Firms urged to focus on technology, innovation initiatives

Entrepreneurs are encouraged to focus on technology and innovation initiatives as they recalibrate strategies and operations to meet shifting and rebounding consumer demands amid the pandemic.

Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (PHILEXPORT) president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. cited a study by McKinsey & Company showing that consumer sentiment and behavior are shifting rapidly as people adapt to the “new normal”.

“As a result, enterprises across the world are compelled to rethink their strategies, pivot to other business models, and find the markets or products that will keep them relevant and afloat. Thanks to technology, we have proven how smarter we are than these evolving virus threats,” he said during the recent Mindanao Trade Expo.

Ortiz-Luis said exports particularly have been making a strong comeback despite challenges other than the coronavirus.

He added market reports have attributed this “good surge” to what is called “revenge purchases” that include non-essential goods, such as housewares and furniture.

Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data show the country’s export earnings grew an average of 20.9 percent in January to June 2021 amounting to USD35.90 billion.

To help address pandemic-related and other issues, Ortiz-Luis underscored the importance of traditional interventions, including programs and services such as loan facilities to assist micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) bounce back to recovery, skills upgrading, information sessions, and policy consultations and workshops.

Arriel Nengasca, chief trade and industry development specialist at DTI-11 Industry Development Division, said there are government agencies that assist entrepreneurs undertake innovation.

“We have government agencies that can help on how you are going to innovate your business, whether it’s new product development or it’s an improvement of your existing process and system so it will be clear how you can earn. You might have a problem on pricing, on costing. You cannot see these (problems) but with the systems that will be introduced to your company, you will be able to see the whole operation and you can see now if you are earning, how much are you earning for each product,” he said in mixed English and Filipino in the same event.

Nengasca said the DTI also conducts various entrepreneurship and digital training for businesses.

“Going digital is one way to reach your market and even to attract new market segments so let’s learn the technology,” he added.

DTI-11 regional director Maria Belenda Ambi said MSMEs need to be more persistent, resilient, adaptive, and innovative for them to sustain operations and survive the pandemic.

“…Given this environment, the digital transformation of our MSMEs has become a necessity as business transactions are gearing toward digital applications,” she said.

Ambi said there is also a need to tap the domestic market with a population of about 110 million.

“It is about time that we patronize our local brands and support our MSMEs by giving them a boost in their local market share so that they can still grow their business, create jobs, and contribute to the country’s economic recovery,” she said.

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