Buildings are seen along EDSA in Quezon City, July 3. PHOTO BY MIGUEL DE GUZMAN, The Philippine Star

THE Philippines should focus on developing advanced technology skills instead of mainly being an outsourcing hub, industry experts said on Friday.

“Once we get to that higher level function, you will have a lot of Filipinos that are taking advantage of global opportunities right at home,” said Winston L. Damarillo, president of DevConnect Philippines, Inc., during the DEVCON Pro Summit 2023 press conference.

“We do have the talent,” he said on developing the tech industry of the country. “What we lack is exposure.”

Mr. Damarillo emphasized the creation of more local software and hardware products as a means to elevate tech skills in the Philippines, which would subsequently attract more venture capital.

“I think the formula that gets us there the fastest is just super encouraging freelancing,” he said on the future of Filipino tech talents being utilized in creating solutions over writing code assigned to them.

However, Mr. Damarillo said this will surely create some disruption, given that the Philippine information technology and business process management (IT-BPM) sector is on a steady rise.

The IT-BPM industry is on track to hit its $35.4-billion (P2-trillion) revenue target by yearend, also expecting to add 257,000 full-time workers and $5.9 billion in revenues in the two years until the end of this year, according to the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines.

If the goal is hit, the industry will post an 8.8% annual growth and surpass the global industry growth rate of 7.7%.

“A healthy ecosystem benefits everyone,” Arvin Yason, managing director at IT company Accenture Philippines, said in response to possibly creating its own industry competitors.

“We see the value of uplifting [talents] from just being a developer to actually becoming the product owner and moreover,” he said. “There is global talent [in the Philippines], and it benefits everyone.”

In 2021, Accenture Philippines granted academic institutions P8 million to create and fund startups focusing on local tech areas that needed a boost, such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and applications in the healthcare area, Mr. Yason said.

“Over the past few years, there is a realization that we’ve been a breeding ground for technology talent, not just for our competitors but even for some employees who want to do other things also,” he said.

“There is nothing like success to bring more success,” said Tom Fisher, chief technology officer at American telco company TuVasWifi.

He noted that learning from the successes of the Silicon Valley and using government institutions for proper tax regulations can be used to attract a sustainable tech ecosystem in the Philippines.—Miguel Hanz L. Antivola