US-ABC Holds 2nd Digital Transformation in Government Series in the Philippines

(Manila, Philippines) - The US-ASEAN Business Council (the Council) hosted the second iteration of its “Digital Transformation in Government Series”, a platform for different Philippine government agencies and the private sector to discuss the initiatives and challenges of shifting to a more digital landscape. The workshop, which was hosted in partnership with SAP, IBM, and Meta, provided an interactive and comprehensive set of presentations, breakout sessions, and panel discussions, ​ focusing on three main topics: cloud technology, artificial intelligence, and connectivity. Over 100 public officials from different government agencies gathered in Ascott, Bonifactio Global City on April 19, 2023 for the event.

The Digital Transformation in Government Series was officially opened by Amb. Michael Michalak, Senior Vice President and Regional Managing Director for the Council; Usec. David Almirol, Undersecretary for E-Government for the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT); and Usec. Gerald Divinagracia, Undersecretary for the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA). Each of them delivered their welcoming remarks, with all of them highlighting the increasing importance of digitalization to the ​ Philippine economy, in line with the Marcos administration's goal of digital transformation amidst globalization.

“We recognize that there are multiple complexities involved as governments digitally transform themselves. Through this workshop series, we hope to bridge the development and implementation gaps in digital transformation through public-private partnerships,” Amb. Michalak stated in his remarks. Meanwhile, Atty. Ivan John Uy, Secretary of the DICT stated the ​ plan of the public sector to become more digitalized in their operations.

The program was ​ divided into three parts, ​ each spearheaded by SAP, IBM, and Meta. The first two topics introduced new technologies, cloud technology, and artificial intelligence in public services and operations.

The discussion on cloud technology, presented and moderated by SAP, focused on its application among the public sector. “Public sector organizations will need to take advantage of cloud technologies and breakthrough innovations to become more proactive, automated, foresighted, data-driven, and citizen-focused. The core mission of the public sector – to protect the community, provide services, and help the economy prosper starts by being a sustainable, intelligent enterprise, and SAP is ​ committed to empower organizations to achieve digital inclusion and a sustainable future,” Rudy Abrahams, Managing Director of SAP Philippines stated.

The second segment consisted of a presentation and a modified design-thinking workshop on the multiple faces of artificial intelligence, hosted and moderated by IBM. Kieran HAGAN, Data, AI & Automation Principal Technical Sales Leader of IBM Technology in ASEAN, ANZ and Korea (ASEANZK), explained that “the emergence of new Artificial Intelligence technologies has created a conversation across the media and people’s homes. However it raises the question of trust and explainability before it can be applied practically to government department and agencies. We consider the development of new foundational models will help solve challenges in scaling and operationalizing massive AI, while introducing the governance and ethical frameworks needed to ensure it is used responsibly.”

The workshop was concluded with a series of presentations and a panel discussion led by Meta. The speakers discussed the digital infrastructure necessary to enable new technologies in the country, especially in the public sector. “Investments in digital infrastructure must be prioritized to address the existing digital divide and to cement the country’s reputation as the next digital connectivity hub in the region,” Clare Amador, Head of Public Policy for Philippines and Thailand at Meta emphasized.

This event had notable attendees from different government branches - Representative Joey Salceda, Usec. Angelo Nuestro, Asec. Philip Varilla from the DICT and Executive Director of the Government Procurement Policy Board Rowena Candice M. Ruiz as well as various ICT officers also participated the event. ​ All-in-all, representatives from over 30 agencies including the Department of Information and Communications Technology, Anti-Red Tape Authority, Department of Trade and Industry, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Department of Budget and Management, Department of Finance, Department of Agriculture, Department of Science and Technology, and staff from the Senate of the Philippines and House of Representatives were in attendance.

Ultimately, through this second iteration of the workshop, relevant government agencies were able to identify how the private sector can assist in their digital transformation initiatives and how other government agencies can host dialogues for ​ more inter-agency cooperation.The first of the series was held in August of 2022. The series aims to continuously help government agencies identify opportunities, challenges, and the necessary steps to move forward with the country’s digital transformation agenda, especially in the public sector.


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About US-ASEAN Business Council

Since 1984, the US-ASEAN Business Council has been the premier advocacy organization for U.S. corporations operating within the dynamic Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Worldwide, the Council's membership of nearly 170 companies generates almost US$7 trillion in revenue and employs more than 14.5 million people.  Today our members include the largest U.S. companies conducting business in ASEAN and range from newcomers to the region to companies that have been working in Southeast Asia for more than 100 years. The Council has nine offices around the globe, in Washington, DC; New York, NY; Bangkok, Thailand; Hanoi, Vietnam; Jakarta, Indonesia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Manila, Philippines; Singapore; and Yangon, Myanmar.


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