Sun | Dec 8, 2019

Jamaica advised to develop 'business brand'

Published:Thursday | January 23, 2014 | 12:00 AM
The Rio Bueno Port in Trelawny. - File

Richard Browne, Business Reporter

It is "a very realistic, very possible and very credible idea" for Jamaica to have a logistics hub that can compete with the largest hubs in the world, according to Mark Bedeman of IBM Business Consulting.

"The case is there," said Bedeman, for Jamaica can become the gateway for the Americas.

"I think this is your future; this is going to change the world as you know it. Jamaica has the capability to be that hub," he said in a presentation on the logistics industry and economic zone analysis of the Jamaica hub concept, on the second day of the Jamaica Logistics Hub Symposium at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston on Wednesday.

The attractiveness of business environments is determined by many factors considered by corporate executives, including real estate, taxation and the workforce; but an important area for Jamaica to look at is "postponement", which is the delay of final activities, such as assembly, production, packaging and tagging, until the latest possible time, said Bedeman. An example is paint, where customers increasingly have the colour they want created in the store, rather than in a tin sitting on the shelf.

The logistics hub should not just be about cargo, but about postponement production, he said.

"We have the relationship with Asia, let's bring the bulk product here, and add the value here."

On a more personal level, Bedeman said when he told colleagues he was going to Jamaica, they said "Give me a call when you are back from holiday".

Create business brand

"Jamaica has a fabulous brand for holidays, but it has to create a business brand," he said. "Jamaica must be seen as the place to do business."

Using IBM's analysis for the production of automotive components, Jamaica has a decent score for profitability, but fails on its qualitative score.

For pharmaceutical production the result is about the same, with Nassau well ahead on the profitability matrix. For business process outsourcing Jamaica scores most highly, with Kingston being on par with leader Mumbai in India, though still low on the qualitative score.

That means Jamaica needs to focus on talent, the physical infrastructure - with roads being vital - information and communications technology and image, advised Bedeman, whose portfolio at IBM Business Consulting is global freight logistics and cargo for SMEs.

Jamaica should look at Malta as a model as a stepping stone to get to the long-term objective of being like Singapore, he said.

The IBM business model has itself has undergone a radical change over the last 10 to 15 years. The manufacturing of computers represents less than 20 per cent of IBM's business today, which now has a large business consulting business.

richard.browne@gleanerjm.com