DIGITAL and workforce transformation in outsourcing, instead of cost cutting, will be the key to industry recovery, Accenture Senior Managing Director Ambe C. Tierro said.

“The COVID crisis is very unique in many ways, but one thing that is relevant to our industry is despite the severe impacts to industries and businesses, majority will agree that the key to recovery is not just further cost cutting,” she said in the online International Innovation Summit on Thursday.

She said that the outsourcing workforce must be linked to in-demand skills, matching the training of employees with the requirements of the industry.

The outsourcing workforce must not just be productive, but “thrive” while working in digital, she added, which means making investments in cloud technologies. Investments in virtual tools allows the workforce to shift to a digital work-from-home environment more easily, she said.

“They’re used to using collaboration tools and working with people virtually,” she said.

Ms. Tierro noted that the pandemic has upended the industry’s business continuity plans.

“Pre-COVID, we had plans that were either facility-level or contract-level BCPs (business continuity plans), but now we almost need individual-level plans. What happens if a particular person has an extended (power) outage in their house?” she said.

Hans B. Sicat, country manager of ING Bank N.V. Manila, said that digital transformation is a multi-year process.

“You have to look at the appropriate talent and human resources to help you along in this journey,” he said, noting that there must be ample budget for transformation.

Mr. Sicat said top management itself must buy-in to digital transformation, which means that the shift to digital is not just the work of tech-related employees.

“What you really have is the full enterprise being involved. When I say that, I mean there are multiple teams from various disciplines setting up whether it’s a digital bank here in the Philippines—but it is also all those guys who are responsible, let’s say, for regulatory concerns, for risk management, and for business and strategy,” he said.

The outsourcing industry group is  rolling out its upskilling pilot program for workers, identifying data analytics, medical coding, software development, six sigma, computer graphics, and digital animation as priority skills that will be taught through online platforms.

The sector scaled down its pilot program after it shifted to online training sessions due to the pandemic. The Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines maintains that it hopes to train a million employees over five years once funding is available. — Jenina P. Ibañez