Interview: Mariels Almeda Winhoffer

How does ANALITIKA consortium plan to turn the Philippines into a regional analytics centre?

MARIELS ALMEDA WINHOFFER: The vision started as an IBM requirement, as we had identified analytics as a key growth area to invest in. At that time the global analytics market was worth $176bn. Today, including services, software and hardware components, it is estimated at $232bn, with the services component growing at 15%. Business process outsourcing (BPO) is a $300bn market, but it is growing at only 5%. To lead and drive analytics, we needed resources and skills. Although the Philippines was primarily a destination for BPO, application management or IT services, it also exhibited the right context for analytics in the form of graduates being groomed to move into the growing IT industry, the prevalence of BPO, the existing services base, and the understanding of processes and data.

In the shift to cognitive computing, one entity cannot do it alone. It needs a collaborative approach, an ecosystem to enable the country to shift to this new market that will deliver higher value services. ANALITIKA consortium emerged as a multi-sectoral alliance aimed at transforming the Philippines into a global centre for analytics by defining future jobs and developing new skills. The aim is to execute on the roadmap we are building and institutionalise it as an industry.

Can the responsibility for human capital development be addressed by cooperation with academia?

WINHOFFER: Everyone anticipates big data and analytics will be the next big thing, and is trying to understand what the new roles will be, as businesses will need to compete. ANALITIKA consortium comprises leaders of each industry working on three streams. The first is job role creation, as so far the roles are largely undefined – though two are emerging in analytics: data scientists and chief data officers, who will work with and monetise data, creating new business models.

Second is skills development, having obtained the support of the Commission on Higher Education and brought experts to enable universities to provide training on how to use the tool and build competency based on the as-yet undefined vision of an analytics professional. From July 2013, 12 universities offered business analytics as part of their curriculum. Grades 11 and 12 also offer the opportunity to integrate analytics into the curricula. What is continually underlined is that our graduates are insufficiently qualified. Internships with companies integrating analytics would also embed them into these trends, making them more productive.

The third stream has to do with awareness as a way of positioning the Philippines as an analytics centre. Education and awareness are important given our population of 103m with differing levels of education. We must reach the least educated so they also benefit.

Can analytics address public- and private-sector needs in the Philippines? What industries are best positioned to benefit from its application?

WINHOFFER: Analytics will change how we do things. Data will be part of how we live our lives, determining things like what form of transport to take and what retail outlets to patronise. Analytics is being used in specific projects, with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) establishing an Intelligence Operations Centre for Emergency Management and supporting project NOAH with the vision of creating a centralised source of analytics to perform simulations and predictive analytics to prepare for any potential disaster. We are providing technology and analytics space in partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature to increase corn yields by 20% through the use of data.

We are working with DOST and the University of the Philippines in genomics. We also aim to promote how to use analytics to decipher which government programmes are having an impact on targeted results in areas like poverty alleviation. In addition, for small enterprises and new entrepreneurs, analytics can facilitate the leveraging of technology, tools and methodology to revitalise business models they want to promote.