THE importance of going digital has never been more apparent following the onslaught of Covid-19. The notion that work could only be accomplished face to face was quickly shoved out the door when businesses had to find new ways to carry on with operations amid strict safety measures and lockdowns. Before we knew it, team meetings and Zoom webinars quickly became the new norm.

In its recent "Going Hybrid: The Future of Work" report, Filipino digital service provider Sprout Solutions said that 80 percent of HR employees surveyed preferred to have hybrid or remote work arrangements implemented in their companies. Meanwhile, 91 percent of the more than 8,000 employees who participated in the survey expressed their preference for either hybrid or remote work.

But while more businesses today are keen to put digital initiatives at the heart of operational blueprints and business continuity frameworks, they can only do half the share in making the country as innovative as it needs to become. The government also has a big role to play in setting the stage for innovation and digitalization, and still has a lot to do to achieve this.

The Philippines, based on the results of the 2022 Global Finance report, placed second lowest on the list of most technologically advanced countries in East and Southeast Asia. The Philippines also fell a few notches in the global rankings of technologically advanced nations, which measured technological strength in metrics such as the number of LTE users a particular country had.

What does this mean for businesses? Given current gaps in technological advancement and the growing need to consider that remote work is the future, what do businesses need to do to bridge the tech gap, improve the implementation of work-from-home policies and help shape a vibrant future for their industries?

Choose the right tools

In a previous article, we listed some digital tools that most companies would find helpful in improving key work processes. Automation, robotics and machine learning are among the technologies that will allow companies to delegate manpower more efficiently.

More mid-size firms in the country are keen on investing in either digital or IT solutions, investing in training of staff, and funding research and development programs, according to P&A Grant Thornton's latest International Business Report.

Prioritize cybersecurity

Global research firm ThoughtLab's 2022 "Cybersecurity Solutions for a Riskier World" study, meanwhile, revealed that reported cybersecurity breaches increased by 20 percent at the height of the pandemic. What followed was an expanded role for information security officers to ensure that data protection programs sufficiently shield confidential information.

Aside from investing in effective cybersecurity software, adopting work policies that remind staff about essential data security measures is a must. Sometimes, a big data breach can be prevented by simple acts like using a strong laptop password and regularly updating programs and systems.

Focus also on talent

Digital transformation is the integration of digital initiatives and services into a company's operational model with the aim to improve and make daily work processes more seamless. Tech magazine CIO defines the whole process as a "rethinking" of policies, and the use of technology and digital programs.

From this definition, it is easy to get lost in the whole idea behind a successful digital transformation program. The thing is, digital transformation is not just about implementing innovative solutions. More importantly, it involves people. It is one thing to invest in the right digital tools and another to ensure that employees are regularly trained to handle these programs.

It also helps to concentrate on upskilling and reskilling talent. Engage them in regular coaching and mentoring activities. Ask for their inputs and suggestions. This way, you not only help them imbibe more innovative thinking; you can likewise get a good grasp of the work processes that need improvement.

There is a lot more to cover when it comes to accelerating a company's digital transformation journey. Although there remains a big gap to bridge in terms of making the country more technologically advanced, companies still have a few aces up their sleeves.

To effectively address the need to consider innovative and sustainable ways of working despite the current reality that the Philippines still lags behind its Asian neighbors, powering through the tech gap means constantly scouting for new ways to protect against cyber threats and focusing on training talent. In the end, these strategies are very much a part of every company's digital acceleration process.


As published in The Manila Times, dated 21 September 2022