Winning together in the fourth industrial revolution

By Bjorn Biel M. BeltranSpecial Features Writer

Professor Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, called it “a time of great promise and great peril.”

The Fourth Industrial Revolution — named for the newest era of world-changing technological progress to come after steam, electric, and informational power — is upon us. This time, the revolution is in the fusion of technologies blurring the lines between physical, digital, and biological spheres.

The potentials are endless. The challenges, myriad. To navigate the new age, industry leaders, policy makers, legislators, and other influential stakeholders must come together to prepare for the coming future or else risk being left behind. Which is why BusinessWorld, the country’s most respected business daily, partnered with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the Philippine Chamber of Telecommunications Operators (PCTO), to hold the BusinessWorld Industry 4.0 Summit last Sept. 9 at Shangri-La at the Fort Manila in Taguig City.

Roby Alampay of BusinessWorld, Enrico Delos Reyes of Philippine Chamber of Telecommunications Operators, Gregorio Honasan of Department of Information and Communications Technology and Miguel G. Belmonte of BusinessWorld — Bening Batuigas

This summit, with the theme “Winning Together in the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” gathered some of the Philippines’ most esteemed public officials, business executives, industry leaders, and a host of leading experts to discuss the effects of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR 4.0), and what the country can do to take advantage of it.

Gregorio B. Honasan II, Secretary of DICT, led the event with an opening address talking about the growing disparity in the world of Industry 4.0 between those who enjoy the benefits of the digital connectivity it provides, and those who cannot.

“The world has changed and will continue to do so in a fast-paced manner,” he said.

“Indeed, fast-paced is an understatement in this hyper-connected, data-driven global economy, data is the new oil or the new gold. However, this is not yet the overall experience in most parts of the country.”

Mr. Honasan stressed the importance of the country’s national ICT agenda to ensure that Filipinos can seize the opportunities of IR 4.0. Lack of connectivity remains an issue, and government initiatives such as the National Broadband network program, Free Wi-Fi for All Public Internet Access Program, and digital portals for more efficient public services can give Filipinos a fighting chance.

“We must work hand in hand not just to generate complete, accurate and timely data for rational decisions at policy levels but also for positive results for the nation and global economy. Industry 4.0 is here, but we’ve got a lot of work to do,” he said.

Anthony Oundjian, managing director and senior partner of the Boston Consulting Group in Southeast Asia, gave the first keynote speech, discussing the nature of IR 4.0; the technologies driving it; and its effects on the economy, business and government.

Mr. Oundjian pointed out that a factory operating in IR 4.0 will be different from those of today through additive manufacturing, advanced robotics, automated replenishment, data-driven quality control, highly responsive customer integration, real-time performance tracking, and digital plant logistics.

“We’ve come a long way from steam power, to electric power, to informational technology and now to digital, cyber, and disruptive technology. What defines the Fourth Industrial Revolution is that innovations are unfolding at breakneck speed,” Senator Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares said in her own keynote speech.

Ms. Poe noted that such speed is something the government sorely lacks, which is why strong leadership and informed legislation should be prioritized if the country is to remain globally competitive.

Lucien Dy Tioco of BusinessWorld — Bening Batuigas

The Philippines, she said, is an analog country in a digital age, slowed down by the bureaucratic red tape that hinders the necessary infrastructure development to bring it completely into the digital age. Legislation such as the Ease of Doing Business Law, the new Public Service Act, and the Freedom of Information Bill can hasten that development, but only through the support of businesses, organizations, and the public.

The keynote talk of Jose Ramon G. Albert, senior research fellow at the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, expanded on this, discussing how the Philippines can prepare for the changes of the digital age through human capital investments.

Building on an analogy by the World Bank, he said that what the government can do to harness innovation is to act as a gardener: prepare the ground for it through education, nurture the soil through research and information, remove the weeds of competition and deregulation that slows growth, and water it by giving innovators financial incentives.

By future-proofing the Filipino people through skills and training investments, Mr. Albert said that those who are unable to keep up with the changing times are also protected.

