By Joe Zaldarriaga

In this rapidly evolving world, digital transformation has become a crucial key to achieving economic progress, as well as expanded opportunities and service improvements among businesses.

Many countries are taking advantage on the benefits of digital innovations for their own economic development. Our neighboring country Singapore, for instance, even ranked among the top countries with advanced digitalization, driving innovation and building on their existing advantages in efficient and effective ways.

The Philippines aims to follow suit, with no less than President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. advocating digitalization initiatives, including the creation of better data systems for improved government programs, and the push for nationwide digital capacity development and upskilling of Filipinos.

As such, the Private Sector Advisory Council or PSAC has formed a Digital Infrastructure group focused on laying the blueprint for the country’s digitalization and recently launching the GoDigital Pilipinas or GDP movement. This campaign heeds the call of the government to address the risk of a digital divide by promoting digital literacy and building a sustainable digital ecosystem to ensure that no Filipino is left behind in a world of rapid digitalization.

Supporting the GoDigital agenda are private partners willing and able to help promote investments in innovative technologies and strategies. Taking the lead is Metro Pacific Investments Corporation headed by its chairman, president and chief executive officer Manuel V. Pangilinan.

MPIC’s subsidiaries have already embraced the digitalization of their existing operations and innovative initiatives that encapsulate the group’s overall goal to become a leader in sustaining the country’s expanding digital landscape.

Aligned with GDP’s digital upskilling focus area, its telecommunications arm, PLDT Inc., has pioneered efforts in producing industry-ready Filipino graduates through science, technology, engineering and math or STEM specializations. It also introduced the Smart Wireless Engineering Education Program or SWEEP which contributes to the academic and professional journey of partner colleges and universities nationwide through equipment, technical trainings, innovation platforms, immersive experiences, and extension services.

Over 15,000 teachers have been trained in the Central Visayan Institute Foundation Dynamic Learning Program, producing students whose competence in STEM disciplines is comparable to global standards. PLDT, Smart, and its social outreach arm PLDT-Smart Foundation have been supporting the disaster-resilient and innovative teaching strategy since 2010, along with other long-running group-wide initiatives that back the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education.

The Manila Electric Company has embarked on a digital transformation journey with its Customer Centricity Transformation Program and Digital Projects, a holistic and end-to-end approach that aims to improve the company’s customer touchpoints and operations. Meralco recently launched its Operations Platform and Telecommunications Integrated Command Center, a new command and control center which manages all information, communication, and technology systems. The utility also unveiled the Meralco Data Platform that enables the creation of management and operation dashboards and insights crucial for business decision-making.

Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. has implemented electronic toll collection via radio frequency identification (RFID) on all its toll roads nationwide. It also established its foray into the digital space with the MPT DriveHub travel companion app, which offers mobility solutions such as RFID transactions, trip planning, and roadside assistance.

Maynilad introduced its Customer Care QR code that enables access to an electronic form for the concerned business area office for a service application, as well as for handling an inquiry, report, request, or concern.

Light Rail Manila Corporation, the operator of LRT-1, has deployed Beep and Merchant Loading kiosks in all LRT-1 stations. It also utilizes the Automated Train Operations Metrics System that provides operational data for day-to-day tactics and GOAL Systems to optimize the company’s human resources.

Just recently, LRMC partnered with the Airspeed Group of Companies to launch a smart locker system called PopBox which allows people to use the system as a collection point for receiving packages. It also aims to implement a QR-based ticketing system within the year.

Metro Pacific Health, MPIC’s hospital arm, is planning to digitalize its operations by introducing new virtual care platforms and upgrading hospital information systems to create an integrated digital access point that would enable scheduling appointments, virtual triage symptoms, navigating to the right site of care, and access electronic medical records across the network.

mWell, the Philippines’ first fully integrated and fully digital health and wellness platform, is the only healthcare app among the convener organizations and supporting companies in the GDP. mWell provides a seamless end-to-end journey for patients — from booking a video consult or seeing a doctor 24/7, paying for the consultation, to having their medicines delivered to their doorstep. Free e-prescriptions, e-medical certificates, and lab referrals are loaded onto the app after consultation. To empower users to keep track of their personal health records, mWell was the first to provide a digital medical ID, allowing patients to easily access their records stored in mWell’s secure platform.

According to MVP, the role of the private sector is to take the lead in driving the digitalization plans of the country together with the government -- and pouring investments into infrastructure and manpower while espousing digital advancement “will continuously enable us to provide the convenience and accessibility Filipinos deserve.”

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in the foregoing article are solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) or any other office under the Presidential Communications Office.

About the Columnist

Columnist Image

Joe Zaldarriaga is a veteran, award-winning communicator immersed in public service within and beyond the energy sector. He has more than 30 years of experience serving the country’s biggest electric distribution utility and is involved in a number of public service functions, as member of various committees on public safety, power supply security and electrification. Concurrently, he is a prominent figure in the Philippine communications industry, as Chairman and Past President of the US-based International Association of Business Communicators Philippines (IABC PH). He is also an awardee of the University of Manila’s Medallion of Honor (Dr. Mariano V. delos Santos Memorial) and a Scroll of Commendation, a testament to his celebrated years in public service exemplified by outstanding communications.

Joe also shares his opinion and outlook on relevant national and consumer issues as a columnist in several prominent publications and is now venturing into new media via hosting a new vlog called Cup of Joe. Previously, Joe was a reporter and desk editor of a Broadcasting Company and the former auditor of the Defense Press Corps of the Philippines. A true green Lasalian, he finished with a degree in Asian Studies specializing in the Japan Studies program at De La Salle University, Manila, where he also spent his entire education.