Interview: Ryan Guadalquiver
What role can ICT integration and cloud computing play in empowering small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to compete more effectively?
RYAN GUADALQUIVER: Over the past years there have been significant technological advancements that have propelled people and businesses into a digital and mobile economy, especially in the Philippines where mobile devices are highly propagated and telcos have a high penetration rate. The existing environment has created an idea economy where the size of an enterprise, whether large or small, does not matter and good ideas can be easily transformed into products or services. Due to increased access to new technologies, from cloud computing to big data, a new style of business has emerged with IT solutions at the forefront to enable the transformation of ideas into products and services at a fraction of the cost.
The adoption of IT solutions by businesses is anchored in four pillars. Firstly, cloud computing can help SMEs access their target markets faster, and without being restrained by their physical location. Secondly, big data is driving organisations to easily analyse their target markets so they are able to introduce the right products and ideas at the right time. Thirdly, security is another area that has become embedded in IT solutions to minimise the risks of digitisation. Lastly, mobile communications have opened new venues through which to reach unserved segments of the broader population with mobile solutions. These four trends allow SMEs to participate in a levelled playing field and access markets faster and in a more cost-efficient manner.
To what extent will the increased use of virtual systems and smart infrastructure solutions decrease the risks associated with legacy systems?
GUADALQUIVER: There has been a large adoption of digitisation and automation by individual consumers and businesses. In back-end computing we have seen double-digit growth of virtualised infrastructure systems vis-à-vis a double-digit drop on the use of legacy servers. At the forefront of the digitalisation and automation of operations we have seen more innovative industries such as telecoms, banking and retail, which have already moved towards more virtual environments. Meanwhile, industries such as health care, education and government are still in the process of transformation. As applications evolve from monolithic infrastructures they can be put on virtual environments or clouds, allowing industries to access them without investing in large capital expenditures but instead by transitioning to a pay-per-use model.
How can the private and public sector work together to contribute to industry growth?
GUADALQUIVER: Academia, government and particularly the major industry players – especially those involved in IT and the business process outsourcing sector – already have several programmes in place to enhance the available human capital pool, some of which are very comprehensive. However, there needs to be an effort to create a collaborative platform where all groups can converge and tap into private and public schools to provide input on curricula, for instance, through the creation of an ICT council.
From an approach perspective, there has to be a re-evaluation of the current school curriculum, strengthening maths and science skills at primary school level, while new skills required by new waves of IT professionals would need to be embedded in curriculum at the college level, working in partnership with the Commission on Higher Education. Simultaneously, large industry players are putting internship programmes in place as they see the gap in terms of ICT skills among the broader population. This needs to be incorporated as part of a more comprehensive programme, which will eventually lead to more sustainable employment within ICT-related sectors.
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