Interview: Hans Bayaborda
How do you assess the feasibility of the government’s National Broadband Plan (NBP)?
HANS BAYABORDA: The plan is a necessary step forward in the digital transformation of the Philippines as the government seeks to provide telecommunications services, such as broadband internet, to underserved or unserved areas throughout the country. The initiative is a huge undertaking, with the Department of Information and Communications Technology estimating P77.9bn ($1.5bn) in project costs.
To alleviate the impact of high outgoings, proper coordination and integration will be of great significance, requiring integration of the existing infrastructure and coordination among stakeholders.
There is tremendous opportunity in the country right now, as the NBP focuses on areas outside industrial zones and major cities. In addition to broadband infrastructures, new technologies will be vital as we move forward. Spectrum frequencies and satellites, for example, will be of particular importance for achieving wider distribution of broadband access.
Where should policy makers and private firms focus their efforts to improve cyber resilience?
BAYABORDA: The focus should be on cloud computing, not just for operational efficiency, but also for security. While there is still an ongoing perception among some business leaders that the cloud is less secure, we are also seeing a shift in mentality as many organisations, including government, adopt a cloudfirst policy. Nonetheless, we continue to champion the advances being made in cloud computing on security and privacy. Moving forward, as current cyberthreats become more sophisticated, organisations need to know that it will be safer to use the cloud as opposed to relying on traditional forms of IT.
Data privacy and security is of the utmost importance. This technology should allow businesses of all sizes to digitally transform by driving innovation that extends capabilities and builds powerful platforms, which in turn make the rate of innovation faster.
To what extent are Philippine companies effectively leveraging predictive analytics?
BAYABORDA: From business process outsourcing (BPO) firms to financial service institutions, we are seeing more Philippine companies leveraging their data through the use of predictive analytics. Some companies started with social media data and have developed capabilities around it to offer a service that builds more predictive analytics services. In the long term, this will eventually optimise the efficiency and Various BPO firms in the Philippines have large amounts of data and are now starting to see opportunities to leverage that data to be closer to the customer. We are also seeing how data and analytics enable the call-centre workforce to perform more high-value tasks like cross selling and upselling. We seek to design technology that complements, rather than substitutes, human labour and encourage business leaders to replace the labour-saving and automation mindset with that of maker and creation.
What steps can be taken to remove barriers to entry for tech start-ups in the Philippines?
BAYABORDA: The local start-up scene is still young, with minimal capital flows compared to other markets. In addition to a lack of ICT infrastructure, tech startups looking to enter the country face several barriers, such as a lack of funding, talent and cybersecurity. There is, however, an emergence of local start-up accelerators, innovation hubs, venture capitalists and angel investors, which should help young firms.
Through the Philippine Roadmap for Digital Startups, the government is helping new companies to thrive and successfully establish themselves. The breadth of support is growing, together with the industry.
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