By Jocelle Batapa-Sigue
Submitted for the Design Thinking For Innovation Course
University of Virginia
Darden School of Business
July 8, 2019
- CHALLENGE: Information and communications technology (ICT) have transformed economies all over the world. As early as the seventies, the Philippines business ecosystems road the wave of opportunities that came with the ICT. Government pave the way for stronger telecommunications infrastructure by dismantling the long – standing monopoly and opened the telecommunications industry to other players. ICT allowed businesses to transcend locational challenges such as need for innovation, high cost of labor and utilities, lack of quality or available workforce, political and social risks and many other challenges. ICT allowed companies to avail of services and products outside of its business structure, commonly known as outsourcing, and today most comprehensively referred to as global services.
As the Philippines moved further in creating jobs and opportunities in the ICT industry, the pattern became apparent – that these investments were only concentrated in the metropolis, particularly in Metro Manila, and not in the outlying provinces of the country.
The challenge for me along with all the stakeholders in different cities is to improve the socio-economic conditions of the countryside where unemployment rate is very high, taking advantage of the growing number of jobs in the ICT industry. These issues have not been effectively addressed since the Philippines undertook an aggressive campaign to attract foreign investors in the ICT industry since 2004, yet stakeholders in the countryside, mainly cities outside of Metro Manila began to develop strategies to attract foreign investments.
ICT investment promotions had been concentrated in metropolitan cities, and leaving the countryside to piece-meal strategies that do not consistently give them sustainable programs to conduct foreign trade mission and investment promotions. Selected cities, from time to time, are invited to join trade mission but on a case-to-case basis. No concerted efforts have been devoted to developing countryside investment packages design to attract foreign investors to locate outside of Metropolitan cities.
Seventy percent of the Filipino populace reside outside of Metro Manila hence the need to address the challenge of for attracting jobs and investments in the countryside.
- SELECTION: To address the challenge of creating jobs and investments in the countryside, I had to gather all the stakeholders to make it happen. I used visualization as tool to create a platform for the vision to be achieved.
There has to be a set of key drivers to push the vision to reality and stakeholders must visualize their respective roles in the whole picture.
As a first step, various stakeholders were gathered based on their respective mandates to understand the general ICT roadmap of the Philippines which details the vision and initiatives needed in order to achieve these goals.
I started with one city, my own city – Bacolod, located in the Province of Negros Occidental, Western Visayas Region. Upon my initiative as local leader, stakeholders were able to come together in several sessions creating and sharing ideas to address the needs in order to scale up Bacolod as an investment hub.
Eventually, the stakeholders designed the ICT Council as a platform to be a collective effort of the academe and human resource development, real estate and business and local governments to undertake projects and programs complementary to the vision of making Bacolod City and Negros Occidental as viable locations for ICT and business process outsourcing (BPO) services. It assisted local government units and the national government especially in designing programs that will complement the educational system and integrate ICT therein to produce a more competent and job-ready workforce.
It aims to establish and institutionalize a strong network and various linkages with all academic, formal and non-formal, technical and vocational training institutions in Bacolod and Negros Occidental in order to formulate, consolidate and implements strategies and programs that will address the challenges and gaps identified in the ICT sector.
The ICT Council also regularly helps to develop a comprehensive plan on a provincial basis in order to yield a more accurate picture of the workforce and a rationalized program of infrastructure and human resource build-up based on strengths, encourage synergy among the sectors involved in developing government support, business environment and talent development, in order avoid duplication of efforts, minimize competition among local government units, and maximize resources to better prepare the province and the region to become competitive globally.
As a result, Bacolod was named as one of the Centers of Excellence in ICT in the country, and more than 30,000 new jobs were created for Bacolod and Negros Occidental. Today, there is an estimated 30,000 direct IT-BPM jobs in Bacolod. The ICT Council of Bacolod today has become a role model for other cities, and has been instrumental in inspiring and helping various cities and provinces in the Philippines to create their ICT councils or to strengthen their existing councils by encouraging the adoption four-fold underlying principles:
- Government is a catalyst of all stakeholders and must initiate and encourage all key sectors to set and join in pursuing a direction
- The private sector must actively support the government by providing resources to improve the business ecosystem, provide the real estate and telecommunications infrastructure.
- The academe must continuously link with the industry to ensure relevant education
- All three sectors must work together to pursue competitiveness and readiness in ICT using the multi-stakeholder approach and has embraced the principle of collaboration among the local government and national government agencies with the academe and industry.
