THE 2021 Global Innovation Index Report of Tholons International shows the Philippines dropping from the second spot down to the eighth spot as an ideal location for digital jobs. Manila was also unseated from its fifth spot last year to the eighteenth spot while Cebu slumped down from the 12th spot to 52nd of a list of the Top 100 Cities. And unlike the past years, next wave cities like Davao, Bacolod, Iloilo, Santa Rosa, Dumaguete and others are no longer on the list. A sad development for the Philippines, but what could be the reason? The evolving metrics used by Tholons in ranking locations due to the changing requirements of a global market driven by technology and innovation could be the biggest factor in this situation.
In 2010, Bacolod was named as No. 100 of Top 100 Cities for outsourcing. It was the first time the city entered the Top 100 Tholons International Report. The highest we reach was No. 89 in 2018. But today the metrics have changed. In 2010, innovation and digital transformation were factored in various metrics like business environment, talent supply and infrastructure. But starting 2018, digital transformation formed part of the criteria at twenty-five percent.
This year, digital transformation of a country and cities comprise forty percent. Tholons introduced innovation, startup ecosystem and digital transformation as key components to define its index for Top 50 Digital Nations and Top 100 Super Cities in 2017. The current index for 2021 has a much higher emphasis on digital innovation, re-imagining of consumer experience, transcendental knowledge, future-readiness, digital competitiveness and diversity and inclusion.
Other than digital transformation, there are four factors with the same fifteen percent weight – talent, skills and scalability; ease of doing business; operation costs and business environment; and risk to business and quality of life.
In its 2021 report, Tholons International states that its Global Innovation Index serves as a benchmark to accelerate digital transformation of industries and services globally. The index evaluates ranks and provides location strategies to multinational corporations, countries, governments, multi-lateral agencies, analysts and investors. Digital is a critical element in transforming industries globally. Digital innovation in emerging technologies, such as cloud, AI, big data and analytics, which saw unprecedented demand during the pandemic, will sustain even in the coming decade.
The country needs to shape up, level up and become more competitive especially in the midst of the pandemic which fueled the need for innovation and the use of digital technologies. Cities today need to reexamine, reevaluate and redesign their roadmaps before it is too late. The gains of the past which resulted in the hard work of past stakeholders should serve as a jumping board for higher gains.
Tholons emphasizes the need for innovation at scale for enterprises as key strategy for a digital transformation process with three key elements to deliver sustainable impact.
First is to re-imagine consumer experience. Enterprises are working with creative design studios to re-imagine consumer experience. Recently, I sat down with local leaders in the entrepreneurial scene of Negros Occidental to start this process of re-imagining. Our goal is the digital transformation of Negrense MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) by empowering entrepreneurs with digital tools, accessing global markets through digital highways, creating consumer-centric branding, leveraging on digital stores, digital payment gateways, logistics and fulfillment platforms, and consolidating stakeholders under one hub in Negros Occidental.
Secondly, Tholons see a key element to scaling enterprises is to “bring in innovation”. The report says, the world is full of innovators, who have re-imagined, re-designed and implemented amazing innovative solutions to deliver snippets of near-impossible dreams. It is possible to explore, discover and bring in these innovations to make the impossible dreams, near possible. The solution design through innovation in most cases delivers the wow consumer or client experience. The innovative solution includes data and intelligent automation strategy, cloud, mobility, blockchain, AI, social media, IoT, machine learning and cybersecurity with advanced analytics to unlock new intelligence.
Third is to implement through intelligent automation. Today’s implementation is agile, powered by artificial intelligence, digital technology and machine learning. Today’s workforce consists of digital workers. A combination of all these elements is what we call intelligent automation. The operations at the workplace is set to have both human and digital workers, becoming an intelligent workforce completing the task or set of tasks with the power of intelligent automation, analytics and decision-making capabilities while increasing the productivity and quality and cutting down the cost. In the process of intelligent workforce operations, cognitive technologies play an important role, learning from the best.
In short, the criteria have changed. The country and the city need to catch up.