Interview: Manuel Pangilinan
How can the telecommunications industry capitalise on social media for marketing and services?
MANUEL PANGILINAN: The fusion of social media, mobility, cloud, and information has been called the “nexus of forces”, which has transformed the way consumers interact with each other and their data. Given the growing pervasiveness of smartphones, tablets, and other mobile access devices in the local market, social media has become a powerful tool to engage customers – both individuals and companies.
Some social media initiatives include the use of LinkedIn to build communities for thought leadership programmes, the use of Twitter for after-sales, the use of Facebook fan pages to announce events and launches as well as document these through photo and video postings after the fact.
To what extent can national connectivity advance socioeconomic transformation in the Philippines?
PANGILINAN: Several studies have already shown a positive correlation between connectivity and growth. One study by the global consultancy McKinsey, for example, reveals that a 10% rise in broadband penetration results in a 0.7% increase in GDP and a 0.3% jump in employment. It added that the internet is proving to be nearly 10 times more efficient in delivering certain crucial public services such as health and education. This means that internet connectivity really contributes to economic growth and even social transformation. Moreover, the practical experience of people demonstrates how vital communications are to development.
In what way can a fibre-optic infrastructure improve the adoption of technologically advanced systems?
PANGILINAN: We like to say that the future is in our fibre. However, the truth is that fibre is already part of the present and will indeed power the future. The world is producing and consuming enormous amounts of data every day. And this mountain of information keeps growing at a faster rate. Only fibre-optic technology can carry that level of traffic to and fro – from the places data needs to travel and at the speeds that ensure quality of experience for the data users. With this in mind, PLDT has made significant investments in both domestic and international fibre-optic networks, both of which are unparalleled in the Philippines.
What are some of the main challenges in fostering innovation and the production of local products for the telecommunications industry?
PANGILINAN: The key challenge is creating a robust ecosystem that fosters and promotes technology innovation – our model is Silicon Valley. We need to build something similar in this country. That is why telecoms companies like PLDT, along with its kindred companies Meralco, Maynilad and Metro Pacific, have set up Idea-Space Foundation to help create that environment.
Through the IdeaSpace programme, tech start-ups will be supported with an initial kitty of PHP500m ($12.05m), over the next five years. Start-ups will also be provided with mentoring, training and logistics support. We will also foster partnerships between tech start-ups and companies involved in the programme.
How can small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) be supported to integrate their use of technology?
PANGILINAN: In a way, technology can be a great equaliser. SMEs now have access to sophisticated technologies that just a few years ago were available only to large corporations. With these technologies, SMEs can grow in size, raise their efficiencies and go global.
PLDT is pushing this process forward by offering tailor-fit solutions for SMEs, developing applications that are quick to deploy, easy to learn, and relatively simple to maintain. There is a need also to bundle these new solutions with existing services – landlines and internet service – to lower the barriers to adoption as much as possible. We also monitor and support the development and adoption of the technology by providing assistance for a successful migration from old systems.
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