The ICT Council model is now recognized in various fora as an organizational model that brings together movers and key decision makers from the public or government sector (local or national line agencies), academe and human resource, and private or business and industry sector. The idea is to provide a platform to set directions to position their respective communities as strategic locations for ICT-enabled jobs and investments
- APPLICATION: To create the ICT council, stakeholders were gathered to create a common vision, identify challenges and weaknesses, discover and understand weaknesses and potentials and eventually develop strategies to answer the weaknesses.
First, the stakeholders are made to understand their roles and mandates as individuals belonging to various institutions, understanding the core values of their organizations as well as their limitations. Then the stakeholders are requested to identify and extract their common vision for their cities through interaction.
The three major stakeholders were identified as government, academe and private sector, each playing a specific role to complement the vision. The role of the government was to catalyze the stakeholders and bring them together, provide for enabling policies and resources and set the direction. The role of the academe is to ensure quantity, quality and scalability of talent supply. The role of the private sector is to provide capital, economic guidance and impetus to the efforts of the two other sectors by creating business models, jobs and opportunities aligned with the ICT sector.
Using the diagrams, the stakeholders identified six key thrusts to focus on based on the general roadmap.
- INSIGHT: The stakeholders, by visualizing their goal through the use of interaction, discussion, posting in the board colored notes in the board for everyone to see how all the pieces fall into place, have collated the bigger picture. Using diagrams and matrix, with the aid colored sticky notes, the stakeholders grouped together according to their sector and discussed the strategies. The groups discussed the baseline data – “what is” what is the current situation, the existing policies and resources, in order to develop relevant and responsive strategies. They eventually tackled “what if” to develop the vision and direction, such as number of jobs attainable. Then moved to programs that are new and innovative, in response to the question “what wows”. After a series of meetings, the groups developed their vision, goals, objectives and strategies based on major areas such as talent development, business environment, cost and infrastructure and digital innovation.
Eventually, the stakeholders realized that the ICT council model can serve as a platform for collaboration to achieve a common goal, a venue to share best practices for ideation and replication, a driver for innovation, a medium for collective expression to achieve results and a tool to empower stakeholders
Stakeholders saw the need to make the ICT council a platform for collaboration to achieve a common goal among government, education, industry, private and business sector. They identified the need to be open, friendly, innovative, aggressive, dynamic, risk-taking in their approaches to achieve the vision. For example, the key decision makers arrived at a conclusion that there needs to be a roadmap every 3 to 6 years for the ICT Council to push and manage.
Academe, human resource and talent development stakeholders were inspired to be more innovative, inclusive and collaborative in their educational approaches to facilitate industry – academe collaboration. Local government became more supportive, innovative, catalyst, pro-active, goal-oriented, and people-centric. The national government agencies which had presence in the city embraced their role as target-setting, accessible, guiding and supportive along with the local media, to drive awareness.
As a tool to empower stakeholders, the ICT Council developed programs to empower and train ICT council members and equip different sectors needing digital skills to qualify for ICT jobs. The ICT Council helped the city government harness public resources for greater use such as in job generation, investment promotions and conduct orientation of different stakeholders to understand their roles
The stakeholders were able to identify the basic criteria for a city to generate ICT jobs and opportunities. These are talent (quantity, quality, scalability), business environment and risk management (natural, political, social risks), infrastructure and telecommunications, cost of doing business to include tax incentives, non-fiscal incentives that translate to savings on business cost and digital innovation.
The ICT Council has become a venue to share best practices for ideation and replication especially for talent development strategies, startup incubators and shared service facilities, resource mobilization, benchmarking activities and learning conferences.
As a driver for innovation, the ICT Council identified the need to help public sector implement eGovernance, new technologies and new skills (ai, data analytics, IOT, cybersecurity), hybrid or shared service facilities, and new business models (homegrown companies or startups, shared service facilities, incubators).
As medium for collective expression to achieve results, the ICT Council came up with unified position on need to grant tax incentives, improve connectivity, and grant more scholarships for ICT. The ICT Council leveraged on collaboration to access more support, equipment and facilities. It also helped and assisted investors and entrepreneurs by championing their concerns and set avenues to air out collective stand on various issues such as peace and order situation, lack of trainings and many others.
- APPROACH: For other sessions in developing the ICT Council model for other cities, new insights on new technologies can be shared through effective storytelling as a tool in design thinking to ensure more stakeholders’ engagement and involvement. Stories of successes of other ICT councils can inspire stakeholders of other cities to develop their own. Another way to scale up participation and reduce the period of time to come up with strategies is learning launch, to provide a platform for ICT councils to experiment new ideas such creating incubators for startups.
In future sessions, stakeholders need more input to develop strategies and hence it is important that the presence of other stakeholders who hold the necessary data for validation must be obtained.