MIAMI, USA – To contribute to economic growth and recovery efforts, Microsoft commissioned FrontierView, a global market intelligence and advisory firm for multinationals, to analyze the impact of COVID-19 on industries in different Caribbean countries. The “Roadmap to Economic Recovery: The Caribbean” details how new technologies can help governments, businesses, and citizens to accelerate recovery and emerge stronger from the pandemic and achieve higher income levels.
Economic recovery in key sectors
As a region, it is likely to take several years for the Caribbean’s economy to rebound to pre-pandemic levels. However, it is important to note that there will be significant differences between industries.
Among those with faster recovery times are construction (infrastructure projects), the pharmaceutical industry, medical technology equipment, and agriculture with pre-pandemic income levels reached during the first quarter of 2021. By contrast, retail, manufacturing, extractives, construction (residential and commercial), and hospitality and tourism would not recover this level of income during 2021.
“The health emergency took digital transformation to a whole new level, condensing years of technological progress over a period of months. Now, as Caribbean governments, businesses, and citizens adapt to a new normal, technological capabilities such as cloud, artificial intelligence, and process automation will be critical to increasing their resilience to face new scenarios and accelerating their recovery to a sustained growth phase,” emphasized Herbert Lewy, general manager of Microsoft Caribbean.
Investment in technology accelerates operational growth
FrontierView’s study identified technology investments that would accelerate the recovery of 14 sectors, including the government, according to their current needs and investment profiles:
- Transformative investments: highlights companies that entered the pandemic with a strong financial position, were not as heavily impacted, or perhaps even accelerated their sales during the pandemic. This robustness will enable them to pursue much more ambitious digital transformation plans. Here we have the IT and telecom, health (pharmaceutical and medical equipment), financial services, and utilities sectors. The technologies that stand out are:
- Remote collaboration, process migration, and customer interaction solutions to new online platforms.
- End-to-end digitalization of the supply chain and automation of industrial processes.
- Creation of own platforms for e-commerce and strengthen data platforms and the use of AI for personalized customer targeting.
- Productivity solutions: companies in this group were heavily impacted by COVID-19 or were in less favorable financial positions. These companies will focus more on finding process efficiencies and accelerating their sales during the recovery phase. Industries impacted include agriculture, construction, mining, manufacturing, and retail (non-durable). The technologies that stand out are:
- Demand and revenue predictive analytics tools.
- Penetration of online channels such as e-commerce, online marketplaces, and omnichannel strategy creation.
- Data collection and analysis platforms to generate information for decision making.
- Cash generation solutions: companies in this category are in the most delicate position, having been most aggressively impacted by the pandemic. They should prioritize investments that help them protect or generate cash flow to ensure their commercial and financial viability. Industries in this bucket include retail (durable goods), restaurants/leisure, hospitality/tourism, and oil & gas. The technologies that stand out are:
- Virtual agents and e-payment solutions.
- Tools to manage the project lifecycle and demand forecasting based on predictive metrics.
- Digital tools for portfolio management and sales effectiveness.
- Cost-conscious transformation: this category applies solely to the public sector, as governments have taken a major hit during the pandemic, but they still have a strong capacity and willingness to invest. Despite plunging revenues and a slow recovery ahead, governments can more easily finance bold transformative investments by tapping into debt, public savings, and fostering public-private partnerships (PPPs); however, these must be cost-conscious and effective actions to preserve fiscal credibility and strengthen the recovery. The technologies that stand out are:
- Healthcare procurement solutions and digital tools, including telehealth, to expand access to health resources at a lower cost.
- Digital tax solutions that modernize the system, reduce fraud, curb evasion, and promote formality.
- Digital platforms to promote remote access to government services; citizen support through AI-powered chatbots.
Access the full report
To access the complete report that analyzes the response, technologies used in response to COVID-19 and technological investments to accelerate economic recovery in various sectors of the Dominican Republic, you can access the document here.