Microsoft upbeat on Guyana investment opportunities By Mark Ramotar
Guyana Chronicle
October 3, 2001

COMPUTER giant Microsoft is upbeat about the climate for investment opportunities here as it moves to expand its presence in the Caribbean region with the formation of the Microsoft Eastern Caribbean (MSEC) territory.

Regional Manager for Microsoft Caribbean, Mr. Rick Marcet yesterday told a news conference at Le Meridien Pegasus Hotel in Georgetown that MSEC was formed to more fully satisfy the growing needs of Microsoft's customers and partners.

Microsoft Eastern Caribbean is headquartered in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago where Microsoft has maintained a branch office since 1998, but Marcet is optimistic that an office may be set up in Guyana too.

He said Microsoft has some obvious commercial interest in Guyana, a country which he added, has the potential for a lot of business and investment opportunities in the area of Information Technology.

"Obviously Misrosoft has some commercial interest here...and I think that the climate is good for companies to begin investing and for schools to begin investing in education on Information Technology."

He also lauded President Bharrat Jagdeo for being very keen in adopting and promoting Information Technology in Guyana.

Marcet noted too that there is much discussion ongoing in the telecommunications arena which will further boost the budding Information Technology sector here.

There are some seven Internet Service Providers in Guyana currently that "really attracted us because when infrastructure is made available and made less expensive and more accessible then that attracts Microsoft to want to look at this particular market", he said.

"I certainly hope that as we progress...we will hopefully be able to open an office here."

The regional office in Trinidad will be handling Microsoft affairs in Guyana.

Microsoft also plans to work closely with the business community here and establish relationships with technology partners in Guyana.

"We currently have no certified partners in Guyana although we are working with some companies to perhaps have them certified," Marcet said.

"At the same time, it is our intent to meet with our customers, the people that actually use our products at the end of the day, and meet them face to face, understand their business issues and then link the technologies with their business issues," he said.

"Our challenge is to show them that our technology can solve a lot of their business issues."

He noted too that on this particular trip, the delegation has met several companies in an effort at understanding their business, ways of doing business in Guyana and seeing ways how Microsoft might be able to help them.

Marcet noted that Micro-Design Technology and Softech Guyana are two of their identified partners in Guyana, although they are not currently certified partners. He, however, expressed optimism that they will be certified shortly.

He said too that Microsoft loses about $5 billion a year worldwide due to piracy and urged stronger `policing' of the relevant copyright legislation.

The mission of MSEC is to provide more effective and timely sales, service and support to customers and partners in the Eastern Caribbean than was previously available, he said.

"In establishing a local and direct presence, first in Jamaica, then later in Trinidad, it became quite clear through closer and face to face interaction with customers that we need to establish a closer presence in the region as a whole," Marcet said.

The business model where all countries in the Eastern Caribbean were handled out of Miami had reached its limits in efficacy long ago, he added.

According to him, it is the company's sincere intent to raise the level of service to world class standards.

This means three primary goals - exploring all business opportunities by being proactive in the approach to business development; attaining the highest levels of customer satisfaction; and transferring technical and business solution knowledge and expertise to local partners in order to enhance the capabilities of the local Information Technology sector, he said.

Broadly speaking, and with some exceptions, Marcet said MSEC territory is defined as those countries within the Eastern Caribbean, except for the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and the French West Indies. MSEC also includes the Netherland Antilles, Aruba, Guyana and Suriname.

In support of this arrangement, Microsoft is partnering with Infotech Caribbean to serve as the primary liaison through which contact with Microsoft will be made. Infotech Caribbean will serve, as a natural extension to Microsoft thereby maximising its effect more than is possible with its current resource base, he said.

Marcet is part of a visiting three-man delegation representing Microsoft and Infotech. The delegation has been meeting officials of several companies and the government with the aim of developing and building a strong working relationship with key businesses here.

Business Development Manager in the Microsoft/Infotech Eastern Caribbean partnership, Mr. Terrence Philip said he is really excited about this partnership with Microsoft and foresees the start of some fruitful relationships with the people of Guyana.

He noted that Infotech Caribbean has been a partner with Microsoft for more than six years, with the business focus being primarily Information Technology consulting and software solutions that solve real business challenges.

"At the moment, we offer to the Eastern Caribbean `Knowledge Solutions' using technologies such as Microsoft Exchange 2000 and Microsoft Sharepoint Server; `Business Solutions' using technologies such as Microsoft Great Plains; `Infrastructure Solutions' using technologies such as .NET servers and `Internet Solutions' all built on the Microsoft.NET platform," Philip said.

He noted too that there is currently a staff of 45 full time professionals with about 75 per cent being Microsoft certified.

"With our close relationships with Microsoft, we have gained the impetus to develop our present customer base in the Eastern Caribbean region," he further added.

"We look forward to working closely with our partners and customers towards the continued development of Guyana and the Eastern Caribbean," he said.

Territory Manager for Microsoft Eastern Caribbean, Mr. George Gobin told the news conference that the announcement of MSEC as a region is an extremely important development for the Caribbean.

It brings the Caribbean closer to mainstream technical support, product and licensing information and gives it a much closer and direct relationship with Microsoft, he said.

He noted that Infotech has been a close partner of Microsoft in the Caribbean and was the first company to be registered in the Microsoft Solutions Provider programme in the Caribbean. It also has the most trained and certified specialists in the region.

Infotech will be focused on developing its partner model and will be working very closely with other Microsoft Certified partners in the region to deliver quality Microsoft based solutions to our customers, he said.

Gobin said that following this announcement yesterday, they are planning a Solutions tour event this month in Guyana, where Microsoft will showcase new products and technologies.

"I am extremely happy to be part of this evolution process and look forward to working with all our partners and customers in Microsoft Eastern Caribbean Region, to ensure customer satisfaction with the use of Microsoft Technologies," he said.

In the wake of last month's terrorist attacks on the United States, Marcet said the computer giant has no intentions of cancelling any event or plans towards its investment in the region.

"On the contrary, I think that Microsoft would like to take a leadership role in showing that the economies are robust and that people still need solutions, still need software and we're still going to be continuing with our plans unabridged," he assured.

In urging other companies to do the same, Marcet pointed out that there will obviously be some challenges in terms of reduced flights into the region but hoped that the company will overcome that.