Filipino firms need to scale investments on AI to catch APAC

NO question about it.

Philippine business firms know the huge impact of artificial intelligence (AI) in “driving productivity, driving innovation, and driving higher margins.”

But, and a big “but” is haunting Filipino companies, as far as investment in AI is concerned.

On March 21 at Okada Manila in Parañaque City, Metro Manila, Microsoft Philippines and International Data Corporation (IDC) presented to the media their joint study titled Future-Ready Business: Assessing Asia Pacific’s Growth Potential through AI.

The study included a survey on a Philippine setting, with 109 business leaders and 100 workers as respondents.

At least three big positives emerged from the survey of Filipinos. Data about local companies show “that in terms of culture, infrastructure, and capabilities” the Philippines is OK.

Randy Roberts, head of Operations at IDC Philippines, emphasized this in an interview with SDN — Science and Digital News after he presented the survey’s results during their press conference. The media briefing was part of the conference Microsoft conducted at the Japanese-owned 5-star hotel.

Filipino companies, he pointed out, “are very close to the Asia Pacific region (in AI) as a whole. So, they are not behind.”

There’s just one glaring negative, though. Investment.

“The big (area) that the Philippines is behind is on the investment side,” said Roberts. He added that local firms in relation with AI have been developing strategy and culture. “But the investment is very far behind.”

a Microsoft invest

Color red represents the Philippines as compared to Asia Pacific in terms of using AI borne by the Microsoft-IDC study. The big gap for the Philippines is on AI investment. 

What could be the reason?

The IDC Philippines executive said these companies have not yet established their budget on AI yet, meaning their budget for technology and their people in terms of the skillsets that they need to deliver AI.

“So, they developed the strategy, they developed the culture, but unless they invest the money to build the tools and the skillsets, they are not gonna make the progress that they want to make,” said Roberts.

“They will be left behind, certainly, if they don’t prioritize AI as an investment area. (That’s) what the data is telling us. They are going to be left behind.”

His message to the Filipino workers is not to be afraid of AI. “AI would augment your existing role, it is not gonna take your role.”

a Micosoft orgs

Here, the slide shows that while Philippine company executives are aware of AI’s vital role in digital transformation, yet not even half of local business are now into AI.

Roberts pointed out that, again based on the data from the study, in terms of culture, the optimism for AI is certainly there. The vision of what AI is possible to do for them is there, but the key message is on the investment side.

The IDC executive suggested that Filipino companies would need to look at budgeting in the next three years, prioritize putting investments on technologies to drive their AI technology.

Nothing to change in mindset, he said,

“I think the mindset is OK. What the data is telling us is the mindset is there, the culture is there, the capabilities and the strategies (are there), the mindset is there.

“The recognition that AI is beneficial to the future of (their) business, driving productivity, driving innovation, and driving higher margins, the recognition of that is in the Philippines. It is just that the big gap is investing money to make those things happen,” he said.

Just a matter of priorities

Roberts said Philippine companies need only to determine their priorities in their investment in technologies, a matter of priority.

“When you look at other things that you could invest in, IT technology, OT technology, or IoT and cloud and all the other things that they have to worry about, it is just a matter of prioritizing where they wanna invest their money.”

a-microsoft-4.jpgThe two ladies are Jek Hermida (in red blazer), Data and AI Solutions specialist, Microsoft Philippines, and First Senior Vice President Margarita B. Lopez, who heads Digital Banking at Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC). They are joined by the two gentlemen, Ricky Kapur (second from right), general manager for Enterprise and Partners Group, Microsoft Asia Pacific, and Randy Roberts, head of Operations, International Data Corp. (IDC) Philippines.

The survey, he said, is saying that AI will have a huge impact on Filipino companies’ business involving productivity, customer engagement, and innovation which translates to two times hike in productivity for their investment.

On the other hand, Roberts said the big message is that out of those surveyed workers, only 6 percent are afraid of AI taking over their job, but actually more than 60 percent agree that AI will help their existing job. (SDN )

Featured image is Ricky Kapur, general manager for Enterprise and Partners Group, Microsoft Asia Pacific.

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