THE CHALLENGES OF LOCAL ICT WEB BASED COMPANIES

Is it not strange that in Jamaica local ICT developers who produce web based products as a business are over looked by all major companies in Jamaica.

A wicked act I may say, as in all other countries where the Internet is respected. The top 20 or top 40 websites listed all obtain some form of ad revenue from major corporations, especially if it is a local site competing against giants such as facebook, Google, Yahoo, MSN, Twitter and Bing in their respective countries.

Jamaica is in a unique spot as out the top local websites only one is a pure Internet company that derives its revenue from the Internet. As such the Jamaica Gleaner and its sister sites and also the Jamaica Observer are not Internet based companies, as they derive majority of their revenue from a physical product that has been in the market for several years.

This is an important note as their online advertising rates does not define or reflect what the local ad rates online is to be. As they can easily subsidize their rates to benefit their physical product.

In reality there is only but a handful of local ICT web based business in Jamaica. Not counting major newspapers and MNC brands located in Jamaica and their web properties. A quick look to find the top local websites in Jamaica that are pure Internet business and one will discover that jahboo.com is number one according to Alexa.com.

Counting the local print media web properties jahboo.com would be number 3 or number 4 most popular local website. Over the years the top spot was held by jahkno a entertainment and party website along with other local sites that have since faded.

Go-Jamaica.com, Jamaica-star.com, and Jamaica-Gleaner.com as far as I see it is but one brand. They are all news sites owned and operated by a print media company. Their demographics is that of the news reading public. The Jamaica Gleaner sites currently have two out of their three sites ranked as top local sites. The Jamaica Observer a newspaper subsidized by Butch Stewart is the number one ranked local website according to Alexa.com a Amazon.com web analytic company.

So why are none of the major MNC advertising on top non traditional media owned websites? Why are the Telecoms who speak of technology and prostitute free websites fan pages such as facebook and twitter whore to such levels while ignoring local talent? I speak of none other than the Digicel, the Lime, the Claro, the Flow Jamaica.

The fact that these Jamaican based MNC have made or seek to make their revenue from the Jamaican population. They have shown a total lack of respect and total disregard for local ICT web based companies.

Some raise the point what is the actual value or figure that should be applied for local ICT web based advertising when there are options such as Google, Yahoo, Bing and even the subsidized local print media web properties?

This is a excellent question as it is this same question that have marketing departments treating several top performing web based entrepreneurs as if they are doing them a favour.

It is misguided and totally wrong to use Google advertising model and apply it to a local web start up or web based company or to apply the online ad rates of a subsidized web property such as the local print media online news websites.

Though is clearly a wrong practice I am still able to prove using the worse case scenario of Google advertising to clearly demonstrate that the MNCs in Jamaica have no respect for local web based ICT companies.

But what would be the actual cost that MNC should consider paying top local web properties that are not subsidized? My calculations could easily defend the market rate. But let us assume that the arrive figure is US$1,000 per month in a long term contract of one year minimum per MNC. What does this mean if there 5 such local ICT web based properties that qualified? Though there is not 5 but 1.

US$1,000 x 5 (Local ICT web based companies) x 12 = US$60,000/year per MNC. For a MNC Telecom in Jamaica this is peanuts. Needless to say such an amount is less than 50% the market rate coming it at the lowest price point.

The point is not to compete with Google, or to be misguided by their advertising module which in itself is a flawed module. But to look at the bigger picture of the development of the local ICT web based sector.

5 top local web based companies obtaining long term contracts from all the MNC Telecoms would see US$240,000 = $20.6 million per year going directly into the sustainability of a local web based ICT sector.

This new economy would see the hiring of new developers, new designers, proof readers, and new media graduates from the universities as local ICT web based companies reinvest into their companies in order to remain competitive and innovative. It is here where the MNCs I am certain will attain more value after MNCs begin to show respect for local ICT web based companies as they do in developed markets.

For whatever reason in the past 5 years neither the MNC Telecoms or the MNC Banks marketing department or business development department of CEOs are able to make such a simple connection. Though they are well aware of Google’s success and the fast rise of facebook to date.

This new employment sector would be much greater if the major Banks were to support local ICT web based companies. In fact it would double to US$480,000 = $41.3 million per year in the local ICT web based sector.

Alexa.com has its flaws and may no provide an total accurate description of how a local website is performing. It is a very good measure none the less on activity of a local website performance in a country.

There are other web analytic tools that can be used in arriving at actual performance of a local website. The easiest that comes to mind is that of a flag widget being placed on the local website to track by country each unique visitor. A unique visitor is only counted once.

The fact that other ICT web based business are able to garner respect and do business in their own country speaks volumes. It points to a lack of respect for Jamaican success in this sector by MNC and their marketing departments who think locals are there to crawl to them.

It is this crawling and begging syndrome that plagues Jamaica why I think ICT web based entrepreneurs are not respected. Neither am I one to crawl or beg. I tell it straight using facts and nothing more. Having met personally several local ICT web based entrepreneurs this appears to be the common thread.

