Top management needed in digital transformation

GIVEN the pace at which digital innovation is disrupting industries, business decision makers or the CEOs must make tough decisions and lead the digital transformation of their businesses.

While he understands that Filipino business leaders deal with different challenges and work pressure, IBM Philippines country manager Luis Pineda stressed the need for CEOs to also look at how digital innovation has been making industries step ahead of the competition and how has it left business leaders scratching their foreheads for failure to adopt to changes.

“Business leaders here are actually quite sophisticated in terms of their understanding of what needs to be done. But, sometimes, what prevents them from doing something right away is they have other basic priorities that they need to get done,” Pineda explained.

“Sometimes there are other broken things and they fix the basic first, before they really do more exciting technological advanced things.” Digital transformation, according to Pineda, is not just the sole responsibility of the IT leaders in the company. “For it to work, it needs the executive support,” he said.

In the Philippine setting, IBM Philippines chief technologist Lope Doromal said there is already a high awareness on digital transformation among big and small enterprises and the intent to fully adopt it.

“We noticed that businesses that have done significant work in terms of going through this (digital transformation) journey are companies whose mandate comes from the top,” said Doromal.

“This is not something that the chief information officer (CIO) alone executes. It is normally the president or CEO who leads, if he/she wants to get or stay on top,” he said, adding that CEOs should communicate to the board and its employees the significance of embracing digital innovation to sustain the growth of the business.

But, digital transformation is already in the roadmap of most Filipino businesses, said Pineda. Some might not use cognitive technology but they are highly aware about investing in sophisticated cybersecurity products.

“They are well aware that if they don’t have security underpinning when they digitally transform, this will open up to more cyber attacks,” said Pineda, adding that a lot of local companies have also embraced the cloud, unlike some three years ago.

“I think we are adopting fast enough. Companies are innovative in their own ways,” he said.

Compared with its Southeast Asian neighbors, the Philippines is already at par when it comes to digital transformation.

“Most organizations in the Philippines, because of the better economic condition here, are growing fast so they have more time looking at what else to prepare for in this age of digital economy,” Pineda said.

He noted that the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) tools, for instance, is helpful to local companies, as it is primarily supported by the English language.

Other countries in Southeast Asia, on the other hand, may find it difficult to maximize AI, as there are only few AI tools that are programmed in non-English languages.
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