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PLDT, Smart drive digital transformation, offer ‘lifeline’ to small biz

PLDT and its wireless arm Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) forge ahead in extending services that enable Filipinos to thrive in the new normal, reinforcing the “backbone” of the economy.

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PLDT and its wireless arm Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) forge ahead in extending services that enable Filipinos to thrive in the new normal, reinforcing the “backbone” of the economy.

“In the face of massive job losses in lower income sectors due to the shutdown of retail services and establishments, e-commerce platforms serve as a lifeline for minimum wage earners and small business owners. More than the bigger establishments’ digital adoption, our network services and solutions allow small players to go into online retailing and thrive in the new normal,” said Alfredo S. Panlilio, Smart Communications President and CEO and PLDT Chief Revenue Officer, at a recent online summit hosted by the Shareholders’ Association of the Philippines.

The online summit series focused on reshaping the economy through inclusive business and highlighted the role of connectivity, e-commerce platforms and digital finance in the new normal, where customers have largely shifted from in-person transactions to online.

“An IBM research shows that in the space of 12 months, the pandemic has brought forward the transition from physical shopping to e-commerce by an estimated five years.  Banking has also gone digital. Payment and financial processing can be done in a click of a finger,” said Panlilio.

Workplace transformation

Panlilio added that, in addition to this shift, workplaces have also been transformed, alongside the entertainment needs of customers–both of which are empowered by connectivity and relevant services by PLDT and Smart.

“Analysts expect that in 2022 as much as 30% of the workforce will continue to work from home multiple days a week.  Meanwhile, as people stayed home for entertainment, broadband usage across the country rose exponentially,” he said, adding that these changes drove PLDT and Smart to rethink telco’s role as enabler of passions and utility on the internet, with a genuine focus on providing Filipinos with the tools and products to survive and thrive in the new normal.  

“The increased usage of data driven by work and study from home during the pandemic speaks of telco as a utility, while the increased use of data on a personal consumption level, such as video-streaming, online stories, e-games, etc., responding to the consumer’s need to be entertained and care for their overall wellbeing, describes telco as an enabler of people’s passion and purpose.  Both roles are equally important,” he stressed.

This is aligned with Smart’s “Live Smarter for a Better World” campaign, which highlights Smart’s role in enabling customers in their pursuit of passion and purpose and achieving “personal revolutions” that generate lasting positive impact to society through connectivity, long-running community partnership programs, and CSR initiatives.

To address these growing data needs, PLDT and Smart are continuously investing in their integrated fixed and wireless networks.

“Transitioning to the new digital reality requires internet speeds to increase, coverage to expand and reliability to improve,” he said, adding that the companies continue to invest in their network infrastructure, particularly in their 5G networks, subsea cables, and towers, in order to secure the future of our country in this increasingly digital world.

Currently, PLDT and Smart are ramping up the rollout of Smart’s 5G network nationwide, which now has over 2,600 sites–the most extensive 5G network in the Philippines.

“Our investment in fiber is also crucial and continuous, to support our increasingly connected societies.  This is broadly split into the fiber connecting our homes with high-speed internet, and the enterprise point-to-point fiber network servicing the growing data demands of government and enterprise clients,” he said.

PH as ‘hyperscaler hub’

In addition to ramping up their fiber installation and repair capabilities despite the restrictions brought about by the pandemic, Panlilio said PLDT is also building capacities to bring hyperscalers into the country. “Ultimately, our vision is to help make the Philippines a strategic hyperscaler hub in the region,” he said.

Alongside all these, Panlilio said that providing network services to support the country’s COVID-19 response remains a top priority.

“The fact that network services are a crucial component in our country’s COVID-19 response is something that we take to heart.  Working with our government to deliver fast and reliable connectivity that is easily accessible where they are needed, such as in COVID isolation facilities, hospitals, health centers, LGUs, etc., is top priority for us at PLDT and Smart,” he said. “For PLDT and Smart, and telco in general, two words stand out: service and connection.”

