Data-Driven Philippines: 2019 PH Data Leaders Summit. held

By Mark Louis F. Ferrolino, Special Features Writer

The pivotal role of digital transformation in realizing the country’s full economic potential is increasingly more evident. Among others, it allows organizations to operate at lower costs, provides better communication for all, improves the quality of life, and brings higher standards for business.

The full adoption of digital transformation, however, is not an easy road to take; it requires the involvement of organization leaders from different sectors, working together in actualizing a data-driven country.

In the Philippines, the journey of achieving such vision is already in progress. Just recently, Cobena Business Analytics & Strategy Inc., together with Analytics Association of the Philippines, and Internet and Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines, organized the Data-Driven Philippines: 2019 PH Data Leaders Summit.

The landmark event gathered around 100 C-suite organization leaders from the different sectors – the government, academe, private enterprises, technology companies, and media – to discuss ways to accelerate the awareness, education, and adoption of data analytics in the country.


Speaking on behalf of the government was Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia, who shared recently enacted key legislations that will provide further impetus for data analytics to gain ground in the country.

Some of them are the Philippine Innovation Act, which seeks to address the current gaps in the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) ecosystem governance framework; and the Philippine Innovative Start-up Act, which will be of great help in the establishment of innovative and technology-based startups in the country.

National Statistician and Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) Head Claire Dennis S. Mapa also shared some of the data analytics initiatives of his office, including the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys), and the Community-Based Monitoring System (CBMS).

The PhilSys is a foundational identification system that aims to provide a valid proof of identity for all citizens and resident aliens as a means of simplifying public and private transactions. The CBMS, on the other hand, is an organized technology-based system of collecting, processing, and validating necessary disaggregated data that monitoring at the local level while empowering communities to participate in the process.

Mr. Pernia believes that the country can garner huge benefits from the adoption of digital technology such as data analytics, which can help organizations efficiently identify problems, solutions, and create new goods and services.

Moreover, Mr. Pernia discussed that data analytics can be applied in different fields, including health, agriculture, business, and government in general. For instance, it can improve patient care and farming methods, make data-driven business decisions, and change the way public goods and services are delivered, he said.

“We in the government recognize our primary role of providing an enabling environment for the private sector so that industries, such as the data analytics industry, can flourish,” Mr. Pernia said.


Similarly, Cobena Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Francis del Val said that digital transformation is crucial to nation-building. Citing the Digital Economy Report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released last September, he shared that countries who least likely to take advantage of digital data and convert them into business opportunities are those countries positioned at the greatest disadvantage.

“It is absolutely clear that digital transformation is going to be critical to nation-building,” Mr. del Val said. In the Philippines, in particular, the impact of such transformation is expected to accelerate even more in the coming years.

Meanwhile, for the government to succeed in its digital transformation journey, Mr. del Val said that it needs the support of the private sector. In fact, based on the 2019 PH Digital Transformation Survey, he shared that the government is the sector most behind in digital transformation journey.

Barriers most cited include lack of resources, lack of adoption guidance, and digital transformation not seen as urgent.

As a whole, Mr. del Val emphasized the importance of data in digital transformation and the need to convert them into information and insights. “With digital transformation, there’s a lot of data. What we need to do is to be able to convert the data to information, and information to insights,” he said.

Moreover, aside from addressing the digital transformation gaps in the country, Mr. del Val said that collaboration among organization leaders from different sectors of the country is needed to make the Philippines a fully data-driven nation.

“It’s not going to be easy and we need to be able to work with an ecosystem. No one company can do it on its own… it got to be multisectoral, it got to be an ecosystem of like-minded individuals who are committed to make it happen,” he said.


Meanwhile, in her talk during the event, Kerry Lau, head of marketing for Acoustic across Asia Pacific and Japan, shared some of the trends on data and artificial intelligence (AI) coming forward in the next few years.

Among others, she said that marketing data director will become the hottest new role; while digital marketing agencies will transform into consulgencies who will be equally adept in creative, strategy and technology. She also said that AI and machine learning will make hyper-personalization a reality.

Moreover, Ms. Lau said that customer centricity will what drive constant transformation in the coming years. “IDC (International Data Corporation) predicted that by 2022, companies focused on customer experiences are predicted to generate 50% of their revenue through contextual discovery,” she shared.

With regards to data privacy, Ms. Lau said that General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will help marketers tighten up data hygiene and build more customer trust. “Data matters. But trust determines its value,” she explained, noting that consumers will more likely trust the organization who will be able to take care of their data.