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State of the art AI in Jamaica’s BPO Sector

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

 

 

#Jamaica, May 30, 2023 – Jamaica is walking the road to Artificial Intelligence (AI) integration in its corporate realm as an AI program called DISA (Digital Intelligence Sales Agent), which automates telesales and customer service processes, is being introduced to the country’s outsourcing sector.

This new development for the island is bred from the collaboration of ACCESS Sales Group, the sales division of the ACCESS Group of Companies — a financial and sales programme management and technology company with operations in the United States, Canada and the Latina America and the Caribbean (LAC) region, with Vocodia, an AI software company based in Florida and the developer of DISA.

Larry Hunt, CEO of the ACCESS Group of Companies expressed why Jamaica was chosen.  He said, “Jamaica is at the top of our list for the roll-out of DISA to the region because of its strong position in the outsourcing industry.” He also referred to Jamaica’s strong cultural affinity with North America, highly educated workforce, and favorable business environment.

Hunt continued to highlight the benefit of DISA, comparing it to outdated technology.

“Call centres, BPOs and businesses that rely on phone sales will now be able to use DISA to support their live agents in their interaction with clients. DISA uses actual live agents to record scripts and responses — unlike old, bionic-sounding technology — and never goes off-script. It can be tailored to the specific goals, budget, and unique requirements of a particular company.”

Additionally, DISA is capable of servicing any industry that deals with inbound customers calling in for FAQs, which  can  be transferred to a live agent to handle escalated calls.  For outbound calls, it can make calls to consumers or businesses to pre-qualify them prior to transferring them to a live closer.

Hunt informed that local companies are showing interest in DISA, pointing out that traditional telemarketing practices are time consuming and costly.

However, he made sure to refer to the importance of live agents saying they “are crucial as closers or problem solvers in the telemarketing process,” emphasizing that the program is not geared towards replacing human sales or customer support agents but instead, enhancing their capabilities.

Considering that, he alluded to DISA’s lack of error and limitations unlike the live agents.

“DISA significantly supports their operations by providing a level of consistency where agents may have physical limitations. It can handle up to 400 outbound calls per day and up to 20,000 simultaneous calls, compared to a high-quality agent that can only handle an average of 150 calls or less per day.”

He continued to inform of the pros of DISA.

“Our business customers have come to realise that DISA’s ability to handle far more significant volumes of calls provides a level of consistency and leaves their agents to be more productive and engaging with their customers when closing sales or handling escalated customer service.”

There are concerns regarding the cost of implementation which Hunt also talked about.

“Primarily, companies are concerned with the cost of integration, human resources to deal with that integration, and the potential costs of new or additional equipment. Integration is as simple as a DID and an API integration, both of which can be handled in minutes and at no cost to them,” he stated.

This initiative, which could put Jamaica ahead of some of its Caribbean neighbour’s in the AI game, follows a 2022 report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) which highlights that  several governments in the region acknowledged the value of AI in many economic sectors.

Caribbean News

TCI Sport delegation visits the Cayman Islands and Barbados with key sport leaders

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TCI Sports Commission delegation traveled to the Cayman Islands and Barbados to visit with key Sport leaders. The TCI delegation included the Sports Commission Director, Mr. Jarrett Forbes, Deputy Director, Mr. Alvin Parker, and Facility Manager for Providenciales, Mr. Darian Forbes. The aim of the travel was to visit major facilities, with priorities being pool facilities, and discuss sport development strategies.

The team had the pleasure of being hosted by the Deputy Chief Officer for Sport, Dr. Dalton Walter, and the Director of Sports, Mr. Kurt Hyde in the Cayman Islands; who facilitated the facility tours and shared valuable information on Sports Development. Meetings were held with Deputy Chief Officer Ms. Joan West and Technical Director for the Cayman Islands Aquatics Sport Association, Mr. Jacky Pellerin, on the Cayman Islands’ new 50-meter and 25 meter 10 lanes Mrytha pool facility, as well as with Ms. Shakeina Bush from the National Olympic Office on National Federation development and funding opportunities. The Sports Commission delegation was also grateful for the courtesy call with the Minister of Sport for the Cayman Islands, Hon. Isaac Rankine, and the Chief Officer Ms. Teresa Echenique.

