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Capitalize on artificial intelligence, local firms told


PHILIPPINE companies should take advantage of artificial intelligence (AI) to benefit industries such as retail and outsourcing, according to an industry expert. 

“In the Philippines, AI is going to replace jobs. So, let’s accept that. The Philippines should become the country that leads the world in how to use AI, in call centers, recognizing that it will put some people out of work, but at least you define the rules of how it works with people,” Asia School of Business (ASB) President, Chief Executive Officer, and Dean Sanjay Sarma said during a media roundtable in Makati City last week.

“It has to be a national effort. The government needs to be really cognizant that this is an epic moment. It’s like, climate change is going to damage the environment, it’ll hurt a lot of people. This is ‘technology change,’ just like climate change,” he added.

According to Mr. Sarma, industries that could benefit from AI in generating profit include those in the service sectors such as banking, retail, and customer service.

“We spend a lot of time talking, trying to figure things out. AI can automate that,” he said.

Mr. Sarma added that companies only have one to two years to upskill their workers before AI replaces other jobs.

“It’s not very long. It’s one or two years. The reason is that for these transforming technologies, there are now lots of companies working. And there’s hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on it,” Mr. Sarma said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Sarma said workers should focus on upskilling to perform jobs that technology cannot accomplish such as planning and dispute resolution.

“You have to really figure out what the technology can do and what humans can do, and what technology can’t do. And to develop human capital in those directions,” Mr. Sarma said.

“It takes a very careful analysis of the local labor economy. Combined with a very careful analysis of the needs of companies and education or development, put policy incentives, institutions, to let people move from where they are to where they need to be,” he added.

Recently, the International Data Corp. said the Philippines ranked 12th out of 14 economies across the Asia-Pacific region in terms of AI adoption for business and consumer transactions. 

The Philippines trailed other countries such as China, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Singapore, India, Taiwan, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Thailand.

Previously, the Trade department projected that AI could contribute as much as $90 billion to the country’s economy by 2030.

ASB, established in 2015 by Bank Negara Malaysia in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management, seeks to be a premier business school that is committed to “developing transformative and principled leaders who will create a positive impact in the emerging world and beyond.” — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

Neil Banzuelo

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