By Bjorn Biel M. Beltran, Special Features Writer
AS THE WORLD continues to face disruption due to the dogged pace of innovation and technology, uncertainty has become the only certain thing in business. Longstanding institutions like the retail and hospitality industries are being transplanted by tech giants like Amazon and AirBnB, while industries such as media are struggling to adapt in an era of hyper-connectivity and information.
Yet, despite the turbulent landscape, BusinessWorld, the Philippines’ oldest business newspaper founded on July 27, 1987 by the late respected journalist Raul L. Locsin, has further cemented its position as the most trusted source of news, analysis, and insights by the country’s business community.
The newspaper has mostly achieved this by holding true to its purpose of serving its readers with reliable, accurate coverage of the news and issues relevant to the Philippine business landscape.
Miguel G. Belmonte, president and chief executive officer of BusinessWorld, said in an interview that the company made certain key adjustments to its business model to secure its development in this new environment. Much of how the newspaper delivered its reportage, however, remains the same.
“We have very high respect for our editorial team. We did not put any or much effort there or make changes in that department. But we realized, with all the challenges the newspaper and the publishing industry has been facing lately, for the past two years, that we really have to make some changes to our approach or strategy when it comes to advertising,” Mr. Belmonte said.
Since assuming control of the company, media conglomerate Mediaquest Holdings, Inc. issued a number of personnel and leadership changes aimed at ensuring BusinessWorld’s future. Such changes have been largely successful, with the past three years of the paper’s circulation showing positive profits.
“I think that’s one of the biggest accomplishments that we’ve managed here in BusinessWorld since joining the company. But the paper itself, the product itself still continues to be what I believe what it was already when we joined the company. So we’re just continuing its tradition and legacy [of integrity and excellence],” Mr. Belmonte added.
Through the expansion of its online component, www.bworldonline.com, and the launch of SparkUp, a platform catered towards startups and young entrepreneurs, BusinessWorld is also building on that legacy by delivering its signature brand of news and insight to new audiences.
Offering a new way to get insights from experts and to connect with the Philippine startup community, BusinessWorld aims to reach out to the generation shaped by the digital era through relevant targeted content in a multimedia platform designed for the next generation of businessmen.
Perhaps the most successful of the company’s new initiatives, however, is its introduction of the BusinessWorld Economic Forum, which is held annually since 2016.
“When we launched our Economic Forum three years ago, it has placed BusinessWorld at the forefront of the business community,” BusinessWorld Executive Vice-President Lucien C. Dy Tioco said in an interview.
Mr. Dy Tioco said that as emerging technology such as artificial intelligence, automation, blockchain, and the like continue to disrupt and transform the global landscape, there is a notable lack of authority with regards to how businesses should proceed into the future.
Digital transformation, he said, brought about a tidal wave that left everyone gasping for breath. Even before anyone could recover and find solid ground, a new wave of change comes in and sweeps them away again. A reputable, trustworthy voice is needed to serve as the buoy from which companies could get their bearings.
“Everyone is busy undergoing digital transformation. Everyone is still studying and trying to embrace what and how things have changed. And it’s not an easy route, going from how you were, from a traditional business to a digital one while trying to understand a digital audience. It’s like going back to the drawing board,” Mr. Dy Tioco said.
“Everyone is really on the learning curve, especially in the business community. The Economic Forum enables BusinessWorld to be at the forefront of that curve, because we come from a credible standpoint. So organizing events like this solidifies our status as a reliable business source, and increases our relevance in the changing landscape,” he added.
On its fourth year, the BusinessWorld Economic Forum has become the country’s most anticipated event for gathering thought leaders, industry experts, business executives, government policymakers, innovators, academicians, technology providers and more to discuss the myriad realities and concerns that are transforming the landscape of Philippine business. This year, more than 700 participants came together to explore the theme, “The Future of Business: Next-Wave Disruptions & Opportunities”, highlighting the promises and dangers of technology and how these will impact businesses over the next 10 years.
BusinessWorld has also expanded the reach of its conferences and fora by tackling important and timely topics through the BusinessWorld Cybersecurity Forum, the BusinessWorld Stock Market Roundtable, and the upcoming BusinessWorld Industry 4.0 Summit.
“That will be the thrust of BusinessWorld. In terms of trying to help the business community and the economy, how to ensure that in the next 10 years, as the newer technologies come in, we’ll do our best to equip everyone with all the relevant knowledge: about the newer technologies, the impact of these technologies, how it’s going to affect our daily lives, and how it’s really going to change how we do business,” Mr. Dy Tioco said.
Such initiatives serve only to strengthen the legacy of what BusinessWorld has built throughout its 32-year history. Since its foundation in 1987, BusinessWorld has clung to its tenets of integrity and quality in all its content. It is through those same pillars that the company aims to move forward into the future.
As the world continues to evolve into the digital age and people all over the globe are awash in a deluge of information, quality reporting only becomes more valuable. Roby A. Alampay, BusinessWorld’s editor-in-chief, once said in an interview that it is the job of the news industry to give the people the tools to analyze information and to help them understand their place, especially in today’s changing world.
In an age where Filipinos have become reliant on social media websites like Facebook and Twitter to get their news, newspapers have become secondary. As primary sources such as government websites and official proclamations are easily accessible, publications in the news industry must find new ways of providing value to their readers.
Mr. Alampay believes that in essence, the needs of BusinessWorld’s readers have not changed with the times. Despite the sweeping changes to how readers get their news, he said, the value of understanding business, economics, and even politics, has not faded away.
“[The changing times] force the news business to go more into analysis, to go more into understanding the bigger picture, to try and paint a bigger image for everyone,” he said.
“Facilitating more engagement between the audience, and the sources, and the news organization itself. That’s what’s changing all of us.”
Even with the introduction of events like the BusinessWorld Economic Forum, and the expansion of BusinessWorld’s online presence through its website and SparkUp, facing the future remains undoubtedly a challenging prospect. But it is a challenge that the company will gladly face.
“The challenge makes us excited, I always say,” Mr. Belmonte said. “The challenge is one of the things that makes our blood circulate. And otherwise, the job would be quite boring.”