TechIsland 3.0: Empowering businesses in the digital age

TECHISLAND 3.0. Mitch Locsin, Alfredo Tan, Merlee Jayme, Laurence Cua, and Eric Alberto share the stage. Photos by Jason Tulio/Rappler

TECHISLAND 3.0. Mitch Locsin, Alfredo Tan, Merlee Jayme, Laurence Cua, and Eric Alberto share the stage.

Photos by Jason Tulio/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – On April 22, PLDT Smart SME Nation hosted its 3rd annual business convention for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay City.

TechIsland aims to educate, enable, and empower Filipino MSMEs to solve real life business challenges with the help of technology. The whole-day event focused on showing Filipino MSMEs how harnessing digital tools and platforms can help them conquer new territories and markets in today's dynamic business landscape.

This year, the forum was focused on empowering MSMEs to overcome challenges, embrace change, and conquer opportunities. 

VP and Head of PLDT Smart SME Nation Mitch Locsin said: "We've already established that digital is here and it's here to stay. Now that everyone is on it, it's time to challenge the standard business mindset and give our MSMEs a new perspective in managing their businesses, capturing and expanding their markets, and handling competition." 

The game changers

During the first part of the session, participants gathered in a plenary session led by CEOs and business leaders who shared stories on adapting to changing technology and how important it is to chase opportunities to reach out to more people. 

PLDT Executive Vice President, Head of Enterprise International Carrier and Businesses, and ePLDT CEO Eric R. Alberto opened the plenary session by recognizing the contributions of MSMEs to the local business landscape.

"[MSME owners] are bossings whose collective hard work and passion brought forth value and success not only to your respective enterprise stakeholders, but also to this nation's overall economic wellbeing," Alberto said. 

DENTSU JaymeSyfu's "charimom" and chief executive Merlee Jayme tackled why "heart sell" still works in the digital age. She showcased past advertising campaigns that strike a balance between touching one's emotions while still fulfilling the brand's marketing obejctive.

"Genuine social media is more powerful than paid media," Jayme said. She encouraged marketers to let the brand's purpose inspire the digital executions. 

HEART SELL. Advertising guru Merlee Jayme discusses the importance of consumer engagement

HEART SELL.

Advertising guru Merlee Jayme discusses the importance of consumer engagement

PLDT Chief Strategy Officer and CEO of TALAS Winston Damarillo also shared tips on how business can go digital through specifically-designed business solution for MSMEs. He led the launch of TALAS onstage, which is the PLDT Group's new Big Data arm.

"We started the strategy of TALAS in PLDT to democratize the access for as many Filipinos as possible to the digital economy," Damarillo said. 

Laurence Cua, Country Manager of Uber Philippines, showed how a simple app took the world by storm. He shared how real-life application of digital technology has affected millions around the world.

Locally, Uber's goal is to help ease the traffic problem that is currently costing the country around P2.4 billion a day. Cua said: "We like to solve hard problems at Uber. We believe that we can solve these problems through technology." 

The last speaker for the plenary session was Alfredo Tan, Facebook Canada Group Director of Global Marketing Solutions and Facebook Philippines Interim Country Director. Aside from discussing trends that may help businesses, he also talked about how digital disruption has affected businesses worldwide.

"When the first high-deginition images of Pluto were shared," Tan explained. "NASA didn't decide to share this on CNN.com or on television. They actually shared it on a platform called Instagram."

New challenges, new beginnings

BREAKOUT SESSION. Lito Villanueva of FINTECH leads a breakout session for traders

BREAKOUT SESSION.

Lito Villanueva of FINTECH leads a breakout session for traders

TechIsland also featured breakout sessions divided into 4 categories designed to target specific segments of an organization: CEOs and business owners (The Captain); sales and marketing (the Navigator); finance and procurement (The Trader); and operation and IT (The Engineer). 

Sessions tackled the following topics:

LOOKING AHEAD. Amil Azurin, Eric Alberto, Mitch Locsin, and Nephele Denosta of PLDT address questions from the media after the main plenary session

LOOKING AHEAD.

Amil Azurin, Eric Alberto, Mitch Locsin, and Nephele Denosta of PLDT address questions from the media after the main plenary session

In a press conference held after the plenary session, Eric Alberto gave his prediction on the future of TechIsland and technology as a whole. 

Alberto said: "The pace by which technology is developing is exponential. I don't think that we will have a dearth of new technologies coming to the fore. I'm confident that if we have TechIsland 4.0, we will be discusssing new technologies not just for the elegance of it, but new technologies that bright people have developed to solve real-life problems."

TechIsland 3.0 is another milestone for MSMEs and PLDT Smart SME Nation, a company that continues to inspire, spark change, and influence aspiring and current business leaders. – Rappler.com