The summit also tackled the role of the telecommunications sector in IR 4.0 in the first panel discussion, led by panelists John Gonzales, VP and head of Enterprise Digital Solutions at PLDT, Inc.; Emmanuel Estrada, head of Network Strategy at Globe Telecom, Inc.; and Ed Cabarios, deputy commissioner at National Telecommunications Commission.

The second panel discussion explored how the government and the private sector can maximize the benefits of technologies brought by innovation, with panelists Brig. Gen. Eliseo M. Rio, Jr., undersecretary for operations at DICT; Thomas E. Abell, advisor and chief of digital technology for development at Asian Development Bank; Atty. Jeremiah B. Belgica, director-general of Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA); Trina Firmalo-Fabic, mayor of Odiongan, Romblon; and Renato B. Garcia, director of Philippine Chamber of Telecommunications Operators (PCTO).

Meanwhile, opportunities for growth amid IR 4.0 was the third panel discussion’s subject. Mary Jean T. Pacheco, assistant secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry; Ernesto V. Perez, deputy director-general of ARTA; Alegria S. Limjoco, president of PCCI; Rosemarie B. Ong, president of Philippine Retailers Association; and Roy Cecil D. Ibay, vice-president of PCTO, discussed the retail of the future and how operators in the industry today are laying the groundwork for future innovation.

The fourth panel discussion brought into focus the disruption in the banking and finance sector. The panelists were Chuchi G. Fonacier, deputy governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas; Chris Manguera, chief managing officer and head of marketing and app product at Mynt; Kenneth Palacios, head of Wallets Business at PayMaya Philippines; Hamilton Angluben, general manager at Cashalo; and Yu Ming Chin, founder and executive director of Viventis Search Asia.

Afterwards, the changes in the real estate, transportation and manufacturing industries were brought to light, and the fifth panel discussed how they can improve with the help of the technologies driving this revolution. The panelists are Brian Cu, country head of Grab Philippines; Ibarra G. Paulino, executive director of the Philippine Constructors Association; Runel Taningco, head of the infrastructure and communications technology division at the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB); Techie Bautista, vice-president for academic affairs at the Chamber of Real Estate and Builders’ Associations (CREBA); Emmanuel Estrada, network strategy head of Globe Telecom; and Lester Michael Hernandez, head of solutions at AGS Consulting, an ePLDT company.

To conclude the event, critical issues were addressed in the sixth panel discussion, with the theme “Beyond Connectivity and Access” spanning two separate discussions on Cybersecurity Initiative as well as on Content and Piracy.

For cybersecurity initiative, the panelists were Genalyn B. Macalinao, policy lead for Critical Infostructure Evaluation and Cybersecurity Standard Monitoring at DICT; Angel T. Redoble, first vice-president and chief information security officer at PLDT Group, Smart Communications and ePLDT Group; and Anton Bonifacio, chief information security officer at Globe Telecom, Inc.

Louis Boswell, CEO of Asia Video Industry Association delivered a special presentation about “Industry 4.0: Unlocking Opportunities for the Philippine Creative Industry.” “We’re watching more video than we’ve ever done before. And that has led to a golden age of video,” he shared.

For Content and Piracy, panelists were Neil Gane, general manager of Coalition Against Piracy; Anselmo Adriano, chairman of Optical Media Board; and Jill Go, vice-president for content development and partner management at Globe Telecom.

PCTO Chairman Enrico L. Delos Reyes delivered the closing remarks. “Our readiness [for Industry 4.0] depends on our ability and willingness to adapt,” he said.

The BusinessWorld Industry 4.0 Summit gathered top officials from the public and private sectors last Sept. 9 at Shangri-La at The Fort Manila. — Norman Alviar

The BusinessWorld Industry 4.0 Summit is made possible by major sponsors Globe Telecom, PLDT, Smart, and Suntrust Properties, Inc.; minor sponsors Metrobank, HP, Intel, Integrated Computer Systems, Inc.; Entrego, Wilcon Depot, AGS and SAP; partners Consumer Insighting, Synergy, The Philippine Star, One News, Fiera de Manila, and U Rate It.