Underpinning these services is PLDT’s fiber network infrastructure, now over 429,000 kilometers, the country’s most extensive. This fiber also supports Smart’s mobile network, which covers 96% of the population from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi.

These initiatives form a large part of PLDT’s capital expenditures, which totaled P460.7 billion in the last ten years. To address the growing data needs of their fixed and wireless customers, PLDT and Smart are prepared to invest between P88 billion and P92 billion in capital expenditures in 2021.

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LinkedIn lists top startups in PH, highlights rise of digital entrepreneurship, entertainment, education

The Philippines has always had a strong MSME (micro, small, and medium enterprises) sector. The pandemic further propelled its growth as Filipinos embarked on micro or solo entrepreneurship to augment their income and overcome financial challenges.

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LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, revealed its inaugural Top Startups in the Philippines list, which highlights the local startups that have shown resilience in an uncertain market environment and are continuing to innovate in 2022.  

LinkedIn analyzed data across four pillars to compile the list: employee growth, jobseeker interest, the attraction of top talent, and engagement with the company’s LinkedIn page and its employees. This is the first time LinkedIn has introduced the Top Startups list in the Philippines.

Satoshi Ebitani, Senior Managing Editor, LinkedIn News, said: “In an uncertain financial climate, what has proven resilient time and time again is the enterprising spirit that startups embody, especially those on this year’s LinkedIn Top Startups list. In the Philippines, we see a diverse mix in sectors such as e-commerce, education, and entertainment, which continue to lead the way in the future of skills by embracing innovation and attracting top talent with their robust cultures. Through this list, we hope to spark meaningful conversations surrounding the future of work and inspire professionals to equip themselves with the necessary skills to thrive, no matter the headwinds.”

New era of entrepreneurship

The Philippines has always had a strong MSME (micro, small, and medium enterprises) sector. The pandemic further propelled its growth as Filipinos embarked on micro or solo entrepreneurship to augment their income and overcome financial challenges. This new class of entrepreneurs behind startups such as SariSuki (#2), Shoppertainment Live (#3), Edamama (#5), Growsari (#6), Peddlr (#9), and Prosperna (#10) met opportunities to respond to the demands of the times.

Entertainment, E-sports, and Education companies are thriving 

The success of the live-streaming platform Kumu (#4), led by local creatives and talent, highlights the country’s growing demand for innovative and interactive digital entertainment that champions Filipino voices and perspectives. Meanwhile, gaming and e-sports company Tier One Entertainment (#1) shows the unique potential of this lucrative industry by investing in talent and technology.

“Investing in automation, the right people, and experienced leadership who are open to feedback and the ever-changing status quo of our industry was key for surviving and growing during the pandemic. Pivoting quickly through setbacks is vital to survival in these times,” Tryke Gutierrez, Co-Founder and CEO of Tier One Entertainment, said. “LinkedIn has helped us tell our story to the world. We’re able to share more long-form content that isn’t as readily digestible on other social media platforms to an audience that is more open to serious or nuanced discussion,” he added.

Education technology (Edtech) platform Edukasyon.ph (#8) saw an opportunity to be of service in response to the disruption in the education sector and emerging concerns about the future readiness of today’s youth.

Growth areas in digital finance

As digital finance becomes more mainstream in the Philippines, the rise of  PDAX (Philippine Digital Asset Exchange) (#7), a homegrown cryptocurrency exchange, indicates the Filipinos’ growing interest in exploring new frontiers in personal finance and investments to diversify and optimize their portfolios, navigate the current economic climate, and benefit from future growth potential.     

The top 10 startups in the Philippines are:

  1. Tier One Entertainment
  2. SariSuki
  3. Shoppertainment Live
  4. Kumu
  5. Edamama
  6. GrowSari
  7. PDAX (Philippine Digital Asset Exchange)
  8. Edukasyon.ph
  9. Peddlr
  10. Prosperna

More details on the LinkedIn Top Startups list in the Philippines are found here.

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Cash may not be most effective way to motivate employees

84 per cent spent more than $90 billion annually on tangible employee rewards, such as gift cards, recreation trips and merchandise in hopes of increasing productivity. 

