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Friday, April 19, 2024

‘Mindset shift’ central to bridge digital divide

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Fast-tracking the Philippines’ digital revolution requires not only the adoption of the latest technologies, innovation, and better network infrastructures but more importantly, a sea change in the mindset of enterprises and their people.

Industry experts gathered by PLDT Enterprise in a conference on digital transformation agreed that central to bridging the digital divide is finding the right people that will foster profitable, efficient, and responsible use of artificial intelligence and other cutting-edge technologies to bolster growth of businesses and the broader economy.

“Vision drives transformation. Transformation needs innovation, which we believe continues to center around people, skills, and culture,” said Jojo Gendrano, PLDT and Smart Senior Vice President and Head of Enterprise Business Group. “Technology is nothing without a person’s vision,” added Gendrano as he moderated the plenary session of the Philippine Digital Convention 2023, or PH Digicon 2023, VISION: Reimagine Tomorrow’s Enterprise.

Ragu Masilamany, General Manager and Head of Solutions Engineering at software and services provider Amdocs, said two things are needed in tandem for the success of its digital transformation journey in its business and workforce. “One, the mindset change has to come from a structural, organizational change, including retraining and re-skill,” he noted.

“Two, the tribal knowledge that you take from your very senior people in the organization may not be valid anymore. So, sometimes you have to make the call to leave them behind and go look for the new talent who may not know your business, but they have the right mindset to run the business, so to speak. If you combine them in the right ratio, I think you have a good chance of getting to the end,” Masilamany saiAnup Changaroth, Director of Service Provider Systems Engineering at Cisco, said enterprises need to digitally transform not only to attract new sets of investors but to ensure their future survival. He pointed to a 2017 article in the Harvard Business Review which cited a study by Constellation Research that showed that since 2000, 52 percent of companies in the Fortune 500 have either gone bankrupt, been acquired, or ceased to exist as a result of digital disruption.

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“They didn’t digitally transform themselves. Understanding digital transformation and the enabler, which is the cloud, should be a fundamental part of the business strategy,” Changaroth said.

While the rate of digital transformation has accelerated because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Raghav Sahgal, President of Nokia’s Cloud and Network Services, said the level of enterprises’ digitalization at 30 percent leaves much to be desired. Sahgal mentioned that the development of an ecosystem of devices, applications, and networks will have to come together to bridge the gap.

“Our vision is very, very clear. We see a huge potential that the digitization of industries as the next frontier,” he said. “And artificial intelligence, or AI, will help move the process faster, especially with the advancement in the computing capability.”

“What is interesting in AI is that it has tremendous possibilities. One of the greatest things about AI, if the adoption level is very high, it will change our lives in many ways,” said Sahgal. “But AI and generative AI, like other technologies, have their challenges and the key to harnessing their potential is using them responsibly,” he added.

“I don’t think we could leave it all to AI…we need human augmentation to make sure that we actually, for critical decisions, are part of the process as we go forward,” said Sahgal. “I would urge everyone to embrace responsible AI, to drive significant productivity and innovation gains.”

Brandon Wu, Huawei’s Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of the Enterprise Group in Asia-Pacific, said to make enterprise usage of AI more pervasive, the industry must work together to bring down the cost of computing. “AI computing is a luxury at this stage…. Computer resources are not easily accessible to enterprises,” Wu said. “We have to get all these resources accessible and cost effective so we can unlock these potentials,” he said.

Wu said the industry will also have to take a closer look at the current architecture of computing and reshaping it. “CPU-based architecture is no longer valid for this kind of purpose,” said Wu, “There are models that need to be adopted for enterprise. We have to lower barriers for every single enterprise to leverage these innovations.”

Another driver of enterprises’ digital transformation, Gendrano said, is 5G connectivity. “The appreciation of 5G has largely been consumer focused but most believe, myself included, the value can be better derived from enterprise use cases,” he said.

“What is important is to not find a problem for the solution. But to really focus on the business needs and the intersection of finding a way to improve customer experience, reduce cost potentially will lead its way to 5G and other wonderful applications enabled by AI and cloud,” Gendrano said.

Sahgal said Nokia has broken 5G into three metaverses — the consumer metaverse that involves gaming and virtual reality; the enterprise IT metaverse where use cases such as collaboration capabilities will bring value; and the industrial metaverse that includes airports, mining, transportation where use cases like digital twins will create value in the digitalization journey.

He said the main question for 5G is how to monetize it. “Nobody is paying more for 5G in the US consumer metaverse,” he noted. “Applicability to the industrial metaverse is a good starting point for using 5G to enable mission-critical applications to drive monetization, and eventually when device prices become more affordable, the consumer metaverse will scale.

Sahgal said as enterprises and industries navigate the digital transformation process, we need to focus on bringing connectivity, applications, and devices together as an ecosystem.

PH Digicon 2023: VISION is powered by Amdocs, Cisco, Huawei Technologies Phils. Inc., Nokia, Google Cloud, Samsung, ZTE Corporation, Avolution Inc., Fortinet, Soprano Design, CSG, Dell Technologies Philippines, Ericsson Telecommunications, Inc., and Maya Philippines, Inc.

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