Exporting e-services is a promising opportunity for Barbados to maximise its investment in human capital, boost its economy and gain international exposure as a business hub. Raija Järvinen and Uolevi Lehtinen (2004) defines, “e-service as a benefit providing object of transaction that can be characterized as an intangible process that is at least partially produced, marketed and consumed in a simultaneous interaction through electronic networks.”
The export of social media services specifically, provides an opportunity for Barbados to be a leader in one of the more innovative e-service industries. Social media is one of the more progressive means of business communication featuring varying web based tools that transform the traditional communication experience into interactive dialogue. Facebook and Twitter are among the more easily recognizable platforms. With the growing interest in social media as a tool of cost effective, interactive and ‘humanised’ business communication, social media management is a feasible e-service for local entrepreneurs to export.
As Director and Consultant of the Barbados based Public Relations (PR) and Marketing Firm, Tara Wilkinson Communications (TWC), I have the amazing opportunity to be part of a growing network of consultants who work in countries across the world to design campaigns for our clients. It’s all done from Barbados with Skype, Email, Drop Box and our staple ingredient, creativity! Barbados’ highly skilled labour force and supporting technological infrastructure makes this business model feasible. These features also position Barbados to be a leader in the export of social media services. With the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation Inc. (BEF) advocating for the island to be the first 100% free WiFi country in the Caribbean, Barbados will have a competitive edge for e-service export.
The export of social media services will allow Barbados to maximise its investment in human capital. We have a generation of people for whom the online space is more than just a place to send emails and to catch up on world news; it’s a way of life. They are the ‘Millennials’. ‘Mashable Business’ describes them as ‘Digital Natives’ who own multiple devices, are comfortable multitasking online across a variety of platforms: mobile, tablet and gaming, are heavily engaged in social media and follow companies that engage customers electronically, ie, through Facebook pages and mobile websites. These skills offer a great opportunity to build a social media service industry and to employ people who will not just work to pay bills but because they love it. Because ‘Millennials’ spend significant amounts of time interacting online, they understand the ‘ins and outs’ of the online environment and because they are also customers they understand the interactive experience that customers expect online. With this understanding of the online space as one of engagement and the infrastructure needed for delivery, Barbados is able to provide the key features.
The export of social media services will also allow Barbados to boost its economy through higher employment. The online space is one of web like connectivity. Modern modes of communication demand that Businesses’ Facebook pages are linked to their Twitter pages which feed back to their website, which acts as the home base. This level of integration requires Consultants, Web Developers, Copywriters, Graphic Designers, Videographers and Photographers who work as a team to implement social media strategies. This approach allows for higher levels of employment across a wide spectrum of fields.
Barbados already has international exposure as a business hub. We have proof that exporting e-services from Barbados is feasible based on the track records already established by our cutting edge companies in Barbados. Because the social media industry is attracting global buzz, its also an opportunity for Barbados to increase its visibility in the international business arena. Maximising the social media market is not confined to managing social media campaigns, but can also expand to developing apps that can transform the world of business.