During the Barbados leg of the exploratory travel, the Sports Commission team was hosted by the Director of the National Sports Council, Mr. Neil Murrell, and the Assistant Director of Sports, Mr. Ryan Toppin. The TCI team toured the National Sport Council facilities and visited the Barbados National Olympic Association. Significant to the TCI’s plan to develop an aquatic center, the TCI Sports Commission visited the Barbados Aquatic Sport Association and met with former National Olympic Academy Director, Mr. Dave Farmer, and the President and Second Vice President of the Barbados Swim Association, Mr. Robert Armstrong and Mr. Nicholas Mathis. Insights were shared regarding swimming pool design, development and maintenance as well as pool programming strategies to ensure the growth and sustainability of swimming in the islands.

The TCI delegation also visited other stadium facilities such as Track and Field, Football and Cricket, and other major facilities in Basketball and Boxing. The TCI Sport Commission officials had great discussions with both the Cayman Islands and Barbados sports officials surrounding the development of coaches, athlete development pathways, and strengthening relationships with National Sport Governing Bodies.

Director of Sports, Mr. Jarrett Forbes, said, “We were very grateful for the hospitality and support extended by our Caribbean colleagues. Their support affirmed the commitment and unity among the Caribbean community to develop sports in the region.”

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SIDS drowning in debt as sea levels rise

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Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer

 

June 7, 2024 – United Nations (UN) Secretary General, His Excellency Antonio Guterres has said that international financing is the “fuel for sustainable development” but small island States are running low on the funding.

Addressing  day two of the Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS24), in Caribbean twin island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, the Secretary General said while financing is low, the countries are drowning in debt and rising sea levs due to Climate Change.

“You are leading by example, but too often you are facing closed doors, from institutions and, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic and other global happenings have negatively impacted vulnerable economies, and “battered by a Climate catastrophe they did not create”, he told the gathering.

The SIDS countries are paying more to service their own debt than they invest in healthcare and education, the UN chief warned, leaving the nations unable to make the investments they need to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Many of the States are classified as middle-income, shutting them out of the debt support reserved for the poorest nations, the UN Chief argued that vital actions are needed from international financial institutions, in addition to an immediate SDG stimulus for the SIDS nations.

He outlined that the debt burden should be relieved, by providing access to effective relief mechanisms, including pauses in payments during times of economic volatility, while also transforming lending practices by changing the rules on concessional finance to lower borrowing costs. “You cannot finance education and health with 15-year loans. Let us make SIDS a real priority in everything we do,” he said.

Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley said there was simply no political will on the part of the developed world to make the financial system work fairly,  as she enquired  how many  of those leaders have turned up in Antigua. “We are not seen”, she said, adding that “we continue to be serfs” when it comes to the power imbalance.

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are in the crossfires of multiple crises: Climate Change, the economic and social repercussions of COVID-19, and a crisis of debt. The pandemic hugely impacted all island nations, especially those dependent on tourism. Global lockdowns left large holes in islands’ coffers and severely set back efforts to invest in the SDGs.

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Transcultura lauded at SIDS gathering, wins Partnership Awards 2024

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Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer

 

June 7, 2024 – The United Nations (UN) programme, Transcultura, which seeks to integrate Caribbean, and the European Union through Culture and Creativity, has been selected to receive the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Partnerships Awards 2024.

Operate under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), it is the largest programme in Latin American and the Caribbean, and is a four-year initiative for young cultural professionals, artists, and entrepreneurs from 17 Caribbean countries.

Implemented in three languages, it provides them with opportunities for their future, in the region and in Europe, through training, support to entrepreneurship, networking and mobility programmes. With 15 million euros (16.5 million US dollars) provided by the European Union (EU), Transcultura is also the most significant EU investment in culture in the region.

In four years, over 1,600 young people from 17 Caribbean SIDS have benefited from the programme, with more than 50% being women. Through a combination of in-person and online courses, 600 cultural professionals have been trained. It has also facilitated cooperative cultural exchanges involving over 200 organisations from the Caribbean and the European EU. 

The programme resulted in the establishment of the Caribbean Cultural Training Hub, which fostered synergies between key educational institutions in the region. The award’s jury recognised the transformative impact of the Transcultura programme, empowering young people in the region to become agents of change and development in their communities through culture and creativity.

It was established by UN Member States in 2021 to recognise the efforts of the best and most notable partnerships in the implementation of the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action Pathway (SAMOA Pathway). The goal is to inspire others to embark on such partnerships with SIDS.

Transcultura programme leverages the rich cultural diversity of the Caribbean as a driving force of sustainable development through cooperation and exchange within the Caribbean and between the Caribbean and the EU. It aims to create professional opportunities for young people in the Cultural and Creative Industries.

Beneficiary countries are: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.

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