Stakeholders continue to have a positive outlook for Cebu’s IT-BPM industry despite disruptions brought about by COVID-19 restrictions.
Representatives of business process management, telecommunications companies, the academe as well as industry professionals agreed during the recent town hall event organized by the Cebu IT-BPM Organization (CIB.O) that Cebu remains an ideal IT hub despite uncertainties created by the ongoing pandemic.
Any multinational company would pick Cebu over other destinations especially in light of the commendable way it was able to put in place restrictive measures against COVID-19 but at the same time ensured that companies continue to operate safely, Wipro Country Head for Philippines and Malaysia Aseem Roy said during the virtual town hall “Gearing Up Towards New Normal and Beyond.”
Roy, who is liaison director for the CIB.O International Relations Committee, added that he was committed to helping promote Cebu as the leading provider of IT-BPM services for all global companies.
Ensuring business continuity
From an operational perspective, being able to adapt quickly allowed Sykes to fully operate even through the months with the strictest pandemic restrictions.
Sykes Synergis Senior Director for District Operations Joseph Anthony R. Reyes said their early interventions in April that involved physical distancing, foot baths, temperature checks, and sanitation requirements transitioned by July into a full work from home set-up for over 5,000 employees.
“We had to act quickly to adapt to new normal and let the old normal fold,” he cited, adding that company decisions always took into consideration the welfare of employees, clients, and shareholders. This way, Sykes was able to ensure business continuity and workers’ productivity.
Growth despite pandemic challenges
Pointing out that no one anticipated COVID-19, CIB.O Chair Francis Monera said the organization nevertheless came up with measures to meet challenges head-on, including the creation of several committees to ensure industry growth under new normal conditions.
CIB.O President Gregg Victor Gabison said the group’s around 120 members will work together to maintain Cebu’s standing as an IT hub. He added in the President’s Report and Updates that companies continued to operate even when Cebu was placed under enhanced community quarantine status in April but at reduced levels due to physical distancing requirements. By May, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority had allowed close to full operations under a work from home set-up.
Top Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Albert Bryan Lim said that an ECQ status is an effective health measure but disastrous economically, and Cebu should ensure it wouldn’t return to such a situation. He added that as a COVID-19 doctor, he is proof that living with the virus is possible but compliance with health measures must be consistent for these to be effective.
According to Lim, designing workplaces into zones and ensuring little or no interaction between zones and appointing a Health Infection and Prevention Control Officer (HIPCO) to enforce compliance with health standards are among the more effective measures against transmission among employees.
Work from home solutions
With most of the work now being done from home, the country’s top two telecommunication companies said their main thrust involves keeping everyone connected and enabling fast and stable work from home experience.
Globe Business Vice President for Product Development and Engineering Francisco Claravall said they’re also strengthening their cloud architecture and even acquired two new companies to be able to provide clients with solutions for complete digital transformation.
On the other hand, PLDT Enterprise Vice President and Head of Customer Relationship Management Victor Aliwalas said they’ve activated tens of thousands of fiber and DSL connections and made available 50,000 wifi units in the form of routers, pocket wifi devices, and LTE dongles.
He added that the company has also put in place 380,000 kilometers of fiber optic cables for faster and better connectivity, as it continues to strengthen work from home solutions for customers.