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Photo by Andre Taissin from Unsplash.com

Tangible rewards motivate employees when they’re easy to use, pleasurable, unexpected, and distinct from salary, a new study found. 

A recent survey of firms in the US revealed that 84 per cent spent more than $90 billion annually on tangible employee rewards, such as gift cards, recreation trips and merchandise in hopes of increasing productivity. 

“We found that there is, at best, mixed evidence regarding the motivational efficacy of tangible rewards versus cash rewards,” said Adam Presslee, an associate professor at the University of Waterloo’s School of Accounting and Finance. “It is somewhat puzzling why so many companies go to the trouble of tangible rewards when cash rewards also lead to motivational differences.”

Presslee and his co-author, University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Willie Choi, used four experiments to investigate the factors driving the preference between cash and tangible rewards. The attributes examined include ease of use of the reward (fungibility), hedonic nature of the reward (want vs. need), the novelty of the reward, and how the reward is presented. 

“Rewards are constellations of attributes, and firms should focus more on the motivational effects of the attributes associated with a reward rather than the reward type itself,” Presslee said. “Results confirmed that each of these attributes – individually and in combination – increases employee effort and performance.”

The researchers recommend managers interested in motivating employees using tangible rewards would be best served to offer tangible rewards that incorporate these four attributes.

“If for whatever reason tangible rewards are the only tool available, our results show compelling evidence that employees are motivated by rewards that are perceived as distinct from salary,” Presslee said. “Therefore, firms looking to get the most out of their reward programs should emphasize the distinctiveness of those rewards, and the attributes above are four ways firms can do that.”

The study, authored by Presslee and Choi, was recently published in the journal Accounting, Organizations, and Society.

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Engaging leadership style may boost employee engagement

Supervisors perceived as engaged leaders in the initial survey did indeed enhance employee engagement as captured in the second survey. This impact appeared to occur via a boost in employees’ personal psychological resources of optimism, resiliency, self-efficacy, and flexibility—these results are in line with evidence from previous studies.

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Photo by UX Indonesia from Unsplash.com

A new analysis suggests that a particular leadership style dubbed “engaging leadership” can boost employees’ engagement and enhance team effectiveness within the workplace. Greta Mazzetti of the University of Bologna, Italy, and Wilmar Schaufeli of Utrecht University in the Netherlands present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.

An employee who is engaged typically has a positive state of mind relating to their work and shows vigor, dedication, and absorption in their work. Previous research suggests that more engaged employees tend to have greater well-being and better job performance.

Previous research also suggests that a certain style of leadership known as engaging leadership—involving leaders who fulfill employees’ need for autonomy, feeling competent, and feeling cared for—may boost employee engagement. However, most studies of workplace leadership styles have focused on a single point in time, without analyzing potential effects over time.

To provide new insights, Mazzetti and Schaufeli explored the impact of an engaged leadership style on work engagement and team effectiveness of 1,048 employees across 90 teams within a Dutch workplace. Participants each took two surveys, one year apart, which included questions about their supervisors’ level of engaging leadership, their own work engagement, and other personal and team characteristics.

Statistical analysis of the responses suggests that supervisors perceived as engaged leaders in the initial survey did indeed enhance employee engagement as captured in the second survey. This impact appeared to occur via a boost in employees’ personal psychological resources of optimism, resiliency, self-efficacy, and flexibility—these results are in line with evidence from previous studies.

Similarly, engaged leaders appeared to enhance team effectiveness by boosting team resources, which consisted of performance feedback, trust in management, communication, and participation in decision-making. Team resources also appeared to affect individual employee engagement.

These findings support the use of engaging leadership to boost employee engagement and team effectiveness in the workplace. Future research could compare the effects of engaging leadership versus other leadership styles on employees and teams over time.

The authors add: “A leader who inspires, strengthens and connects team members fosters a shared perception of available resources (in terms of performance feedback, trust in management, communication, and participation in decision-making), and a greater psychological capital (i.e., self-efficacy, optimism, resilience, and flexibility).”

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