Covid 19 Forces a Rush to Implement Digital Transformation

The COVID 19 period has redefined the new normal in the world. Whether a small, medium or large business, business models have had to be rejig deliver goods and service safely and economically. Government departments comfortable for decades with operating under layers of bureaucracy have been forced to join the rush to deliver services via electronic channels.

To the credit of the Mottley government a high priority was already being given to a digital transformation program before the pandemic struck. The nature of the coronavirus pandemic has given greater urgency to implementing government’s digital transformation program in both private and public sector.

It was timely to travel to the St. George North branch meeting to hear first hand Minister of  Innovation, Science, and Smart Technology Senator Kay McConney deliver a presentation on Sunday on the status of Government’s digital transformation programme. Given the large slice of critical services which government delivers to the public, it is an imperative Minister Kay McConney earns her pick.

 Listen to the Senator by fast forwarding to 1hr 02 min of the video.

40 thoughts on “Covid 19 Forces a Rush to Implement Digital Transformation

  1. Digital Transformation was taking place in Barbados before COVID -19. It is a natural process of technological development. I really do not think any GOB intervention is necessary,except in the regulation of the use to which it is put. The Public sector and the Private sector should implement wherever and whenever there is a demand. So far there are instances where Digital Transformation,poorly designed and implemented ,has messed up systems of information gathering,storage,retrieval and revenue collection. These are growing pains mainly because those designing are not driven or informed by end purpose/objectives.

    • @Vincent

      Hope you are not suggesting that events as they occur will not influence different weight given to priorities; allocation of resources etc. Not to disregard elements that h=go in to executing the vision of a good leader.

  2. The digital transformation at the small agency where I worked took about 2 years from buy in to activation. We took guidance from the Cabinet Office and bought the same software package. In the absence of this skill set in the office we opted for one of our officers to be certified in Records Management (RM). We therefore had heavy input into the reprogramming of the software package. The RM Officer also led the process inclusive of the scanning of old & new ones documents into the system.

    Successful digital transformation requires getting the technical aspects right, training staff members in the use of the system and properly staffI got got the process to support the scanning of old and new documents into the system

  3. @ David BU

    The process has to be lead by the technical staff. Your idea of visionary leadership does not fit in with how technology is successfully implemented. It is a technical process. Please note from groslyn’s intervention where the vision and drive for implementation originated those directly involved in the process.

    • Digital Transformation must be led by the business Vincent. The technical people are there to support the business.

  4. @ David Bu

    Barbados always had a relevant culture. We were never behind on the learning curve. We need to maintain that culture by giving it the breathing space and adequate resources.

  5. Digital transformation has Government’s buy in. It has success at the highest level, the Cabinet Office. What’s the difficulty in replicating this in other departments. Government just needs to set up a Records Management Unit With clear goals & objectives & timeframes to allow the sharing of expertise
    My major issue was leading the process which I can say was a difficult experience as one had to understand technical terms, identify feasible processes & encourage staff.

  6. @ groslyn at 12:53 AM.

    Thanks for the confirmation. Understanding,identifying and leading staff are the key ingredients .

    • @Vncent

      This is not the issue. The issue is a relevant design of our digital program, allocation of the resources required to get it done if we want to compete and efficiently facilitate business.

  7. We need AI to replace public servants and private employees.
    We need AI to lower costs and strengthen profit.

  8. @ David Bu

    Is there a direct relationship between digitization , competitiveness and business facilitation? How would you define relevant digitization in the present Barbadian Economic and Social context ? In other words what are the benefits ?

    • @Vincent

      If we want to be efficient how we do business adopting and customizing the technology to promote our competitiveness is a no brainer. Covid 19 pandemic makes it obvious. If we want to create opportunities for our people in this world we have no choice. In fact we are lagging. If you watch the video some answers to your questions will be answered.

  9. @ David BU

    Do you not think if there is such a program it should be exposed and the relevance over and above what is naturally taking place be spelt out? There is too much opacity.

  10. @Tron

    AI – Artificial Intelligence maybe but you have to start first with INTELLIGENCE. You need intelligence to impliment the artificial part of the equation which is obviously lacking in the BAJAN education system and government.

  11. Going DIGITAL is a COSTLY INVESTMENT endeavour compared WITH THE PRESENT DISFUNCTIONAL paper manpower system. The initial costs of conversion are extensive to impliment in the form of physical/software plant, training followed by frequent costly upgrades to both physical plant and software. The savings ultimately come in the form of reduction in manpower and efficiency. This is also a COST as these manpower reductions will cause unemployment unless some other initiatives are provided to employ those displaced.

