused on improving the lives of communities across the Caribbean. Startups selected for the program will receive support to scale their efforts and improve their products and services, to better tackle the myriad of fundamental challenges facing the region, as well as scale internationally.

Facebook will provide technical support, mentorship, training on the use of Facebook products and tools, free access to a suite of products and services, and access to dozens of experts within the company.

The program will also provide startups support from other mentors, a space for operations during the term, thematic workshops, access to a network of top-tier experts, investors, and other partners of parallel 18.

Startups with the following characteristics should apply: a for-profit enterprise with an established base of operations in the Caribbean, less than 4 years since date of incorporation, have a product/service generating revenue in the market, whose focus is on generating value for the Caribbean region, and are looking to expand internationally. The product or service should also address one of the following social impact issue areas of importance to the Caribbean region: gender equality, decent work and economic opportunity, sustainable industry or infrastructure, climate change, and/or peace, justice, and strong institutions.

“Technology startups have an incredible potential to transform the community, which is why we believe in supporting the entrepreneurs of the Caribbean to drive sustainable development in the region”, expressed Susana Tuli Cipriota, Head of Developer Programs for Latin America.

“For the parallel18 team, this collaboration is a dream, because we know the amazing work happening across the Caribbean, and we’re excited to support them to scale and translate their success to other markets. We know the potential that technology innovation has to transform our island communities and drive sustainable development for Puerto Rico, and the region, where we have been operating now for over 3 years”, said Sebastian Vidal, Executive Director for parallel18.

The application window for the accelerator program will be open from March 25th to April 18th. 10 startups will be selected by a panel of experts and will receive their invitations to the accelerator in May. Interested startups can find more information here http://www.startuphubcaribbean.com

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Chairman of the Jamaica Esports Initiative (JEI), Gregory Moore, has hailed the association’s acceptance into the International Esports Federation (IEF).

Moore said the move by the world body came as a direct result of the JEI’s strong participation in the sport for a number of years.

The JEI is the first Caribbean country to be accepted by the international body, and Moore said because of their long history of hosting tournaments, it was easy for the IEF to include them among the 55-member organisation.

“We had to show our history of video gaming in Jamaica in terms of events, and we were able to do that based on our record of putting on events. The last one we hosted was in 2016, and we attracted more than 500 persons. Of this number, 300 were gamers. We showed the IEF that we are capable of doing this type of thing,” he explained.

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I did a pilot episode last October that went very well. So my SiliconCaribe podcast will return on Tuesday. April 2nd. The focus remains: Taking You To That Part of the #Caribbean That’s Beyond the Beach and Going Digital, focusing on Entrepreneurs doing amazing things with #Tech.

Listen to the Pilot Episode here

To sponsor please contact me at ingrid@siliconcaribe.com for rates.

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by Adrian Gulliver

There’s no doubt about it – live streaming is transforming the world as we know it. The latest way for industries across the globe to transform and evolve their offerings, we’re seeing it used everywhere from sports media to online casinos.

No matter who it is that’s taking advantage, the overarching goal is always the same: to add a more immersive nature and an increased immediacy to the user experience. Live streaming, by its very nature, is intended to make viewers feel like they’re right there in the moment, living the on-screen experience first-hand. And more and more content producers are taking advantage of this.

From the excitement of the Caribbean Cricket Premier League to the glamour and glitz of real-life casinos, we take a look at just a few of the industries that are using live streaming to enhance and improve their products. 

A more immediate sporting experience 

Source: Pixabay

Those passionate about the subject would unanimously agree that spectator sports can only be fully appreciated by those who are there to witness their happenings in the flesh. But thanks to technology, this experience is opening up to a whole new audience.

Doing away with the often prohibitive prices of attending matches, live streaming is bringing real-time sporting events into our homes, as was recently demonstrated by the Caribbean Cricket Premier League, which live streamed every one of its 2018 matches to a global audience.

Cricket is not the only sport to have done this: all around the world, people are finding that they can tap into websites that offer live coverage of their favourite events, from football to hockey, tennis, basketball, baseball, cycling and more. The result: anyone with access to the internet can experience the untainted pleasure of sporting thrills and spills first-hand.

