Photo shows the startup team of OKTO.
Creating low-cost digitization and higher rewards for MSMEs
It's a race to quickly digitize or get left behind as businesses of all sizes and industries scramble to establish an online and digital-first presence. Filipino consumers are not just digital-first, but also mobile-first. People nowadays turn to their smartphones to find information and do business—and these small yet critical moments on their phones are crucial for any business who wants to capture and retain market and wallet share.
In a Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) mentorship program last year, Secretary Ramon Lopez underscored the urgency for MSMEs to digitize their businesses, stressing that digital technology equalizes the playing field as it provides greater access to product and business model ideas, innovative products and processes, and market access among other benefits.
In the Philippines, MSMEs account for 99.6 percent of the total number of businesses in the country. They also employ 62.8 percent of the total workforce, but only account for 36.5% of GDP according to the DTI. But digitization comes at a cost and existing solutions on the market don’t often quite match the particular needs of SMEs.
Answering the digitization challenge
To stay top of mind and retain customers in an increasingly fickle digital space, SMEs need to digitize their business and enable hassle-free cashless payments alongside engaging retention programs that boost customer lifetime value.
GoDigital provides cost-effective digital solutions via its customizable products and modular feature sets, helping SMEs digitize while optimizing efficiency and maximizing their resources.
OKTO for cashless sales and customer retention
Built by GoDigital to service the needs of Filipino consumers and SMEs, OKTO is a secure and reliable platform for easy cashless payments and digital hub for loyalty and rewards programs. OKTO is an entire ecosystem where customers can easily pay, earn and redeem rewards, while SMEs benefit from a fully customizable, tailor-made solution that can easily fit their needs without stretching their resources.
OKTO has three modules, namely OKTO Pay, OKTO Loyalty, and OKTO POS. OKTO Pay is an easy-to-use digital wallet that enables cashless transactions to both the business and the consumer. OKTO Pay conveniently opens bills payment options, loading services, and e-pins purchasing to the users through the app. With the SMEs and the unbanked Filipinos in mind, GoDigital has made sure that OKTO Pay accepts cashless transactions and other services with or without an internet connection. All this made available with zero maintaining balance.
OKTO Loyalty helps SMEs create engaging rewards programs that drive customer loyalty. It’s a fast and easy way for SMEs to customize how their clients get rewarded, receive promotions and enjoy targeted benefits. OKTO Loyalty doesn’t just stop with transactional rewarding, it gives the business the power to target whom they want to reward, when they want to reward, and how they want the users to go and get the reward. OKTO Loyalty makes rewarding fun and engaging for both the business and the consumer.
OKTO POS is an all-in-one, customizable and easy-to-use POS system designed for SMEs that helps simplify and streamline inventory management, sales, and cash flow. OKTO POS allows SMEs take the next step into digitization by providing a simple POS platform complete with inventory management, cashless transactions and custom reports complete with a full-fledged back-end office giving the modern SME, whether retail or service, a complete platform that fits their budget.
Enabling quick and long-term wins
GoDigital has opened its doors in Q3 of 2016 and has continuously employed young Filipino talents from all over Manila and Bulacan. As of January 2019, after opening a beta community to one of the biggest E-sports movers last July 2018, OKTO has transitioned 120,000 users using the OKTO Pay system that was grown organically from partnerships. It is expected to ramp up once the OKTO App becomes available to download on the last week of February 2019, and loyalty becomes available as an update on the first week of March.
With no signs of stopping and a new lineup of products commissioned by SMEs and corporations, and over 400,000 users pending to be converted from partners into the OKTO system with estimated completion by July; 2019 is truly the time for Philippine businesses to go-digital.
THE U.S. Embassy in the Philippines awarded a P23.8 million grant to the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to support implementation of the Philippines National Broadband Network Project.
U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim and DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. signed the grant during a ceremony at DICT headquarters on February 7.
The grant, issued through the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), will fund technical assistance to help DICT advance its plans to provide broadband access to underserved markets throughout the Philippines. The advisors, who will be selected by DICT from qualified U.S. firms, will assist DICT in refining technical and operational designs, assessing future market demand, and preparing documentation required for the financing and implementation of the network.