    In Barbados it has to be recognized that the CIVIL SERVICE is the major employer and has significant political influence and implication how and what is changed. No civil servant wants to see significant change to their employment work situation, GRAVY train, as they say. If there is NO BUY IN by those that are going to be effected by GOING DIGITAL the implementation will be the usual FAILURE SENARIO.

  12. @ David BU
    One last try. Then I will give this matter a rest.What constitutes an efficient Economy and Society? Will digitization make us efficient? Efficient in what sense? Do you not think that we are traveling quite well along the digitization path without the intervention by entities unequipped to lead the process? Digitisation is no different than the application of new technology in other areas of the economy. It is demand driven i.e employed when it reduces the cost of doing business.
    So I have no fears. From where I sit I think we need to get the correct skills and the appropriate process in the Public and Private sectors. We also need Cooperation/coordination in the implementation process. BTW I live in Barbados I know just as well as any other interested citizen where we are screwing the process.

    • @Vincent

      Just ONE example _ the NIS was forced by the pandemic to fast track the elimination of benefits cheques. This will assist with reconciliation, savings in storage cost etc. in other words improve operating efficiency. Digital transformation has to be managed, it will disrupt. Who says it has to be Big Bang implementation? We can agree to disagree.

  13. From what I remember the software package was not pricey but the consultants plus training was. The annual licensing fee covered updates. As previously stated handover was too our new Records Management officer and the Manager assigned to supervise the project; both of whom were very competent. The issue was there not being enough staff to scan documents. Yes people will have to be employed in this area
    The benefits were the speed of processing documents; the ease of gauging where documents were, the ability to be responsive to requests as well as to drill down and assess staff performance.

  14. @ David BU
    Yes ; Let us agree to disagree. Up to this point I do not know what it is we are disagreeing about. My questions seeking clarification were never answered.

    • @Vincent

      We exist in a world that is transforming how business is done. Barbados is a member of the world community. It stands to reason the extent we can modernize our systems and processes will improve operating efficiencies. How we design and implement is entirely dependent on availability of resources and a road map that is ‘fit for purpose’.. You want specifics, this is where McConney can assist ant not the blogmaster.


  15. @David

    “It stands to reason the extent we can modernize our systems and processes will improve operating efficiencies.”

    Yes we agree on this point, however the efficiencies will result in significant unemployment which raises the question how is this issue going to be resolved in a country where agriculture is dead, manufacturing is dead, employment opportunities outside the civil service are extremely limited. The other major employment opportunity is supporting tourism which in the near to long term future is on life support and may not survive in any significant employment form. Efficiency maybe the last thing Barbados needs at the moment when employment, low paying or otherwise may prove more beneficial. Some income will keep the belly happy and the unrest subdued.

    • @Wily

      Can we agree that INEFFICIENCY where it exist is not sustainable and therefore it forces the leadership of the country to craft an action plan to address? We have to adopt a positive approach to problem solving and be willing to make the short term sacrifices to realize the longer term gains.

  16. @ David BU

    The long term is made up of a series of short term decisions, In the long term,we are all dead. One should solve problems that are urgent and important.What long term gains are you talking about? It is time you change this opaque notion of efficiency to effectiveness. Technology is designed to serve man not the other way around.

    • @Vincent

      The need for short term decisions does not obviate the need for longer term planning based on topology of events as it unfolds.

  17. @David

    Yes we can agree that inefficiencies are not sustainable in the present operational context, however every organization has some degree of inefficiency. The issue is when this inefficiency cost/implications significantly impact the operations performance.

    We can also agree that a practical short, medium and long term plan is required, however this is always been a Barbados inability to impliment. Barbados only thinks in short term knee jerk plans that make good photo ops and fluff talk. Failures in planning impact all island infrastructure daily, food supplies, water, transportation, aging population etc, however government continues down the SAME OLD SAME OLD paths. You’ve always had the position what EVENT in time will precipitate a change in national philosophy to impliment CHANGE.

    The present governance socialistic experiment, first has to be recognised, as implimented, is impractical and a FAILURE. A RICH first world country(ie:USSR) with vast resources can possibly maintain such a system for a significant timeframe, history proves. China is trying a new version of this socialistic sytem modified with capalisti/democracy, jury is still out as to the long term survivability. Small resource deficient countries trying this style of governance are guaranteed to FAIL. Barbados in their 65 years of dependence has had no less than four(4) Sovergien failures when they have required IMF assistance, yet they continue along the same governance path. It must be the old engrained PLANTATION PHILOSOPY, masa will provide.

  18. @ David BU
    “topology of events as it unfolds” can only be dealt with by short term decisions.

