Ng: Growing numbers

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Thursday, June 5, 2014


IN THE last few days, we had the Cebu ICTBPM Conference and it was a good opportunity to hear from various stakeholders, and practitioners. The good news is that this industry has continued to grow and now employs about over 900,000 people, earning for our country over $16.5 billion. The target is that this year, we will hit over one million employed, and will earn over $18 billion.

I am excited but I hope that we can also overcome our problems so we can grow more rapidly.  The outsourcing industry worldwide is slated to grow 13 to 15 percent every year, and for us to continue to be relevant, we have to grow faster than that.  So while one million employed is a nice goal, I was rather hoping we could try to gun for 1.1 million.

Another significant figure I was able to get was that the Philippines (together with China and Indonesia) is among the top countries that spent the most number of minutes on these four combined tasks – TV, computer, phone and tablet. 

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While we don’t watch as much TV as people in the United States and Europe, we do spend more time in our tablets and phones, as well as in front of the computer.  Is that a surprise? In fact, I am not sure whether you could believe this, but it says that Filipinos spend 99 minutes in front of the TV, 143 minutes on their PC, 174 minutes on their cellphone and 115 minutes on their tablets. Of course, that is well over eight hours, but what seems to be the new reality now is that people play with their computers, tablets, and phones at the same time while also watching TV.

Officially, the Philippines has 38 million Internet users, which is about 36 percent penetration to our population of 100 million. This is low compared to China’s 618 million, United States’ 263 million, Japan’s 101 million, India’s 154 million and Indonesia’s 71 million.  However, our growth was faster. We grew 27 percent in 2013, and 36 percent in 2012, while in both of these years, China grew only 10 percent, while United States grew less than five percent.

In terms of smartphones, countries like the United States, Japan, UK and even Korea have already reached mostly 60 to 70 percent of smartphone penetration. Admittedly the Philippines is still at 19 percent, which means only one out of five already owns a smartphone. However, it is almost certain this will grow rapidly the next few years, as we grew our smartphone market by 19 percent in 2012, and 43 percent in 2013.

One of the other figures that I find encouraging is the number of startups.  During the conference, it was revealed that Singapore, and Malaysia easily have hundreds of startups.  From what I know, Cebu alone has over 50, and it is growing rapidly. In fact, there were several angel investors and venture capitalists that came over to the conference. 

This weekend, there will be a Cebu Startup Weekend at the University of Cebu and we are expecting over a hundred people to come and work it out.  For more information on Startup Weekend, check out www.cebu.startupweekend.org. (wilson@ngkhai.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 06, 2014.

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