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IDC Futurescapes 2017: A glimpse into the future

By Lionell Go Macahilig - 23 Feb 2017

A more strategic ICT push from the government

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A more strategic ICT push from the government

By 2021, the Philippine government will have a more strategic ICT push. Looking back at 2016, technology adoption of Philippine organizations has seen good traction. Measuring the government’s performance in terms of ICT growth and development, our country ranked 71st out of 150 countries in the 2016 UN e-government survey, a 24-point improvement compared to our 95th ranking back in 2014. We also ranked at the 99th spot in the World Bank’s doing business study where streamlined business processes through online and electronics systems are used as the primary drivers for our ranking.

The government’s Juan Connect initiative, which was completed during the latter part of 2016, provided Internet access to more than 12,000 public places as well as 1,600 cities and municipalities across the country, although the 512kbps connection speed needs much improvement. But perhaps, the biggest and most significant ICT-connected development that the government did is the establishment of the Department of ICT (DICT), the primary policy, planning, coordinating, implementing, and administrative entity that develops the national ICT development agenda. The inception of DICT is a good sign of the government’s recognition of ICT’s importance in nation building and it is taking a leading role in bringing its citizens to the digital age. IDC believes that it is high time for our government to take a more cohesive and definite ICT direction, and through a dedicated ICT agency, we can finally catch up with other digital economies such as our ASEAN neighbors like Singapore or even beyond Asia.

With the DICT, the government is working on initiatives such as the national broadband plan (still pending at the moment), the national cybersecurity strategy, and the launch of the national government portal. These initiatives are big steps toward a right direction and IDC is expecting that for the next two years or more, such measures will be launched, strengthening our country’s ICT core and enabling Philippine organizations to adopt technologies that are not feasible in the current framework such as smart cars and cognitive AI.

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In spite of the government’s clearer ICT path, IDC is seeing roadblocks in terms of ICT growth in the country. First will be our country’s digital divide and inadequate digital infrastructures. These problems are really quite obvious, but these are also the hardest to resolve. For instance, our digital divide is actually the result of economic gap and poor technological maturity of our citizens. Meanwhile, exhaustive red tape and other bureaucratic obstacles hinder the construction of adequate infrastructures in the country. We are among those who have the lowest cell site density in the ASEAN region. Resolving these issues will involve policy changes, organizational restructuring, and solid partnerships.

Assuming that all of the necessary groundwork and framework are accomplished, so what’s next with the Philippines? IDC is predicting the rise of the Philippines 5.0 or the further push for smart city initiative. In 2016, the research firm saw a very little smart city initiative across the country, with the most notable ones are the Clark Green City program and Project Noah which won IDC’s 2016 Asia-Pacific awards for public safety. Beyond 2021 or once the country’s ICT core solidifies, we’ll see the drive for smart city programs intensifying, ushering in the new era of Philippines 5.0. With all of the digital technologies fully established, the national government can compel local government units (LGUs) to take advantage of these technologies in resolving their respective problems.