  19. @ David BU

    Thanks for an article that appears to repeat what I have said. Please note:
    To whom the advice is directed;
    The drivers of the digitization process,
    The fit for purpose and culture.
    It must not be done in a vacuum. There must be large social benefits to counteract the high risks of disruptions and failure.

  20. When all is said and not done, the simple truth remains: if we are doing the same thing over and over and expect different results, we are simply brilliant.

  21. Digital transformation falls under Change Management which is defined as
    1.the management of change and development within a business or similar organization.
    2.the controlled identification and implementation of required changes within a computer system.
    The Change Management process covers ‘The 7 decisions that matter in Digital Transformation’. CM techniques guided many process changes successfully implemented at my former workplace
    An omission on my part was that along with the annual license one must pay a user fee for every user given authority to access the system.
    Sound digital transformation predates electronic payments. From my experience NIS has a technical unit. From my experience hard copy documents do not always get to this Unit to trigger payment. Took me 12 visits and 6 calls to get a family matter resolved. Started in May payment was finally made in January 2020. Hoping the process has been revised and is sound & managerial

  22. News Release

    ECLAC meeting discusses data protection, privacy rights, and e-government in the Caribbean

    11 August 2020

    Countries across the Caribbean are preparing to adopt or strengthen their data protection legislation in order to guarantee individual privacy rights and safeguard personal data, while creating an enabling environment for data sharing and e-government in the subregion.

    The benefits of implementing internationally aligned data protection and sharing legislation were discussed during a virtual expert group meeting (EGM) convened by ECLAC Caribbean on 15 July 2020. The EGM was based on an upcoming study that reviews the data protection legislation of select Caribbean countries to assess the extent to which these laws are aligned with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as well as international best practice in the area of data sharing.

    The study, entitled `Creating an enabling environment for e-government in the Caribbean: A review of data protection and sharing legislation for alignment with the GDPR’, will make targeted recommendations for revision of existing legislation or adoption of new legislation in order to bring it into compliance with regional and international standards and protect the right to privacy in light of technological developments that have increased government surveillance capabilities and enabled private organisations to conduct targeted advertising and profiling.

    Addressing the participants, ECLAC Caribbean Director, Diane Quarless, stated that providing a level of data protection for personal data essentially equivalent to that provided for in the GDPR can ensure a continuous flow of information to and from the Caribbean with significant economic value for countries in the subregion.

    “Global e-commerce offers new opportunities for Caribbean organisations to operate in international markets. Since organisations processing the personal data of EU citizens outside the EU are also liable for fines under the GDPR, aligning national regimes with the GDPR will also reduce the risk of financial penalties for Caribbean organisations”, she asserted.

    Among other things, ECLAC’s study will also make recommendations on facilitating cross-border transfers of data, incentivising public and private sector information sharing, balancing freedom of expression with privacy rights, and enabling the effective enforcement of data protection laws through adequate resourcing of and cooperation between supervisory authorities.

    Representatives of government ministries, departments and supervisory authorities responsible for data protection, information sharing and e-government from participating Caribbean countries, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cayman Islands and Jamaica participated, along with representatives of Caribbean and European Union organisations with data protection and e-government mandates, and legal professionals with regional data protection expertise.

    More on this will be available when the study is published in the next couple of months.

    For further information, please contact Alexander Voccia at or Denise Balgobin at Telephone: (868) 224-8067/224-8075.
    Follow us on:

  23. A NEW COVID-19 CZAR could soon be in the position left empty by the straight-talking Richard Carter, who led rallying calls to keep everyone in Barbados safe from the novel coronavirus COVID-19.

    If Carter does not return, someone else is likely to be taking up the role to help give Government an eagle’s eye consideration of the socio-economic impact of the virus, and push back resistance to public health policies in place to prevent community spread.

    Minister of Health and Wellness Jeffrey Bostic hinted at this when he spoke to the media recently at Sea Breeze Beach House, Maxwell, Christ Church, about clamping down on quarantine breaches among visitors and returning nationals.

    He said the COVID-19 czar’s functions could be reactivated in order to continue being the “eyes and ears” of the administration’s fight against the viral illness….(Quote)

  24. Below is a report on organ transplantation from the deceased. A Bill has already been drafted, but has it been discussed in parliament? What do ordinary Barbadians know about this proposal? Will this lead to organ harvesting, with poor people selling kidneys, or renting out their wombs? Can people opt out?
    This government is a dictatorship.

    arbados is gearing up to become the centre for organ transplants in the Eastern Caribbean.

    The revelation has come from Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) Juliette Bynoe-Sutherland and consultant transplant nephrologist Dr Nerissa Jurawan.