“The U.S. is a strong friend, partner, and ally of the Philippines, and I am proud to expand our partnership in technology and communications,” said Ambassador Kim. “This grant supports the Philippine government’s goal of improving connectivity across the country and transitioning towards a digital economy.”
USTDA links U.S. businesses to export opportunities by funding project preparation and partnership building activities that develop sustainable infrastructure and foster economic growth in partner countries. USTDA Acting Director Thomas R. Hardy explained, “This grant demonstrates USTDA’s commitment to supporting the development of quality information and communications infrastructure and broadband capabilities in the Philippines. At the same time, this project will expand opportunities for U.S. companies to deliver innovative technologies and solutions in the Philippines market.”
PHOTO shows (from left to right) Mr. Tomoyuki Fukura (President, Fujifilm Philippines); Ms. Aileen Antolin (Trustee for Program Development, Philippine Foundation for Breast Care Inc.); Ms. Maria Lourdes V. Cortez (Chairperson, Philippine Foundation for Breast Care Inc.); Ms. Neliza Ann Zita (Product Marketing Manager, Fujifilm Philippines Medical Division); and Mr. Evan Reyes (Medical Systems Division Manager, Fujifilm Philippines)
FUJIFILM Philippines, Inc. one of the most trusted camera and film brands in the world, echoes the call for regular testing for the early detection of breast cancer. The illness is still the leading cause of death among Filipino women.
Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Fujifilm PH is reminding women to have themselves screened and checked for breast cancer owing to the alarming rates of breast cancer in the country.
“Even with all the advancements in the medical field, there’s still no cure for breast cancer. Early detection and prevention are still key. We at Fujifilm PH would like to appeal to women to not be afraid and have themselves checked. The higher your risk factors, the earlier you should have a mammogram,” said FUJIFILM Philippines President Tomoyuki Fukura.
He adds that women should no longer dread undergoing a mammogram because digital technology has made the test more comfortable, quicker, and practically pain-free! The mammography machines of old have caused undue stress and trauma to women that most of them do not want to go through the same experience again.
However, Mr. Fukura stresses that testing and early detection are critical in lowering the mortality rate from breast cancer.
For many years now, Fujifilm has been contributing to the early detection and treatment of breast cancer through the promotion of the Pink Ribbon campaign by directing women's awareness towards this cancer. This October, Fujifilm PH partnered with Philippine Foundation for Breast Care Inc. in a Breast Cancer learning session with the PH media.
Prevention is Still Better than Cure
According to the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, one in every 13 Filipino women will most likely develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Research also revealed that there are more cases of breast cancer in Manila compared to other Asian Cities.
Unfortunately, majority of cases are diagnosed in the late stages - Stage 3 or Stage 4. This leaves them with very little time to explore various modes of treatment. By this time too, the cancer has normally spread to different parts of the body, making it even more difficult to treat.
Unknown to many, the FUJIFILM brand produces more than just cameras and film. The global company was established in 1934 and has continuously worked to improve its proprietary core technologies. They have made countless important contributions in healthcare, graphic systems, optical devices, digital imaging and document products.
The company’s revolutionary techniques and wealth of experience has enabled them to come up with high-precision and high-resolution mammography devices. The Fujifilm line of mammography machines offer image quality, versatility and practicality. Because of Fujifilm’s digital imaging expertise, expect the machine to offer crisp and high-resolution images coupled with Fuji’s proprietary dual-side reading technology.
These state-of-the-art machines are available here in the country. Earlier this year, the government-run Philippine General Hospital (PGH) in Ermita, Manila acquired a Fujifilm Innovality Mammography Machine, which is used to detect breast cancer and related ailments.
Last October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Fujifilm PH is reminding women to have themselves screened and checked for breast cancer owing to the alarming rates of breast cancer in the country.
BAPTISMALS, confirmation rites, the Holy Communion, weddings, funerals, even Sunday masses--these are just some of the occasions that are held in Catholic churches. It is a place where both simple and momentous events take place, be it a weekday mass at noon, or a grand wedding. Underneath all these occasions, however, are countless data that need to be processed, organized, and filed.
The Catholic church transcends its role as a venue for various events in a person’s life. It needs to record a multitude of data such as marriage certificates and death records. However, there are churches in the Philippines that still process and record files using paper alone. This makes recorded data to be susceptible to theft and destruction, most especially with the threat of natural disasters.
