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We may not have the flying cars, fully functional hover boards, and a promising future that the “Back to the Future” movie series promised us for 2015, but we are not too far behind. Digital media strategist and producer Ej Villafranca reports that even with the current economy facing a number of setbacks due to the worsening traffic, pre-election drama, and airport shenanigans, there is a significant growth happening in our tech and digital industry to be excited about—at least for now.

HATCHING THE STARTUP ECONOMY

Although our country may be considered as one of the youngest in the tech community, many big players, including those from Singapore and the Silicon Valley, have eyed notable potential in the country’s startup industry, that they began investing. What’s unique in the local scene is the fact that a lot of these startups have a strong focus on social impact. They want to solve the relative challenges that the country faces, like public transportation issues, slow government actions, ineffective regulatory systems and other economic issues. This critical and problem-solving mindset motivates Filipinos to innovate and create solutions that catch the attention of big players in the international tech scene; which, in turn, may create a bigger social impact worldwide.

The estimate on the local tech ecosystem is already above 10,000 people according to Founder Institute’s research. This ecosystem is not only composed of tech founders and investors, but tech people, corporate supporters, public servants, elected officials, journalists, students, academics, co-working spaces and many more. There are more than 10 different startup incubation companies and collaborative spaces already here in the Philippines, with the likes of Ideaspace, Impact Hub, A space, Collab, Kickstart, UP Enterprise Center for Technopreneurship, Ayala Technology Business Incubator (Ayala TBI), DOST-PEZA Open Technology Business Incubator, Cebu Business Incubator for I.T., Launchgarage, ManilaAngels, Founders Institute Manila, PSIA SPrInG.PH, and Hatchd to name a few.

One of the most promising startup programs that is emerging in the tech scene is the Founder Institute (FI). The Founder Institute is the world’s largest entrepreneur training and startup launch program, helping aspiring founders across the globe build enduring technology companies. In their four-month, part-time program, an entrepreneur can “learn by doing” and launch a company through structured training courses, practical business-building assignments, and expert feedback. Plus, participants are not required to quit their day jobs to participate. FI is present in more than 100 cities. To date, more than 1,500 startup companies around the world have finished the course.

Jorge Azurin of the Founder Institute shared that with the growing startup scene, there would be a bigger number of local and foreign angel funders, as well as Venture Capitalist companies in the upcoming year. “A number of startups have already been acquired and merged. We expect Sen. Bam Aquino’s startup bill to take effect. And you will also see the government trying to catch up and offer all their resources as DOST [Department of Science and Technology] has already started with this, the same thing that they did for the BPO industry,” said Azurin.

Considering that our economic dilemma serves as one of the main reasons that sparked the creative minds of these tech individuals as well as attracted the global tech scene, should it be something to be merely thankful for or something to reconsider?

BIG DATA GETTING BIGGER ON DEMAND

Now we venture into the race on gathering consumer data, putting everything that users do online under surveillance so digital marketers may be able to create more predictive, targeted, and engaging campaigns. Gathering digital data means social media analytics, digital transactions with impressions, up to software-processing everything about your digital behavior and so much more. This is very crucial, given that the Philippines is the top country in the world with the time most spent in the Internet, with a daily average of 6.3 hours on laptops and desktops and an average of 3.3 hours on mobile according to data of wearesocial.sg, an international media agency that does social and digital monitoring for their global campaigns. However, it was not determined whether it’s because it takes our Internet connection 10 times longer than our neighboring countries, or we are just simply that digitally present all the time.

Eric Alberto, PLDT executive vice president, explained that the global wallet for data is expected to grow to about $230 billion over the next five years from its current level of $150 billion as big companies find the relevance for information, the more likely the need would increase.

Alberto, who is also president of ePLDT, said the big data solutions would allow enterprises to analyze openly available data and gain insights that drive predictive and data-driven decision-making in their businesses.

“Big data drives our everyday lives. Every action generates data, which become valuable insights that empower enterprises, organizations, government agencies, and even small and medium enterprises to develop more effective products, services, and programs for their target markets,” Alberto said.

This 2016, we are expecting less of gut-feel approach and more of data driven decisions. Along with this are decision makers that are willing to apply analytics derived insights to key business operations. Intuitive decision-making will diminish somewhat as companies infuse analytics into everything that employees touch. This is something that could already be seen in the growing BPO industry.

DIGITAL MEDIA REVOLUTION  OF THE “ALDUB” NATION

By now, most people have one way or another heard of the “Aldub” phenomenon that has taken the social media platform by storm. Why has this created such a huge impact to our advertising and media community?

“We’re moving towards the direction where both [social and mainstream media] have no choice but to coexist,” said by Boy Abunda, a Filipino television host, publicist, talent manager and celebrity endorser. This is a trend that a lot of advertising and media agencies are banking on. As everyone pursues to create 360 degree campaigns, the “Aldub” phenomenon creates a case study on social and real-time engagement. It serves as a good example to “traditionalist” clients that try to veer away from digital engagement and lack understanding of the positive impact it could bring to their business.

It revolved around engagement that has an emergence of cultural values, local behavior and the appeal of characters most audiences could relate to and not be forced upon. There is more to debunk on the matter from the perspective of analysts regarding the phenomenon than just a simple giddiness over the popular “pabebe wave”.

NOT TOO FAR BEHIND

The digital and tech industry is definitely growing in the local scene. It is very promising as everyone is leaning toward data and engagement. A startup scene that is devoted to digital media, solving economic problems, big data analysis to provide better solutions, as well as an ever growing landscape that merges different platforms that effectively communicate and interact with the local community can only result in growth and in opportunities.

It is safe to say we can now begin to expect more tech innovations and more global projects in collaboration with other countries. More investments on data gathering and better digital campaigns that is more interactive and engaging are on the way. We can hope that with all these, somebody would manage to get Manila’s traffic situation out of the way.

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