TODAY, there are at least 3.6 billion Internet users in the world and more than 54 million are located in the archipelagic Philippines. In fact, Filipinos are the world’s top Internet and social media users. On average, Filipinos spend 6.3 hours a day online via laptop and 3.3 hours a day via mobile compared to the global average of 4.4 hours a day and 2.7 hours a day respectively in 2015.

On top of that, the Philippines is also the fastest growing smartphone market in Southeast Asia. To feed the country’s increasing demand for Internet connection, the government has launched ongoing initiatives over the years to boost the infrastructure. The country’s hunger for digital content presents great market potential for online businesses — such as gaming, shopping and banking.

A woman checks her mobile phone while working on her laptop. — BW file photo

While Philippines’ connectivity infrastructure is in its infancy, the country’s connectivity has shown steady improvements over the years. Akamai’s Q2 2016 State of the Internet — Connectivity report showed that the average connection speed increased 24% from the first quarter.

To continue the momentum in improving the country’s connectivity, the government has introduced ongoing initiatives for faster Internet speeds in the coming years. The country’s lead agency on ICT-related matters, Department of Science and Technology — Information and Communications Technology Office (DoST-ICTO), is driving necessary developments in the ICT policy and infrastructure including Smart City initiatives and cyber security. Additionally, the two dominant network service providers in the country are working on enhancing and expanding their mobile Internet services and coverage.

Given the steady improvement of connectivity, and a strong demand for digital content and mobile usage, the Internet presents great potential for businesses to move online and flourish. However, moving online also means heavier reliance on delivering content and data through the Internet to end-users, and businesses need to overcome new challenges that come with providing a fast, secure and seamless experience for their users.

Here are three tips to stand out from others riding the online wave:

    • Highly distributed architecture for optimum Web traffic delivery

Users in the digital era expect highly available and on-demand access to content and information. It is mission-critical for businesses to accelerate Web pages to load as quickly as possible, on any device, anywhere. Even a fraction of a second matters. Did you know that 47% of shoppers expect Web sites to load in 2 seconds? Select cloud-based application delivery platforms that are built on a highly distributed network architecture and powered by intelligent traffic routing software. The highly distributed positioning of servers enables the software to leverage both geographic and network proximity to end-users to effectively route traffic. Thus, this ensures consistent high-performance and low-latency Internet traffic routes even in times of outages, errors, or congestion for optimized, seamless and speedy delivery of online content.

    • Scalability and real-time intelligence is key

Being able to provide consumers with high-quality and engaging product images are crucial. Image-heavy sites with interactive elements are key to grasping attention, creating a deep impression which in turn leads to increased chances of conversions. Images are necessary for any online business but creating and maintaining a repository of images for an entire catalogue of products suitable for devices of all sizes can take a real toll on the site.

Consider a solution that is designed for flexible integration with existing storage and publishing workflow environments. By using a real-time algorithm to analyze each image and apply a precise level of compression, businesses can deliver the richest, fastest and best-suited images for each end-user and device.

    • Building and maintaining cyber resilience

The Web security threat environment is constantly evolving and attack methods are growing in sophistication and in size with each passing attack. These attacks aim at taking the Web site down, risking downtime, data breach or Web site defacement which ultimately impacts the brand’s reputation. Businesses reported that Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks cost them an average of $1.5 million annually. The threat is real and in the fight against cyber-attacks, taking on a proactive, multi-layer defense is no longer a choice, but a necessity. Such approach entails

  • Active maintenance for up-to-date web applications configuration and network systems to prevent cyber-attackers from penetrating organization’s assets;
  • Interactive monitoring, early detection and faster threat mitigation to minimize cyber-attack’s impact;
  • Round-the-clock security experts to customize and fine-tune adjustments in configuration rules in almost real-time to optimize defense and protection against the latest threat vectors.

As the Philippines’ Internet infrastructure continues to mature, 2017 promises to be an interesting and exciting year for organizations in the virtual space — online retailers, financial institutions, e-gaming companies, public sector organizations and more. User experience remains key to creating loyal customers and supporters, it is pertinent that businesses work with a partner who can help them navigate the fast-evolving landscape and provide advanced solutions to stay ahead of the game.

Gerald Penaflor is the country manager of Akamai Technologies in the Philippines.