CONSUMERS are the driving force in the digital shift of enterprises, said Jovy Hernandez, first vice president of PLDT Alpha Enterprises, in yesterday’s ICT-BPM Conference and Expo at the Cebu City Marriott Hotel.

Hernandez said companies in the Philippines have been enjoying an “economic tidal wave” in the past years, citing how stocks have been steadily going up, poised to break the 8,000 level this year.

The key to sustaining and accelerating this growth is the digital evolution, he said.

He said even PLDT is undergoing such a shift, led by a new generation of knowledge and technology workers who are leading the cultural change. He cited as example his 21-year-old son, who like many in his generation, solely buys things online.

“When he graduates, starts working and has disposable income, where do you think he will spend it?” Hernandez pointed out.

He said businesses should look at e-commerce as complementary storefronts to their brick and mortar outlets.

From less than one percent in 1998, e-commerce now accounts for nine percent of retail sales in the country, driven by the likes of Zalora and Lazada.

He said that for businesses, it’s no longer just about the web but about new opportunities like targeted marketing, mobile presence and e-commerce.

He said PLDT is going beyond just being a telco but into being the preferred technology enabling arm of businesses.

Hernandez cited the Digital Evolution Index study by The Fletcher School at Tufts University that showed the Philippines as being one of the break out countries along with Vietnam, Colombia, India, Mexico, Malaysia and China.

In the index, break out countries are those with the “potential to develop strong economies.” “Though their overall score is still low, they are moving upward and are poised to become stand out countries in the future,” according to the index.

Hernandez said advances in big data and analytics allow companies unprecedented insights into consumer behavior. He demonstrated how they were able to get data on where people in Cebu converge, via their opt-in system, in the morning rush hour and at lunch. He said this information can help stores and restaurants optimize their offerings.

He said they were able to use analytics to study movements of business process management workers in Makati and are currently undertaking an extensive study into their behaviors in collaboration with the industry.

He also said big data analytics at the North Luzon Expressway informs decisions on traffic management, construction and investments.

Hernandez said big data analytics will have profound implications on business and companies should be ready to tap its potential.