A Life Less Analog, Technology

Digital dinosaurs: IBM PH head on how to deal with them

Technology column header

Some dinosaurs evolved into birds, but human dinosaurs are unwilling or unable to embrace digital. So how do we deal with digital dinosaurs?

“First of all, I think we shouldn’t force them. They will move when they see others move. In the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was almost a freeze for the dinosaurs. But they will realize that if you go on your current course, then it will not be sustainable,” said IBM Philippines President and Country General Manager Aileen Judan-Jiao in response to my question.

Boom boom acka lacka lacka boom

Some dinosaurs evolved into birds, but human dinosaurs are unwilling or unable to  embrace digital. So how do we deal with digital dinosaurs? Image credit: OpenClipart-Vectors on Pixabay
Image credit: OpenClipart-Vectors on Pixabay

Jiao led a virtual roundtable discussion with Philippine tech journalists, where she shared the Philippine-specific findings of the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) survey. The IBV surveyed over 6,000 global executives, including 100 executives from the Philippines, across industries. The goal was to gain an in-depth understanding of their organizations’ use of hybrid cloud and multi-cloud, and their approach to multi-cloud management.

The good news? Many Filipino executives don’t want to become digital dinosaurs.

In fact, 51% of Filipino executives shared that digital transformation will increase in priority not just this year, but also for the next two years.

While the COVID-19 pandemic is tragic, it has also forced companies to accelerate their digital transformation, and consumers to embrace the digital lifestyle.

As I said in a previous column piece, I believe the COVID-19 pandemic is the asteroid that will finally make the dinosaurs extinct. And by dinosaurs I mean individuals and companies who still refuse to embrace digital.

It’s the end of the world as we know it

To be fair, Jiao pointed out that just because companies don’t seem to be moving doesn’t necessarily mean they are digital dinosaurs.

“It almost felt like it was overnight,” she pointed out at the start of the roundtable, referring to how the COVID-19 pandemic drastically changed the world.

She noted that the barriers to digital transformation are not only a matter of lack of access to technology, but also reluctance to change. Executives, however, are finding it easier to overcome previous resistance to digital adoption because this is now a business imperative in the face of the pandemic.

Jiao also emphasized the need to train people and equip them with the right skills for the workplace of the future. For instance, IBM is helping students and teachers prepare for the future through initiatives such as its free digital education platform called Open P-TECH

Asked if government executives now also see digital adoption as a priority, just like their private sector counterparts, Jiao replied: “You’re seeing a lot of public-private sector discussion on this topic. Not just on policy. Government is also doing its best to become agile.”

For instance, she cited Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno, who a leading proponent of digital transformation. In fact, Diokno shared in May that the BSP is committed to the goal of 50% of retail payments in the Philippines being digital by 2023.

Turn and face the strange

That’s why it doesn’t make sense to live in denial and think the world will simply go back to normal after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Remote work is here to stay. Remote learning is here to stay. The digital lifestyle is here to stay. Now that more consumers have experienced the convenience of online shopping, digital payments, grocery delivery, and so on, do you really think they would want to go back to the way things were?

The world has changed. Deal with it.

In fact, we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of how our post-pandemic world will change in the next decade.

Welcome to the brave new world. It will be a world that embraces artificial intelligence. A cloud-first world. A world that blends the virtual and the real.

For digital dinosaurs, the choice is simple: evolve or die.

The asteroid has already wiped them out. They just don’t know it yet.