Leveraging digital technology to build a knowledge-based economy in Fiji

Leveraging digital technology to build a knowledge-based economy in Fiji

The COVID-19 pandemic has realigned the way how we perceive technology and use it in our daily lives. From having to drive down or catching the bus to work to start our day at our desks, to attending meetings from our couches or dining tables – technology became a significant part of our lives more than ever before.

In fact, we can say that this digital mandate isn’t new; it’s simply been brought into sharp focus. Prior to the pandemic, a paradigm shift towards digitization of the global economies was already underway, however, such events as the COVID-19 pandemic have accelerated the paradigm.

The impact of COVID-19 has been massive – sending shock waves through the world economy and possibly triggering the largest global economic crisis in more than a century, leaving economies struggling to get back onto their feet. While the rest of the world had seen an unprecedented mass exit from the workforce spurred on by the pandemic leading to worker shortages, the concept of outsourcing had gained popularity amongst many global businesses, especially where a large portion of work required was to be done remotely and in a non-physical contact format.

The pandemic may have been a reality check for businesses in most countries who have been reluctant to embrace digital transformation, however, Fiji’s digital landscape and its outsourcing industry can be seen well placed for service delivery. For a country like Fiji, the past few years was an opportune time for us to get in the race with the big outsourcing players like India and the Philippines, and extend a helping hand to global businesses by providing them with quality, reliable, and an educated global workforce, especially in areas such as customer care support, IT support, financial support, and other back-office operations.

This is because Fiji’s outsourcing industry is predominantly a service-driven industry, especially the BPO sector which is knowledge-driven and requires a lot of human interaction skills and capabilities to be able to support its clients. Which is why, Outsource Fiji is closely working with its partners to ensure that we have the right capabilities; and look at avenues for leveraging digital technologies to be able to offer training and capacity-building opportunities for our people in Fiji, especially through open-source learning platforms, which of course, helps us further build this knowledge-based economy. We have also been actively working with institutions to further build the knowledge economy by introducing courses such as the contact center course which incorporates elements of digital technologies and adaptability.

Our people are known to be resilient and have the inherent skill of being able to adapt to change, learn, and grow. This is why Fiji has become well-placed as a risk diversification destination and is gaining a lot of popularity in the international outsourcing space. This demand for our skilled people is complemented by Fiji’s ICT infrastructure. The importance of ICT infrastructure cannot be understated, especially in this digital age. Fiji has a reliable ICT structure with fast internet, heavy ICT equipment, and a population that is more than capable of handling the most modern and up-to-date operations which involve digital technology. Our ICT infrastructure has made digitization possible in the public sector as well as the private sector and can be seen to bring businesses and communities together to advance the economy through a more collaborative behavior rather than a competitive behavior – which is essential for the growth of an economy.

Additionally, digital transformation provides developing economies like Fiji new opportunities to leapfrog industrial-age infrastructure, draw on the vast knowledge spillovers from the internet, take advantage of new markets offered by digital platforms, and explore production possibilities enabled by digital technologies. Being an industry, which highly relies and focuses on digital technology and ICT infrastructure, we have seen that it is crucial for the industry body to create dialogues with the Fiji Government and bring policymakers together to bring about policy changes that allow us to explore new markets and create a more conducive environment for the industry, which also benefits the country at large.

Finally, it is evident that Fiji represents the future of outsourcing and has all the right ingredients and the right key players to continue to grow and build the knowledge economy further. The industry aims to futureproof Fiji’s economy and become a sustainable pillar for the country. As an industry body, we also strive to ensure that the industry creates equitable and accessible opportunities for the people of Fiji, especially for the youth population, who are exposed to digital technologies at a much greater scale. The digital economy is here to offer incredible opportunities, find new solutions to old sustainability problems, and give new answers to old questions on inclusive economic growth. It is also noteworthy to point out that the industry leverages digital technology to create a more knowledge-based economy in Fiji – we are a growing industry and have so much more to offer to Fiji and its people. In just over two years, the industry stands at over 8,000 people from approximately 3,000 people employed in the industry prior to the pandemic. That is the potential of the industry right now and we hope to continue working with our stakeholders as well as the Fiji Government to continue to provide employment, education, and capacity-building opportunities to our people.