The Parish of Santo Tomas de Aquino, or Santo Tomas Church, in Santo Tomas, Batangas, is quick to identify the need to transform its record-keeping processes. In 2018, the Archdiocese of Lipa, Batangas, partnered with the Philippine Daybook Registration Corporation, next|ix, and solutions provider OVCode to keep their data in a digital space. OVCode then linked with Microsoft to use its cloud computing platform, Azure, to enable Santo Tomas Church to shift from manual to digital record-keeping.
Before going digital, all documents were recorded on paper, which the Catholic church calls “the book.”
All files were physical, tangible copies that were filed in the church. When a file is needed, the church would have to manually open the books one by one and go through indices.
In response to the old system, OVCode’s digital infrastructure enables both the church and the community to manage and retrieve their records conveniently. Members of the Catholic community are able to access their files and certificates through the platform, and no longer have to physically be present in the church to retrieve any records they may need. Similarly, the church can manage the data efficiently and more securely through the platform. “It isn’t complicated anymore. We don’t have to open our books and check the index one by one.
There are times that we need something to be verified, that’s the only time when we have to check the books,” says Father Juan Nepomuceno D. Fruto of the Archdiocese of Lipa. “We save more time, reduce chances of error in retrieving the files, and make it easier and more convenient for members of the community to access their records.”
OVCode’s platform uses blockchain technology to securely keep the church’s documents, and integrates this with Microsoft Azure’s cloud technology to safely run applications and secure data.
While some staff met the transformation with difficulty, most gradually adapted to the new process. “In fact, this newer version is similar to their old system. This iteration is now just one click, based on our discussion with them,” according to OVCode’s Chief Architect Rosary Tuico.
Now that digitally transforming record-keeping in the Santo Tomas Church has been successful, the end goal for the project is to transform and digitally connect all churches in the Philippines to uniformly provide more convenience to both churches and the wider and Catholic community.
“The religious sector may not be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to digital transformation,” Christian Lim, Microsoft Philippines’ Chief Operating Officer said.
“But now, more than ever, various industries have seen the need to think outside the box to optimize their operations and secure their data. By adapting blockchain and cloud technology, the religious sector is proving to be a beacon of progress.”
The Church being a traditional institution is not above digital transformation. It must transcend its role as a venue for various events in a person’s life. It needs to record a multitude of data such as marriage certificates and death records.
DIGITALIZATION is not the answer to revive the Philippine comic book industry, a
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by: Raymond G.B. Tribdino
WHEN talking to David Geilhufe, Senior Director of Social Impact, Netsuite, you’ll spend half the time laughing and the other half mesmerized by the way he passionately describes his mission.
"To make a change, one suite at a time."
Suite here, refers to NetSuite, an ERP solution invented by Evan Goldberg. Oracle married Netsuite in 2016 and paid a handsome dowry of $9.6 billion. The merger was expected to change the way the company would do business.
Oracle, the one who goes to office in a suit and carrying a briefcase joining forces with Netsuite, coming to office in jeans and a backpack? Many doubters said the marriage would be tumultuous. But so far so good.
I first met David in Las Vegas during the 2015 SuiteWorld conference. That was a year before Oracle merged with the company. We were in the same line volunteering to pack items into relief goods bags ready for distribution when and where it was needed. The table where we worked on had volunteers from the company, from suppliers, and like me, on-the-spot sign ups.
He reminded me of the post-hippie, after the long hair-got-cut Donald Fagen of Steely Dan. His beard and moustache sculptured and clean, the wide rimmed glasses magnified his inquisitive eyes. Don’t let that exterior catch you off guard. He is funny, but frank and is serious when it comes to executing Social Impact—a social development project started by Goldberg, Netsuite's founder and now EVP for Development under the merger.
Though jetlagged, he indulged me in this interview. His eyes brighten when speaking about the projects his Social Impact group is doing globally. The Philippines was his only stop in Asia and eighteen hours after this interview he was on route to Australia.
Social Impact is Oracle Netsuite’s facility to support nonprofits to succeed using the powerful Cloud technology that the company provides.
