Innovation Council to propel ICT sector to greater heights

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09:25 PM March 16th, 2017

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By: Victor Anthony V. Silva, March 16th, 2017 09:25 PM
– Melanie Ng, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president

– Melanie Ng, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president

New business organization to focus on sustaining industry’s growth

Cebu’s growing Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry is expected to scale “ greater heights” with the creation of a business organization focusing on sustaining the sector’s growth.

The Innovation Council of Cebu (ICC), a brainchild of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), is tasked to make this happen.

“Our idea was to gather all ICT players together, considering (that) the industry is an economic driver here, in order to create a support ecosystem that will enable them to go and grow,” Melanie Ng, CCCI president, told Cebu Daily News in a phone interview yesterday.

Cebu’s IT-business process outsourcing sector alone employs 150,000 worker and forms part of an industry believed to have contributed $26 billion to the country’s economy in 2016.

The business leader, however, explained that ICT is not just BPO, but it is made up of different sub-sectors, bringing up the need for more focused and specific ways to address problems faced by the industry.

Ng announced the organization of the ICC on her Facebook page on Thursday, revealing that Mark Cubos of Performance 360 was unanimously elected as president of the group the day before.

The thrust of the ICC, Ng said, was in line with the theme of Asean 50, which places an emphasis on an innovative and inclusive economy.

Around 20 local ICT players, representing different industry sub-sectors, formed the ICC’s executive board.

Among the sub-sectors initially identified by the ICC to focus on are business process outsourcing, software developers, digital marketers, tech startups, cyber security, multimedia, IT-enabled services, e-commerce, and makers.

“Champions were identified to represent each sub-sector so the needs and concerns of that particular segment will be properly addressed by the council,” said Ng.

The CCCI, DTI (Department of Trade and Industry), and ICT stakeholders in Cebu had met over the last few months for focus group discussions and meetings, eventually leading to the creation of the ICC on Wednesday this week.

Ng said that the chamber’s initiative, with the help of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), would be to support the growth of micro, small, and medium-scale players in the industry.

Digital strategies

CCCI and DTI have been advocating the use of digital strategies to help MSMEs in Cebu grow, seeing potential in the growth of this segment since it makes up 99.6 percent of all registered businesses in the country.

Ng said that they would also be tapping the Cebu Educational Development Foundation for Information Technology (CEDF-IT) to reach out to big BPO companies in Cebu.

ICC officers will be inducted in June, in time for CCCI’s celebration of Cebu Business Month 2017, said Ng.

Digital summit

The newly formed group will also help organize CCCI’s Digital Transformation Summit in the same month.

Wilfredo Sa-a Jr., CEDF-IT managing director, said the initiative would be good for Cebu since there is a need to develop homegrown industries that would take advantage of technology and innovation.

He said that from these companies might come the next Facebook, Apple, or Google.

“We have the talent here. They just need to be supported, guided, and mentored to be more globally competitive,” said Sa-a.

Ma. Elena Arbon, DTI Cebu Provincial Director, for her part, said that this is an excellent move by CCCI.

“Because there are different types of innovation, this should be a multi-sectoral concern. It is also something that would help us go up the competitiveness ladder,” she said.

Arbon, who was only assigned to Cebu in 2016, is known to be a champion of MSMEs and digital startups.

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