Being a local information technology professional, I’ve been thinking lately
about what new opportunities loom on the horizon for Guam, and what I’d like to
see come to fruition in the coming year. It’s a pretty safe assumption that we
can make great strides by planning right, timing strategically, and marketing
effectively. Consider this my “wish list” for the upcoming New Year.
This isn’t some desperate plea in my position as a member of the media to get
prices drastically reduced for Internet access or DVD players, because I’m not
fool enough to think that that would actually ever happen, no matter what I did.
Rather, I’m taking a brutally honest look at what changes can very well be (and
damn well should be) made in the near future to really progress our use of
technology for the improvement of the economy.
So without further ado, here in no particular order are the areas I really hope
to see change in within the next 12 months:
- Better encouragement and support for e-commerce.
The main reason opportunities for local entrepreneurs has
consistently gotten shot down time after time in terms of setting up an online
shop has been the guardedness that local banks have in approving merchant IDs
(the required credit-checking and validation component for e-commerce sites;
the online equivalent of the card-swipe machine used in brick-and-mortar
stores). This is due to the high chargeback rate resulting from faulty
transactions, which is a higher risk for the bank. Local banks have to date
only granted such components to only the oldest and/or most established of
Guam businesses, or to ISPs. Lending institutions need to be more liberal in
their support of e-business models and foster the growth that could come from
Inarajan Joe selling guguria online.
- Will the real wireless provider please stand up?
Anyone? No? OK, then…I guess I’ll wait. Clarity/quality of
service notwithstanding - that issue has been well documented already - I
really want to see 3G mobile communications implemented effectively and used
correctly, with an affluence in the use of PDAs (personal digital assistants,
like the Palm Pilot and PocketPC devices) and the true integration from
personal and business consumers alike of wireless/mobile applications over a
variety of computerized devices using the Internet. Current wireless providers
and ISPs have not as of yet setup a WAP gateway to facilitate the mobile Web,
thus limiting the ability of local companies to extend the effectiveness of
their internal communications systems by making them truly mobile. This
involves data convergence – way beyond the scope of the pager or cell
traditional phone. But, this carries just as much pressure on local developers
as it is for service providers. If someone establishes a mobile/wireless app
framework, we still need people to build content applications that enough
stuff will be on there to make it worth the while. So developers: start
reading up on coding WML pages – you’ll need it.
- Advances in telemedicine and healthcare
technology. How often have you heard the phrase, “My hip has really
been aching for a couple of days now…I’m flying out to Hawaii next week.” Once
the problems with GMH simmer down (if ever), we should really concentrate on
implementing state-of-the-art systems to care for the ailing, and provide
relief to the suffering – here at home. Put it into perspective…is there
really any critical need more important than healthcare?
- More networking – offices online, connected
classrooms. It’s hard enough to find a company or organization here
with a state-of-the-art, networked computer environment outside the scope of
simple file and print sharing, much less one that is truly
Internet-integrated. Especially in these times of economic struggle, workplace
information systems will improve productivity by cutting down on costs and
letting more work get done…faster, and makes involving the Internet in
workflow processes easier. Most software developed these days is built with
integrating the Internet with a corporate LAN in mind anyway…sadly a component
that’s grossly underutilized because so many people continue to work on
standalone machines. And it goes without saying that DOE schools in particular
need to provide better access to the Internet for our kids. Connectivity is
the key to learning in this new age.
- More Web publishing by local companies.
You don’t have to know the idiosyncrasies of HTML, and you shouldn’t
have to be a computer whiz to be able to put your stuff online, but people
from all walks of like really should start putting their work on the Web. To
date, there’s lots of great information about Guam online…stemming from only
about 9 or 10 sites. Organizations need to establish their presences online
and propagate the wealth of information about us out in cyberspace.
Third-generation Web management preaches data-driven applications as the main
element of sites, in addition to fancy pictures, aesthetic layout design, and
marketing fluff. And for the organizations that are the logical first-step for
“selling” Guam (heads up, GVB…) more timely and topical information about us
is really needed up - frequently. And this wouldn’t require a trip to Japan.
- Better coverage of technology by the media.