Immersive entertainments 

Source: Pixabay

It’s not just the global sporting industry that has been able to deliver an improved user experience thanks to live streaming technology: the world of entertainment is also being transformed. One need only look at professional gamers for proof of this, with a number of individuals actually earning a living from streaming themselves as they play popular MMO games like Starcraft and Hearthstone.      

The appeal of watching this sort of video content is obvious: the less talented but still enthusiastic get to experience their favourite characters and worlds vicariously through the eyes of someone with a level of skill they can only dream of possessing.

It isn’t only gamers who wish to see new worlds opening up before their eyes. Lots of gambling sites now utilize a medium known as live casino, which gives users the chance to play both paid and free casino games against real-life dealers using their phone or computer. The result is to bring the magic of the casino into the comfort of your own front room, thus offering a more immersive experience than online providers have ever reproduced before.

More exclusive forms of entertainment have been doing the same, with everything from live concerts to ballet productions making their content available in real time online. This has brought these mediums to consumers who would never be able to access them in their everyday lives, due to finances or geography or even socio-cultural norms, helping to bring the most wonderful experiences into homes from all around the world.

Live streaming is, quite simply, transforming our lives and the way we live them. We couldn’t be more excited about the thousands of possibilities it’s opening up for each of us.

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The Caribbean Blockchain Alliance (CBA) is seeking to engage The Bahamas government in discussions around potential regulatory framework to direct the industry’s growth and help advance it to the heights seen by regional counterparts.

With huge steps taken by countries like Bermuda and Barbados, CBA head Stefen Deleveaux said many companies were already looking at the Caribbean region for potential business opportunities. But, he noted that operating within a gray area now would only hinder future business growth.

“You can have individual companies doing things, but we need to be operating as a region and as a block in terms of finance and growth,” the Bahamian-born blockchain specialist told Eyewitness Business. “That’s why it’s important now to keep everyone on the same page, so no one goes too far now and the rules change later. So we are pushing for and collaborating on the best kinds of regulations and the best ways government can interact with blockchain in general.”

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It seems like everyone has a start-up idea. Some people have turned their ideas into a massive success while others are still waiting for their turn. If you are among those who are yet to come up with an idea, you need to catch up. These tips will help you extract those creative juices and have a plan that could work.

Solutions to problems

The primary goal of businesses is to solve a problem. When you are hungry, you go to a restaurant or head to the supermarket. If you feel cold, you purchase a jacket in a store. Businesses need to meet the demands of many people and help address their concerns. If you are searching for a start-up idea that could work, you need to start by identifying the pressing problems faced by many people and think of a product or service that could help address those issues.

Delve into your passion

You do not need to be in distant places to feel inspired. Ask yourself what you want and what you are passionate about. You will then determine what type of business you can pursue. You might find excellent ideas out there that are most likely going to make tons of money. The problem is that those ideas are not in line with what you want. You cannot succeed in those areas even if there is a significant market out there. If you love photography, think of a start-up business that has something to do with it.

Create a problem

It might seem ironic, but it is how several start-ups succeeded. Just look at the massive success of social media. Up until a few years ago, no one thought that they needed social media. People were happy talking to each other and communicating using other tools. When social media became a hit, people realised that they could not live without it. The social media start-ups created that problem, and they also addressed it. Using this strategy can be a bit tricky, so you need to be extra cautious.

Modify existing products

You do not need to have something new all the time. You can look at existing products and services and determine how you can improve them. Look at the competing brands for mobile devices. After several years, they are still doing mobile phones. The only difference is that the devices released several years ago do not have the same features as the recent releases. You can also see how one brand comes up with innovative features to compete with the other brands.

Learn from others

It helps to study how other businesses succeed. Check their vision. Review their business plan. Ask their customers how they feel. Study their marketing campaigns. For instance, you might see start-ups still investing in a rollup banner in the age of social media. Find out why they are using this strategy, and how it helps them succeed. You can learn a lot from what others did in the past and use it as inspiration to do better.

With the use of these strategies, it will be easy for you to come up with something interesting that could be potentially successful.

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