Digital transformation is an overall philosophy not a linear path

If you attend any business or tech conference in the Philippines, the most common rallying cry in speaker presentations will almost certainly be “digital transformation.” That is, businesses need to undergo digital transformation or risk getting left behind among their tech and tech-enabled peers.

It’s survival-of-the-fittest in business-speak.

It was first introduced by serial entrepreneur and business strategist Winston Damarillo in 2016 in his first business book, Ready or Not.

While business leaders all want to be at the helm of agile, innovative organizations, the execution of this vision is no easy feat, in part because there are no hard-and-fast rules on digital transformation. What may work for one company re-inventing itself in the digital space may not work for another, and vice-versa.

Each company’s digital transformation, in short, will be unique to itself.

And now, years after the book’s publication, more companies in the Philippines, both big and small, have embraced this challenge as they undergo transformations both in their operations and in their branding.

This new reality is what Damarillo has discussed in the sequel to his best-selling book, now entitled Ready or Not 2020: The 5 Trends Changing the Landscape of Business. 

I picked up the sequel as I saw how companies, especially tech startups in the Philippines, have taken part in this “digital transformation” and how they have succeeded and at times, struggled in this journey. 

The horizontal impact of the latest tech trends 

It’s important to note that Damarillo writes not from the perspective of a writer or even analyst, but from that of a practitioner through-and-through. He has built and scaled multiple tech companies, including three exits, Gluecode (to Intel), Logicblaze (to Iona Technologies) and Webtide (to Intalio).

In Ready or Not 2020, the five trends he documents are e-commerce, the digitization of cash, biometrics, artificial intelligence, and blockchain.

What’s important is that each of these topics is not addressed as a niche phenomenon. Rather than focus on how one hot startup is tackling some fringe part of AI, for example, he discussed how each trend cuts horizontally across all businesses and may affect you no matter what industry you’re in.

In the Biometrics chapter, Damarillo says that biometrics is no longer the stuff of science fiction, a la Tom Cruise’s Minority Report. He details how biometrics of all types – voice recognition, fingerprint recognition, or retinal scanning – are being used by enterprises to identify, authenticate, and protect their customers.

UnionBank, for instance, allows customers to sign into their mobile app with their faces.

The net impact of such biometrics is enhanced user experience: Customers get to use products with greater convenience, security, and trust. Forward-thinking businesses, from those the size of UnionBank all the way down to your neighborhood MSMEs, can also turn to biometrics to simplify the user journey of their customers.

It’s easy to cast predictions (tech pundits, after all, do it nearly every day) but what’s considerably more difficult is explaining how technology trends will impact your business now, and how business leaders may possibly seize these opportunities for their benefit.

The same applies to the other four trends. Damarillo shows how AI, e-commerce, blockchain, and the digitization of cash are and will continue to impact all enterprises in the Philippines, even though many of these topics may at least initially seem far removed from their own business reality.

From this vantage, the book is quite the eye-opener: You come to realize that the buzzwords in headlines can spell the downfall – or hyper-growth – of your company. The onus is on you to determine which. 

Note however that the book, for the most part, just touches on the surface level of these technologies. While it tries to explain each technology in much detail, it’s only an entry point, rather than a thorough narrative of the Philippine businesses’ digital transformation. 

In addition to drawing on his own experiences as the founder of inclusion tech venture builder Talino Venture Labs and Amihan Global Strategies, which is a tech enabler for large enterprises and organizations serving mass markets and constituencies, Damarillo documents how local companies are addressing their own particular challenges in re-inventing themselves. 

It becomes easier to think of how you might lead your own company’s digital transformation when you see how other local companies have done the same, bearing in mind the same constraints you have in the Philippine business climate.

If anything, the reader will only be further enticed to read on how else each technology has grown and flourished in different parts of the world.

As the Philippines could be considered as a young, emerging market, technological advancements and their adoption could also just be in their nascent stages. Ready or Not 2020, then is an exciting invitation, a daring challenge to what’s to come for the next decade.

Author: ellard capiral

Ellard is the Founder and CEO of AdMov Philippines. He is passionate with technology and startups. Always on the look-out for ways to change the world.