Going digital in PH still faces challenges

Posted at 04/07/14 3:12 PM

MANILA - The brick-and-mortar business model is still relevant in the Philippines, since going digital still faces major challenges, executives from broadcast giant ABS-CBN Corp. said in a recent forum.

During “The Philippine Internet Forum: 20 Years," ABS-CBN chief digital officer Donald Patrick Lim said there are still several issues to be considered before going full blast in the digital route.

"The main challenge is access to the Internet,” Lim said during ”The Business of Digital” forum.

ABS-CBN chief digital officer Donald Patrick Lim

At the moment, Lim said there is still a huge need to upgrade the country’s telecommunications network to deliver quality access to the Internet, especially in far-flung areas.

He also stressed that the scale of doing business in the digital world is not yet big enough to bring in the desired revenues for a business organization.

 "When you tell me that you are going to set up an e-commerce website, I would tell you to save your money for a lunch meeting instead because it is not easy to put up such site, considering the current challenges," he said.

Lim said it would be more pragmatic to pursue a combination of the brick-and-mortar and digital business models to enable the company to run efficiently.


Meantime, ABS-CBN Publishing Inc. Head Ernesto Lopez said his publishing unit cannot go full blast on digital since the revenue streams are not enough to create an impact.

With the rapid influx of technologies in the country and the business sector's warm reception, Lopez said he had thought it was the right time to take the digital route.

However, Lopez said the group decided to postpone the plan when they found out in a study that people in their 20s would really like to have a printed version of their books instead of the digital ones.

“The young people still prefer to see their books in the shelf,” he said.

Lopez said the group’s biggest challenge is how to turn the magazine's contents in digital form and generate revenues at the same time.

“We are trying to find ways how to make its content relevant and interesting to our consumers," he said. "For me, this is an interesting struggle because it seems no one has the answer, even from the foreign models that we observed."

Other speakers in the forum were Christopher Mondini, vice president, business engagement, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN); Dennis Valdez, president, PhilWeb Corporation; and, Juan Victor Hernandez, first vice president and head of PLDT ALPHA Enterprise.