    In an exclusive interview with Barbados TODAY, Bynoe-Sutherland and Dr Jurawan disclosed that a new Organ Transplant Bill is almost ready for introduction to Parliament. The legislation would pave the way for the state-owned QEH to significantly expand its current transplant unit, eliminate the need for tissue typing samples to be sent to the United States, and greatly boost the number of surgeries and their scope through the harvesting of organs from deceased donors.

    “In our view, both have to go hand in hand – legislation and the infrastructure. We just cannot keep putting people on dialysis. When you have a kidney transplant, you have a completely different quality of life. This would put us in a position to help other Caribbean countries. We would also be able to put in our donor bank, persons from the Caribbean,” Bynoe-Sutherland said.

    “So, I would say it is not just the development that is important for Barbados, but for the Eastern Caribbean as well. There are some countries where access to dialysis treatment is very, very difficult.”

    Tissue typing is required to make sure there is a match between the donor and the recipient.

    “So, we think that with the legislative reform, plus the ability to do tissue typing locally, it would advance our programme,” the hospital boss said.

    Dr Jurawan said the move towards increasing transplants and being legally able to harvest organs from the deceased had started several years ago but little progress had been made.

    “I hope the Bill will become a reality and be tabled in Parliament for approval. We have been doing kidney transplant, we have been doing corneal transplant, and certainly we can widen the scope and make the Queen Elizabeth Hospital one of the biggest transplant centres in the Eastern Caribbean, not only for kidney transplant. This Bill would hopefully cover liver transplant and bone marrow transplant as well,” the consultant transplant nephrologist told Barbados TODAY.

    She also said the hospital wanted to do two kidney transplants per month, but given its current limitations, four to five per year was more realistic.

    “The major limitations are the infrastructure in place at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in terms of the staffing. We also need a special lab to get results a little quicker from the tissue typing. Also, one of the major limiting factors is that we are solely dependent on a live donor programme. So, if a donor does not step forward then we have no organ available,” the specialist doctor said.

    “However, if there is legislation, then that can change, then we will become fully reliant on a deceased donor programme… and that can change the scale of things dramatically. So, if that is in place, we are looking at, idealistically, four per month or 48 per year which is a very good start.”

    Dr Jurawan also said the demand for dialysis treatment has grown “tremendously” over the last five years and authorities expect that will continue to grow with the burden of chronic disease.

    “It is inevitable. So, transplantation is the most sustainable way of dealing with this problem, not only for the patient but for the entire country, because it is the most cost effective. So far, since 2015, we had ten transplants and they are all doing well. We have had one death and that was unfortunate. It was a complication of the transplant, a long-term complication, which I don’t think we could have avoided,” the senior specialist told Barbados TODAY.

    She noted that once everything “goes perfectly” after the surgery, recipients of organs are usually discharged seven days after the operation, or two weeks if there are complications.

    “With a better quality of life, they can return to a near normal state of living because they are essentially healthy. They can return to work, they can return to school, their time is their own. Their quality of life is better, but not only that, their survival rate is better. They are going to last longer than the patients that we have on dialysis,” Dr Jurawan stated.

    She explained that two to three new patients come to the ward every week, and among them were young people.

    “The current ones we have in our low clearance clinic, we have a waiting list to get onto dialysis between 40 to 50 patients that we see in the clinic and we are working them up to starting dialysis,” Dr Jurawan added.

    Meanwhile, transplant nurse Ruth Shorey emphasised why having a tissue typing laboratory in Barbados is critical.

    “If we have the lab here, we can do a lot more…. We can actually create our list. We would know our potential recipients, we would know what their tissue type is…so it means when a potential donor comes along, we do their tissue type, we will be able to match them almost immediately,” she said.

    “When you have to send stuff overseas . . . you can lose all of your samples in an air disaster and it is not cheap . . . . If you are going to have legislation, it means you will be putting things in place to have things done on island, including the lab,” she told Barbados TODAY….(Quote)

  25. (Quote):
    However, if there is legislation, then that can change, then we will become fully reliant on a deceased donor programme… and that can change the scale of things dramatically. So, if that is in place, we are looking at, idealistically, four per month or 48 per year which is a very good start. (Unquote).

    How about legislation, also, to allow for the option of Euthanasia aka mercy killing?

    With so many old people being treated worse than sickly old dogs in government-owned care institutions why not give them the option to say ‘Yes’ to a journey to paradise?

  26. One can approach this story in two ways. One can be idealistic and proud and praise the advances in this area.

    A next person may ask for more information, what are the safeguards in place and for these matters be exposed to the public.

    The second person runs the risk of being condemned by others.

    I can understand the wish to have secrecy in some matters, but this has been our undoing. Opening windows and letting the light in make roaches run for new cover.

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