By Denise A. Valdez
YANGON, MYANMAR — Kaspersky is keeping its double-digit growth forecast for its Philippine business, amid the government’s efforts to boost cybersecurity awareness.
The Russia-based cybersecurity firm said it is expecting more than 20% growth in its business-to-business (B2B) segment in the coming year. For Southeast Asia, Kaspersky said this segment is growing at a faster rate to account for half of its business in the region. The other half comprises of business-to-consumer (B2C) transactions.
“I would like to see on my B2B business — which is the SMB (small and medium-sized business) and enterprise business — in the Philippines, next year, growing at least a good double digit: 20+%. I think that’s not unrealistic to expect,” Kaspersky Managing Director for Asia Pacific Stephan Neumeier said in an interview on the sidelines of a company event here last week.
He said the Philippines is Kaspersky’s third fastest growing market in Southeast Asia in terms of the B2B segment, with an average 10% annual growth. In terms of revenue growth, the country is also among the top five contributors for Kaspersky in the region.
“Kaspersky has a very strong brand in the Philippines… Customers love to work with us because they understand that we understand our business,” Mr. Neumeier said.
Yeo Siang Tiong, Kaspersky’s general manager for Southeast Asia, noted this is largely due to the Philippines’ high awareness of cybersecurity issues, citing the information campaign implemented by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).
“The timing is also ripe. If you look at the development of the Philippines, DICT is setting up a very aggressive journey to educate everyone. They go from one town to another town talking about cybersecurity awareness. And this is something that I didn’t see in any other country,” he said.
“So that has raised quite a fair bit of awareness in the private sector. Of course, we have benefitted from it,” he added.
The other factor, Mr. Yeo said, is the country’s high literacy in information technology because of the proliferation of business process outsourcing companies in the Philippines.
The DICT is currently implementing its National Cybersecurity Plan 2022 which aims to improve cybersecurity education in the country. It involves training cybersecurity experts to increase the country’s pool of professionals and strengthening “cyber guards” that will protect government agencies holding critical information and data.
Kaspersky signed a memorandum of understanding with the DICT last year to help the government in its cybersecurity initiatives.
Mr. Neumeier said the growth potential in the Philippines is pushing Kaspersky to boost its investments in the country. A two-year plan will be developed in the coming months to determine Kaspersky’s expansion targets in each country where it is present, and he expects the Philippines to be one of those with increased investments.
“We look into those countries who are already contributing to our growth, where we can already see the right trend. For those particular countries, we need to keep investing. Philippines is most likely one of them,” he said. “It’s a growing market for us.”
Both Mr. Neumeier and Mr. Yeo said several sectors in the country are still in need of developing a cybersecurity mindset.
Mr. Yeo cited the industrial and health care sectors as examples, and noted the digitalization of these sectors’ operations poses the impending need for security measures.
“(The systems in these industries) tend to be isolated by themselves previously. But today, they are also beginning to be connected… When the connection happens, there’s a lot of exposure (to cyber threats),” he said.
“In countries like the Philippines, the customers are ‘Okay, I don’t have the budget to invest in that. And so far, nothing happened,’… But tomorrow it could be completely different. So we need to drive this awareness in specific verticals in the Philippines,” Mr. Neumeier added.