OK, go ahead…label me a hypocrite. The occasional story or featured
piece on popular consumer tech is nice, but we seriously need to ramp up the
game…and soon…especially by print media. We collectively give rise to demand
by educating consumer markets about other opportunities in IT besides the
release of “Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing 2002”, and by doing more
analytical-type pieces on the real applications of information technology here
in the Pacific, and its impact on human life. Again, more publishing to the
Web of written content helps get the word out about us. This leads to the
introduction of new products and empowers a workforce to get schooled in
various technical disciplines. But this requires writers, reporters,
columnists, and journalists to get their facts straight when it comes to
documenting in what order the 1’s and 0’s come.
- Get someone in here who can figure out how to use
Oracle. I mean this both literally (for GovGuam) and figuratively
(for the island in the round). Having IT professionals skilled in technologies
other than those produced by Microsoft (easily the dominant player on island)
will give companies choice and balance, and will reduce the total cost of
ownership for their information systems. I’d like to see local organizations
migrate away from the older RPG-based AS/400 and RS/6000 mainframes, and
upscale to more Internet-centric systems. Implementing business-level systems
running J2EE, IBM WebSphere, various flavors of UNIX, etc. will be better for
the island’s economy, developing our technological infrastructure at the
microeconomic level, and business overall. The big push would be advanced
communication for the development of cost-efficient B2B and B2C-type of
- Training and peer communities. One of
the reasons the majority of the local developer community are only now really
starting to come into their own in terms of the their skill sets is largely
because they’ve had no formal training, having to learn everything on their
own over a number of years. Guam doesn’t possess a large enough population of
developers to warrant the establishment of a huge training center, but
seasonal training seminars and forums where developers, networking
professionals, and project managers could exchange ideas, network (in the
social sense), share experiences, and learn from others is integral to
expansion and progress.
- Better education from GCC and UOG. We
need to empower the next generation of leaders with the skills necessary to
take us to the next level, and not ill-equip them to work on older, outdated
technologies, or provoke them to jump ship for the States. At the university
level, computer science majors are taught from a curriculum which exposes them
to coursework which has them go take whole classes each in learning legacy
languages like BASIC, COBOL, FORTRAN; and then only in their last year become
briefly exposed to topics such as UNIX programming, C++, Java, VB,
object-oriented programming theory, and COM (if at all). We need to provide
talented kids an education in the advanced skills they’ll need to become
effective technical managers. GCC made the right move by becoming a regional
partner for the Cisco Networking Academy curriculum earlier this year, and the
institution continues to provide training in fiber optics, wiring, and other
disciplines. More activity along these lines will ensure we keep our local
talent truly local.
- Strategic alliances. Too often Guam
companies will try to do something entirely on their own, rejecting the notion
of forging a partnership with another company because they fail to see the
point. This is evident both in the product development cycle and for
cross-marketing initiatives. There is strength in numbers, and companies need
to concentrate on solidifying their own core competency and solicit others to
provide their own expertise for a powerful co-branded end product, and then
milk it for all its worth by promoting the relationship with the other
company. This makes for a powerful end product.
It's notable to point out that the opinions reflected above are not
necessarily those of KUAM or our advertisers, but are pretty accurate with that
of more than 60,000 consumers, developers, service providers, and IT
professionals on Guam.
I guess the big hurdle to make many of these dreams come true would be the
“Who will start first?” factor. Guam companies traditionally aren’t too big into
the concept of time-to-market, with organizations relying on the fact that
someone will flinch first, with various rival firms following suit thereafter
with their own take on a new product or service (side-stepping all of the bumps
and bruises normally associated with doing something for the first time), sort
of like a corporate game of “chicken”. Somebody needs to take the initiative and
get the ball rolling. But again, all of the above are very doable, if the
organizations involved just put their heads together. I’ll be satisfied with
evolutionary technology if we can’t have revolutionary technology just yet.
I’m just a humble Web developer, and I’m trying my hardest to do my part…I hope
the right people were also reading and feel compelled to do the same.
What changes in technology do you want to see made to Guam?
E-mail me and
we’ll feature you comments in the next installment of Tech Talk!