Thursday, February 21, 2008

ICT growth and pains

This article was published in Manila Times last June 19, 2006

Did you know that there are more women using ICT and the Internet than men? However, when it comes to ICT leadership in government, well, that’s a different story. We have but a few women leaders in IT. Nonetheless, I got the chance to exchange messages with three of these women leaders in this sector and talked about how they perceive the local ICT evolving.

Elena Van Tooren, president of the Philippine Computer Society (PCS), sees the ICT sector growing particularly in the ICT services area. “I think our ICT enabled services sector is fulfilling its promise of making a positive impact on our economy, offering employment, and bringing in revenue to the Philippines. All groups supporting this effort should work tightly together so that the end result is faster growth.”

Cecilia Grace Castillo, head of corporate marketing at Innove Communications, agrees as the country is now being seen as one of the best destination for business process outsourcing and back-end processing.

As for Nerissa Ramos, first vice president for corporate business solution, “The BPO and call center sector, both outsourced and competitive, remains to be the most attractive ICT sub-sector for PLDT.” Adding, “Another promising segment is the mobile workforce. We are bullish that this will give us the most growth as broadband wireless coverage becomes more pervasive in the countryside. And we don’t just mean growth in terms of access but even on collateral business applications such as sales force automation, ERPs, work-at-home call-center agent apps, etc.”

But as with growth, there are also pains that must be managed.

Castillo believes that Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) regulation must be clear and remove its ambiguity. “We need end-to-end policies covering all the gray areas. Rules must be set and agreed upon with all the stakeholders.”

For Van Tooren, the PCS’ Committee on Advocacy has been working hard since last year on the amendments to the Automated Election Law. "The current Automated Election Law, R.A. 8436, is very technology specific, limiting us to the use of an OMR type machine, and does not touch on electronic transmission of results. “Dagdag-bawas” happens during the transmission and consolidation of results. The manual system of elections has severe credibility problems. We need to harness appropriate technology to arrive at a true election result, so that our elected leaders can truly say they have the mandate of the people, the basis of a strong government. We need the stability of a true result. We need a technology-neutral law that ensures the Comelec has available support for technology implementation. We need to successfully pilot in 2007 so that we can implement over a wider coverage in 2010, and arrive at true election results, quickly and transparently, for a stronger democracy,” stressed Van Tooren.

With ICT growth pervasive in the country, we will see more and more IT professionals, especially women, playing an important role in its development. Having a serious ICT agenda is a must and all should push for the creation of a revised Government Information Systems Plan where our country can have a clear agenda and program of action in ICT, rather than ad hoc and hype type of projects.

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