COVID-19 has brought with it an accelerated adoption to digital alternatives such as food delivery, online grocer, telemedicine, and telecommuting. Online jobs was among the most searched topics during the first two months of the enhanced community quarantine.
According to the We Are Social April report, internet users in the Philippines and other countries have increased their online activities. Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed said that they are spending more time watching more shows and films on streaming services, 39% are listening to more music on streaming services, and 36% are spending more time on mobile apps in April alone.
Today brick-and-mortar companies offering various products and services - from food to clothing, medicines to medical consultation, home appliances to gym equipment, and insurance coverage among others, are getting adept at using digital payments like GCash, online order platforms and on-demand delivery services. This provides an early glimpse of what the cities of the future could be.
Globe President and CEO Ernest Cu, said he believes it will be easier now to introduce new technological innovations to Filipinos who openly embrace digitalization due to the pandemic. “I think the cities of the future will be fully powered by digital. Filipinos are becoming more open to trying new things. Opportunities in digital are happening and it’s something that we are also exploring,” he said during a recent interview with other captains of the industry.
Cu said he expects more companies to get into on-demand services such as taxi/car hailing services, online grocery shopping, door-to-door delivery, and even entertainment. Likewise, with physical handling of money being viewed as a risk in contracting the virus, many people have started to go cashless in paying for goods and services. This also holds true for telemedicine where people are beginning to see the value in consulting with a doctor within the comforts of their homes at a more affordable price.
Getting consumers to change their habits has always been a challenge ever since Globe introduced the smartphones and went on to offer streaming music and then streaming video. Even GCash, Globe’s e-money product, took 15 years to be accepted as a secure and convenient way of doing transactions. This time, Globe is pushing for telemedicine via KonsultaMD which helps people get 24/7 medical advice from licensed doctors without going to clinics or hospitals.
“We will keep introducing new digital concepts to enhance people’s lives. I think the cycle of adoption and appreciation will be much shorter now given the pandemic. In many ways, the health crisis has given digital transformation a much-needed push. It has been a long process convincing people to adopt digitalization but I think this situation has made them realize that digital does work. It’s not only for millennials or for the young people, it is really for everyone since it provides a certain level of convenience,” said Cu.
However, he pointed out that digitalization also hinges on connectivity. While Globe continues to roll out its infrastructure, there is still a need for many local government units to relax some of their permitting requirements to fast track the building of cellular towers and the laying down of fiber to homes.
“We are investing billions of pesos to connect the rest of the public to the digital world to enable things like working and learning from home and yet, there are so many obstacles along the way. I think it is really incumbent upon our local officials to provide telecom infrastructure to their constituents. Telco is like water or power. It is something that people need and want,” he said.
Globe has a massive spending campaign for 2020, looking to shell out over P60 billion on infrastructure builds to increase capacity and network upgrades around the country. Building the right amount of ICT infrastructure requires recognition from both local and national governments that it is indeed important. As such, collective buy-in across stakeholders and an enabling regulatory environment has to happen.
Globe’s commitment to provide the country with connectivity is aligned with the United Nations Sustainability Goal No. 9 for inclusive and sustainable industrialization together with innovation and infrastructure. As the pandemic reshapes the way people do things, it has become an urgent imperative to help those without access to connectivity so they can partake and reap the benefits of the digital economy.
To know more about Globe, visit www.globe.com.ph.