My first question to Dave was about what the merger of Oracle and Netsuite brought to the company and how it affected the how Social Impact operates.
Me: “After the merger what happened to Social Impact?”
David: “There are two things going on. First is the synergy of working together, and the other the synergy of not working together. Oracle had its own corporate social responsibility projects distinct from that of Netsuite. The merger did not affect how we offer product donations, software discounts, skills pro bono program and capacity building which are extremely focused to support nonprofits of all sizes in growing their mission.”
Me: “But Oracle is a tight fit, compared to Netsuite how has that affected the CSR base under the merger?”
David: “These programs are narrowly designed for nonprofits to operate better. Oracle on the one hand is broader in its implementations. They have cash grants for projects for example which Netsuite never had. It is a common corporate vision had to do with the way the CSRs were deployed separately and collaboratively. Netsuite on the other hand, based all its actions on using existing systems to make non profits better businesses.
Me: “So you guys actually work together? I can’t imagine how.” (I then make a reference to the Oracle team in their long sleeved shirts and the Netsuite guys in their rash guards.)
David: “There is a lot of stuff that when together we have a greater whole, and there is a lot of benefit to focus narrowly on specific things that the Netsuite GBU (Group Business Unit) are good at. Remember that nonprofits of all sizes are eligible for a base donation of Social Impact’s nonprofit solution with no-cost activation of the Netsuite platform.”
I asked him what the value of the Philippines is to the Social Impact program in its entirety considering how the company’s biggest group of employees and operations outside of the United States is found here.
David’s eyes lit up at that question.
Me: “And what about us in the Philippines? What is the Philippines to the merger?”
David: “It means a lot! When we started Social Impact we started our core teams here in Manila and one of the other things we know is that when you give someone technology and human interaction of helping them use it, is actually way more important that the technology itself,”
Me: “So there is no change in anything?”
David: “There is a certain way the program works. Oracle’s program runs in parallel to our Social Impact. The deployment of software, for example is considered a donation. This donation is aligned to the need of the nonprofit and enough to power its financial management operations. The appropriateness of the technology first into that small organization and has no recurring cost.”
Me: “And the teams in Manila?”
David: “They are still very much active. Look, right now we got a team in RCBC doing their jobs while we are having lunch. (He points to a bunch of people waving at him as they get ready to race off the Yuchengco Building to complete a training session) Without human interaction and training the fullness of this Social Impact cannot be fully realized."
He stresses how Manila is pivotal to the way Social Impact is deployed worldwide.
Me: “So Manila is a favored child?”
David: “If you go to Manila you say, wow. You know what? There is a relationship-based culture here, you can walk into someone’s office, start a conversation, get the NGOs together and start talking. Campaigns in Manila are so strong. It is kind of interaction that makes Manila so important to us.
Nonprofits and social enterprises in the Philippines transform digitally by using NetSuite’s platforms for functions such as accounting, donor and project management, online commerce, fundraising and marketing, now all enhanced by additional capabilities from Oracle."
David said despite the merger and because of the synergies, nothing has changed in, but gained even more for Social Impact. It continues to, as it has done when it was conceptualized make nonprofits operate as better businesses—sustainable in operations—by addressing pain points such as where to get funding, tight budgets, limited IT resources and more players in the funding space.
Me: “And the nonprofits are they favored children too?”
David: “The platform simply treats these charities we work with like any other business in our portfolio. To provide them the space to grow and make their business better. This is why Evan insisted that nonprofits get a special treatment. Yes they are favored. Because they are aimed at doing good.”
(Naturally in the course of the conversation, that statement does not mean for-profit companies to not do good. Many of them do. But currently hundreds of nonprofit organizations around the world who have moved to NetSuite's integrated cloud ERP, CRM and e-commerce solution have become efficient operators as they reduce costs and upshift operational efficiency. This allows them to do more good, more efficiently. "Efficiently good," yes. That's what's it is all about. At the same time it enables company to free up resources and refocus these on where it matters-- recruiting volunteers, fund-raising and making a difference.)
Me: “This makes non-profits special in Netsuite’s heart, doesn’t it?”
David: “Part of this “specialness” is this that Evan thought that these companies already doing good work should be given more opportunities to do more good. And Netsuite was just that opportunity,”