Doing Business in the Philippines During the Digital Age

A look at navigating the digital transformation of The Philippiines.

With the Philippines as a country in the midst of a digital transformation, it is no surprise that more opportunities related to digitizing business platforms are arising. Thus, it won’t take long until large local-owned enterprise down to the micro, small, and medium entrepreneurs adapt to a more online business environment as access to technology becomes more convenient.

Based on a report from Channel Asia Singapore, there are more than 5,000 jobs in the fields of digital business and cloud computing available for aspiring IT professionals in the country as of June this year. German software giant SAP alone is looking at 75 positions for their digital platforms to be filled within this year. The company continues to be bullish in promoting inclusive software solutions in the country according to SAP Philippines Managing Director Edler Panlilio during the recently concluded SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUGa (Americas’ SAP Users’ Group) Annual Conference in Florida.

In an interview with The Manila Standard, Panlilio said that these recent developments, particularly on database management system SAP HANA®, will benefit businesses and industries of varying scales – making their technology accessible for everybody in the long run. Aside from that, SAP has also been exploring partnerships with local government units to integrate the company’s enterprise solutions in developing “smart cities” in the country.

This surge of opportunities for digital isn’t a coincidence though even for a country that is still catching up like the Philippines. Digital is indeed the way forward for businesses much as integrating technology in the daily is the main philosophy of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. 2018 alone saw huge corporations filing bankruptcies with the rise of e-commerce platforms. In the Philippine context as well, major publications for example have made the effort of transferring to online circulations due to rising costs and shifting demands. Businesses nowadays need to rely on digital technology to thrive and this is a paradigm that will not be slowing down anytime soon. It’s either you keep up or get left behind.

Despite the increasing opportunities and changing nature of business in the Philippines, the biggest question still remains – is the country ready for this kind of setup? If you take available infrastructure, policy environment, and other relevant factors into consideration, the safest answer would be…not yet. However, with the growing appreciation and interest in industries such as cloud computing or e-commerce, the Philippines can catch up and compete with the global market. There are just some important aspects that should be given urgent attention should we want to fast track this digital revolution.

An article from Business World, one of the Philippines’ leading business broadsheets, suggests that with the current business models in the country, adapting to the digital must come from the top. This means that leadership is the first one that should undergo a digital transformation. Such process does not only begin and end from acquiring modern machinery and deploying it to the workforce. A digital leadership requires constant presence in all platforms, open communication modes, and. A more flexible workforce – among others. In this way, digital-age leaders will “live” digitally rather than “being” digital. Such is integral especially in the discourse of implementing a more flexible working hierarchy which could entail interactive working conditions for employers and employees alike, for example.

As leaders go more digital, the Philippine business industry should also give more prime to policies which may affect the newer environments they are trying to embrace. One instance is the enactment of stronger data privacy legislation in the Philippines. This is an important factor to consider as ensuring security and avoiding any breaches in personal privacy in the digital platform is a sensitive terrain to walk around. By going digital, businesses can work with more creative strategies and solutions to ensure that everything remains safe and private to all parties concerned when needed.

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