Issue 1 : Introduction

Welcome to the The Future is Digital newsletter

As the title suggests, this newsletter’s focus is mainly on Digital Transformation — an overused and often, not well-defined term for culture, products and services change driven by technology.

We live in a world that is evolving digitally, evolving at a fast pace. So fast in fact, its hard to take in everything that is happening around you. Digital technologies have enabled us to be more aware of our surroundings, but have also introduced some new difficulties in society — polarised viewpoints, undesirable symptoms form using social networks to excess.

This newsletter aims to discuss our digital future and is an ongoing learning exercise for not only the author, but hopefully you too. Thank you for subscribing, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I do writing it.

Who am I?

My name is Matthew Cowen and I recently started a company based in the French West Indies, focused on Digital Transformation. I’d previously been employed for many years with a local reseller and integrator. Wanting to push myself further, I decided to take things in to my own hands, resign and start dgtlfutures.

I’ve worked professionally for over 30 years, in various industries, including BMS (Building Management Systems — a precursor to todays IoT developments in the area), Chartered Accounts, where I lead the IT team with their complete overhaul of the network and messaging infrastructure. To finally landing in Fort-de-France, whereby I was snapped up to work as a Consultant with the previously mentioned firm.

I developed business relationships with that company and some of the word’s largest software houses, Microsoft and Symantec to name a couple, and helped substantially increase revenue within their partner programs.

Frustrated with my progress in the company I embarked upon a Masters Degree with the world-renowned business school, ESSEC Business School, passing with Merit the Operations Management course. Much of the subject matter being familiar to me, but finally having a vocabulary and framework to understand and express it clearly, I took a leap of faith to start my own business.

Why am I starting a newsletter?

In my previous professional capacity, I noticed that there was a gulf of understanding between the traditional divisions in the organisations I was consulting with. IT groups failed to understand the business and strategic plans, and the business side saw IT as, not only an inscrutable back box, but a veritable money black hole.

After many years studying and understanding business strategies, mostly because of a personal interest in Apple and its products/services strategies that were so different from the likes of Microsoft, IBM and other contemporaries, I decided to embark on a Masters Program with Essec Business School to try to put a vocabulary and gain a deeper understanding.

Out of this came a desire to create a small consulting practice to help smaller businesses in the Caribbean develop and practice good digital operations strategies.

This newsletter is the culmination of many year of reflexion on what I think I can offer to the business world in the Caribbean and I hope to make it work for you. To that end, this is not a closed, one-way conversation. I would love to have feedback, positive and negative alike. It’s all enriching and if that feedback is in the open (as long as its not abusive) then I think we all learn something from it.

I’m not a journalist by trade, nor have I studies journalism. I’m not a trained writer neither, but I have a desire to write that I just can’t shake. There will be some horrific grammar and spelling errors that I will correct and improve upon with experience, please be gentle.

What can you expect?

You can expect a regularly scheduled email sent to your inbox that will discuss a couple of topics related to digital technologies in the Caribbean and wider world, where the impacts are global, and a couple of interesting links or reading recommendations for further study if you so desire.

Some of the content will be educational, some opinion and some strategic thinking. Each email will be around 1000 to 2000 words, and be easily digestible. Promise.

There will be no spam and I will not push the agenda of a particular vendor. This will be my analysis only. I don’t profess to be an expert in every subject, apart from some. However, I promise to be open to discussion and debate.

This early phase of the newsletter will be free, but I am hoping to explore how to create better value for you by launching a subscription option, more on that in the future, for now, enjoy my free newsletter.

One last note. If your are an expert in a particular field and I have got something horribly wrong, please feel free to point it out to me. I will do my utmost to correct it and I will be eternally grateful for having learnt something. This is the spirit I bring to this endeavour. I hope you will too.

Reading List

Microsoft buys BrightBytes DataSense to bring more data analytics to schools

Data, as we’ll see in future editions, is an integral and extremely important aspect of Digital Transformation. With good data, good decisions are possible. The opposite is also true, unfortunately. Simplified platforms like this one are increasingly important and explain why the likes of Microsoft are snapping them up. They help untrained decisions makers and those not trained as Data Scientists to incur good data practices, that will ultimately help them make better decisions.

Bird CEO on scooter startup copycats, unit economics, safety and seasonality

One of the biggest takeaways for this article (apart from it being a lesson in startup speed and failings), is that Bird is, rightly, partnering with people willing to take a leap in their local markets. Making an expansion much faster than if Bird alone handled it. I’d like to see this in some parts of the Caribbean this year, Trinidad? Jamaica?

Thanks for reading. I’ll be sending out the ‘real’ first issue next week now that we’ve got acquainted with each other.

The Future is Digital Newsletter is intended for a single recipient, but I encourage you to forward it to people you feel may be interested in the subject matter.

Thanks for being a supporter, I wish you an excellent day.

Matthew Cowen @matthewcowen