For if in the UK, USA, and Canada a citizen of that country performing well in ICT web sector they are respected. Larger markets yes, but every market count as Digicel would not be Digicel if it did not come to a puny 2.8 million population market with mobile phone service and now WiMAX.

With several local websites rising to the top over the past 5 to 7 years none have been able to secure advertisement from the MNCs that was meaningful if any at all. Daryl Vaz speaks about ICT to be a growth driver or something of the sorts. But Vaz is no more than a politician. What does he know about creating value in web based economy as a local ICT entrepreneur? If he had any knowledge in the sector he would do more than simply provide lip service.

The importance of a ICT web based ecosystem appears to be not an essential factor for Jamaica. In the states ICT web based business are discussed and promoted to see how best to make the sector better and support innovation that may lead better efficiency and possible valuable companies that will end up creating employment in the long run. It is called a technology sector or some would call a ICT sector.

Twitter, facebook, Google, Yahoo, MSN, Ask, AOL, YouTube, Myspace, Hi5, Tagged, and others are all USA based ICT web based companies that did not just reach to the top like that.

Majority of them were formed by White males, with a few Asians sprinkled in the mix. Majority obtained minimum US$500,000 to get rolling once a prototype website was completed. No local ICT web based entrepreneur should hold their breath in every seeing such capital or even 1/10 of that for a start up.

So how are locals to compete? It should be noted that Venture Capital and Angel Capital for the most part played a major role in many of these top sites. It should also be noted that most of such investors from the USA do not invest in such sites outside of their state or country.

It should also be noted that people who are not white or Asian obtain less than 1% Venture Capital funding for their web based start ups within the USA. Have you ever asked yourself why there are very few if any black ICT web based start ups in the USA or the world for that matter.

Jamaicans are more than track stars and football players. The latter which I am proud to say I excelled in. It is not normal nor is it expected or accepted that Jamaicans are to continue for over 10 years only having the option of visiting Yahoo, MSN, Google news and search. Unfair advantage was huge for Microsoft as their web properties such as IE, MSN or Bing came with the PC operating system.

Web based content, product and services is not a one way street from the West, Europe of Asia. Jamaican ICT web developers are responsible for local growth in this sector. But Jamaica is a very unique culture which is difficult to articulate in respect to complexities involved in the stagnation of local ICT web based developers.

From a glance I could easily say that there are too many women in important positions determining the future of ICT web based business in Jamaica. And as such they all need to be removed immediately as women and technology is not a natural mix.

I could also add to that view there are too many old men and men who think and act like women who do not understand technology but only cling the applause of the masses while having no incentive or interest in developing ICT web based businesses.

Add all that along with many of the local Negroe minds planted firmly in the plantation of master slave and house Negroe mentality. It goes beyond incompetence, and instead that of a semi literate culture even with an education from a University.

I speak of web based ICT as there are many dinosaurs male and female in the ICT sector who would quickly run to the public with how ICT is doing well here and there in Jamaica. But I speak of web based ICT and in this domain they have no argument.

These old timers and possible some misguided young Turks may quickly jump and point out the several years of domination by NCU Microsoft Imagine Cup teams. But once again I speak of WEB BASED ICT sector.

As for all the years of domination by NCU Imagine Cup team victories, not one has created a web base ICT company that is dominating locally or in any other country with the potential to compete with USA based ICT web start ups attaining over US$400 million per year in revenue.

The point is, locals have no access to significant USA Venture Capital or Angel Capital if any at all. The tricks in the trade in respect to online advertising of Hits, Page Views, Impressions is not that easily understood by marketers.

So called special interest web marketing companies in Jamaica only add fuel to the fire. As such types only have the interest of their special agenda at heart, and not that of the Jamaican ICT web based sector even though they attempt to parade and convince the amateurs as such.

The importance of local content and local products and services in ICT web based companies is equally difficult to articulate to those who are in a position to make a difference. They are quicker to travel the road of prostituting established global marketing buzz words and web based properties for short term goal at the detriment of local ICT web based development.

Either a new government comes to power and set the path for ICT web based companies in Jamaica to thrive. Or the current government stop providing lip service and get the job done.

One way or the other no local ICT web based business cannot operate outside of payments from it users while providing a valuable and innovative service and still compete against international brands.

Twitter, facebook, Google, Yahoo, MSN, Ask, AOL, YouTube, Myspace, Hi5, Tagged did not happen by luck. It did not take place by simply one user telling another user. If that were the case competition would be brutal in a web based economy.

It is not by luck that the majority of the top websites were born within the USA. ICT web based sector in Jamaica and also a international industry. It is not a game. Jobs created in such web based businesses is not a game. It is a profession that requires special talent to make a difference.

So while you all marvel at the movie “The Social Network” and the brilliance of all the characters that led up to the making of such a movie and that of a company now valued at US$33 billion. Never forget for one minute that such men define the standard.

TOP SOCIAL NETWORK & SEARCH ENGINE WEBSITES IN JAMAICA

(Source: Top websites in Jamaica – Alexa.com a Amazon.com Web Analytic company)

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