Business leaders discuss challenges affecting operations
More than 25 business leaders gathered to share their strategies in the face of the economic challenges Puerto Rico is experiencing, pointing out four specific issues that jump out under current conditions.
During the forum entitled “Major trends shifting the business landscape” sponsored by telecom firm WorldNet, participants listed the following challenges: costs increase but customers spend less; rapid changes in business processes and structures; finding and keeping the right talent for the organization; and the need to accelerate business growth under these conditions.
As part of the dynamic, the executives shared their practices to achieve growth in this contracting economy, namely:
- establishing non-traditional alliances,
- transforming product sales into selling solutions to add value,
- use of non-traditional sales channels,
- investing in new technology to increase competitiveness and efficiency,
- re-engineering and simplifying processes,
- empowering employees to improve customer service, and
- reviewing and reinterpreting the data and information to better fit the customer needs.
Others explained that they are exploring new markets in the Caribbean, and that technology can be key in the export of products and services.
The gathering headed by Economist Heidie Calero and WorldNet president David Bogaty offered participants an overview of the current economic conditions, as well as projections for the next decade
“To move in the right direction, the island needs for its leaders to make difficult decisions in reforming four areas: tax structure, labor market, education system and welfare dependency,” said Calero.
She predicted that Puerto Rico could return to 2005 Gross National Product levels by 2018 if it achieves an annual economic growth of 3.3 percent. However, if activity remains as it is currently, that recovery will not be felt until 2026.
The economist stressed the importance of increasing the base of citizens with access to broadband to turn the island into a center of innovation and technology, encourage work, and decentralize education as some of the measures for recovery.
Meanwhile, Bogaty offered up ideas about how technology can be applied to achieve business growth. However, he said the scenario is complex because the economic downturn coincided with a cultural consumer change and a technological revolution that demands continual updates.
“To accelerate our goals, we can not continue to see technology as an exclusive tool for the IT department, but as an issue that decision-makers must address,” he said, adding leaders must have a strategic vision in place to avoid falling into the spiral of having to constantly update technology.
“We can not replace technology every six months, budgets don’t allow it, and the learning curve is paralyzing. Therefore, leaders must ensure not to over-invest or investing in the wrong technology,” Bogaty said. “Instead, they must invest strategically aligning new technology to the business goals.”
He also urged technology companies to join the effort of seeking solutions and show they too can help to generate economic growth.