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Enterprises have to think long-term to drive the digital economy, according to Sudev Bangah, managing director of IDC (International Data Corporation) ASEAN, a market intelligence provider to technology vendors and investors.

“If enterprises are looking long-term, then growth in the digital economy will also be long-term,” said Mr. Bangah in a June 15 media briefing.

Based on IDC’s 2022 Future Enterprise Resiliency Survey, more than half (51.90%) of digital initiatives among ASEAN organizations are tied to enterprise strategy, but with a short-term focus.

“While they talk about resiliency and agility — they are also looking at returns in business today,” he said. “We hope this will change, because this would be the driver into the digital economy.”

In the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation), of which the Philippines is a member, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for over 97% of all businesses, and up to 60% of the share of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of APEC economies.

IT (information technology) spending among ASEAN SMEs is anticipated to grow at a 7.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) through 2025, per IDC. IT spending in the ASEAN, meanwhile, is expected to grow at 6.3% CAGR through 2025.

Mr. Bangah said that 86% of ASEAN SMEs have accelerated their digitalization efforts because of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We find this very encouraging in terms of the digital economy, because they’re an integral cog of it,” he added.

The Philippines aims to improve the country’s readiness in the digital economy through the CHIP (Connect, Harness, Innovate, and Protect) Framework.

CHIP focuses on improving digital infrastructure and connecting; initiating capacity building to upskill Filipinos; undertaking key modernization projects; and mitigating digital risks and threats on cybersecurity and privacy.

According to Mr. Bangah, e-government platforms need to have strong key performance indicators from productivity and user standpoints, such as cutting down applications by three days, or reducing registration time by 70%.

He pointed out that even if a platform has 24 million users, that number doesn’t necessarily translate to how many are trained to use the digital tools.

And while digitalization is a focus in Southeast Asia, he said that governments are still contending with “other problems.”

“In Indonesia and the Philippines, which are huge geographical places that need a lot of infrastructure development, the fundamentals are still being built,” Mr. Bangah said. “Why is the budget for connectivity so low? That’s because the government has other challenges.” — Patricia B. Mirasol