Cebu needs to improve in the areas of digital credentials and skills to move up to the top 10 in the Super Cities of the World list of Tholons, Inc.

Avinash Vashistha, Tholons chairman and chief executive officer (CEO), said Cebu continues to score low in such areas as open innovation, startup culture, cybersecurity, and digital competitiveness.

A Tholons team computed the average scores of the top three and bottom three of the top 20 in the Super Cities list and measured where Cebu fell within the range.

A panel (from L) composed of Jonathan de Luzuriaga, moderator, and resource persons Cebu City Councilor Joy Augustus Young, Symph CEO Dave Overton, Tholons Chair Avinash Vashistha, and Accenture, Inc. Cebu Delivery Center Lead for Technology Arvin Yason discusses Cebu City’s ranking in Super Cities of the World list.

He said Cebu did not fare well in the following areas: 3.5 against a high of 7.2 in digital credentials and 3.8 against a high of 7.14 in quality of life, citing political, social, natural, and commercial risks. Vashistha was one of the speakers of the 2018 Transformation Summit held today, May 16, at Bai Hotel in Mandaue City.

Digital, talent skills

For digital skills and scale, Cebu was in the 4.6 range against the top average score of 8.12. This category looks at the digital talent and evolution of a particular place, also taking into consideration as well the prevalence of mobile and Internet users and patent grants for technology ideas or products.

“All industry in the future will be technology-enabled. We can’t ignore the impact of digital because it is transforming the way business is done,” Vashistha added.

When Cebu thinks about what it needs to do in the area of digital, it has to look at the examples set by Singapore and Seoul. Tholons ranks the two cities as among the top 25 digitally competitive cities throughout the globe.

Compared against the average high score of 8.9, Cebu’s ranking of 6 for talent skills and quality could do with some improvement, according to Vashistha. Cebu rose to seventh place in the list of best outsourcing sites but fell to 12th place in 2017 when Tholons added new digital categories.

New tech opportunities

2018 Transformation Summit Speaker Avinash Vashistha, Tholons, Inc. chair and CEO, talks about what it takes to be part of the top Super Cities of the World list.

He added that Cebu should also focus on the opportunities instead of threats posed by digital disruptions, citing that trillions of dollars in new technology investments from 2013-2022 will result in the creation of more than 200 million jobs. India and the Philippines currently hold close to 5 million jobs in the IT-BPM industry.

These jobs will come in bulk from three main areas, including robotic process automation, big data analytics, and mobile app testing.

Vashistha said during the summit that digital shifts will also require upskilling and reskilling the industry workforce. Degree programs must also include cultivating the culture of innovation in universities through innovation labs and partnerships with industry stakeholders. Other ways will involve utilizing digital media for Cebu’s branding initiatives and collaborating with a global network of startups through mentorship programs.

The 2018 Transformation Summit is organized by the Cebu IT BPM Organization (CIB.O) in partnership with the Cebu City Government and Sykes. Other sponsors include Accenture, Lexmark, and Cognizant.

Marlen is the editor of and co-founder of Cebu-based journalism startup InnoPub Media.

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