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REDISCOVER Why IBM Philippines is “Essential” (Update 3)

When Virginia Rommety – the first female President and CEO of IBM – declared that  the 101-year-old company’s mission and aspiration for the next 100 years is to become “essential” to the clients, investors, country (where IBM operates), and employees, IBM Philippines took such declaration to a personalized – and glocalized level.

Mariels Almeda Winhoffer – who was only appointed early 2012 as IBM Philippines 14th and the first female Country Manager and CEO – cites that for the company’s 75th year in the country, they are ensuring that the whole business model is supporting such mission and aspiration, anchored on the platform, “Transformation through Information.”

Becoming “Essential”

To be essential to the country, community, customers, and people, IBM’s four identified growth areas – Smarter Cities, geo-expansion, Cloud, and Analytics – have been aligned with the Philippine government’s priorities.

Smarter Cities is an initiative that apply many of IBM’s Smarter Planet principles and innovations in public safety, transportation, water, building, social services, and agencies. Last month, IBM inked a PHP128 million project with the Davao City government to scale up its existing Public Safety and Security Command Center (PSSCC) through IBM’s Intelligent Operations Center (IOC) solutions. IBM’s IOC is geared to help create Davao City a smart and safe city by applying advanced technologies like Geographic Information System (GIS), video analytics capabilities, early warning system, simplified dashboard, among relevant technologies.

Second is geo-expansion. Incorporated on July 20, 1937, IBM Philippines remains essential to IBM’s overall growth strategy.  As it celebrates its diamond anniversary today, the company leaders pride that the Philippines has been identified as one of IBM Corporation’s 20 focus countries, aligned with the company’s geographic expansion strategy in identified growth market units worldwide.

“The Philippines is a growth market and our geo-expansions include Davao, Calamba, and Subic and Clark. That’s our commitment [along] with the government’s ‘New Wave Cities,’ initiative. We’re enabling the transformation that this country is going through [now],” Almeda highlights during today’s media luncheon.

As a globally-integrated enterprise, IBM Philippines expands its industry leadership in Sales and Distribution for IT and IT-enabled services, Global Delivery Center for Application Services, Global Process Services (the Business Process Outsourcing [BPO] arm of IBM), and an Innovation Center. As one of the highlights of its 75th year, IBM Philippines announced that it has renewed its commitment to the country through the establishment of the first Philippine Systems and Technology R&D Laboratory.

In collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the R&D Lab is geared to advance four critical areas for the Philippines: BPO, governance for anti-corruption, talent development, and innovation for a knowledge-based economy. “… It’s not just us doing research and development for the sake of technology or for the sake of researching or developing something … [we’re] very focused on responding to the practical, essential needs of our Filipino people. Things [about] flood management, rice production, education: How has IBM got involved in these big issues that drive the way Filipinos live their lives here? It’s through technology. Our involvement in [these issues] will manifest itself through the [use] of our Analytics tools,” Winhoffer cites.

Watson is also an example how IBM has committed its resources to pursue advancement, Winhoffer cites. The AI (artificial intelligence) computer system capable of answering questions posed in natural language, bested Jeopardy! quiz show champions last year (thus becoming one of the highlights of IBM’s centennial celebration in 2011). But Watson is more than just a quiz show champ, Winhoffer stresses. “Watson [is] really, fundamentally IBM’s mission and aspiration: To use technology to solve the most complex issues that face mankind,” Winhoffer shares.

“Analytics will give us the platform to become more essential to the country, through our relationship with DOST, non-government organizations (NGOs), and through other means, to address, to give us a better understanding of the [issues],” Winhoffer says.

It’s Only the Beginning

Currently, the 75-year-old IBM Philippines has over 5,000 clients, 400 business partners, 130 authorized service centers, and operates from 12 world-class facilities nationwide.

While 75 years speak a lot of the success and longevity of the company in the Philippines and in the region, as well as IBM’s rise from its near-death experience in the 90s, Winhoffer says that things are only “starting” for IBM Philippines.

In line with such, Winhoffer shares that the Philippines has been chosen by global IBM to become the center for providing integrated health services. “We’re recognizing the skill sets of the nurses here in the Philippines. We’re going to elevate that and from here, we’re going to [virtually] support them in the United States … just like providing them with the support of highly talented and skilled professionals. It was just announced yesterday and we’re very proud of that because they chose us over Latin America and other continents, over other ASEAN countries,” she beams.

“The confidence and excitement of our global company is somehow pouring [here] in IBM Philippines: bringing operations here, further investing in our capacity, not only to support our revenue, but really to support the global business. In fact, this requires higher level skills, [like] providing Level 2 to 3 support from here for software and Level 2 to 3 support from here for hardware, so that really means Filipinos do possess the skills,” Winhoffer says.

On a personal note, Winhoffer says she is very blessed and honored to be part of IBM. “I’m pretty much a tool, an enabler, of what my predecessors did. I’m the 14th [Country Manager and CEO] and I’m building on the foundation built by my predecessors. [And] as one IBM in the Philippines, we will be better, bigger, and we will be very essential to the country,” she ends.

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