The Development Academy of the Philippines, as the country’s focal organization for the Asian Productivity Organization’s Center of Excellence on Public-Sector Productivity (COE PSP), held a three-day webinar on Digital Transformation for Enhancing Public Sector Productivity on 5-7 October 2022. This webinar series aimed to provide the participants with an understanding of digital transformation and the different ways to strengthen government digital services to enhance productivity in the public sector. Two government digital initiatives were presented on the last day of the series.

Understanding digital transformation

Mr. Rey Lugtu of the Hungry Workhorse, explained that digital transformation is an integrated, cohesive, and strategic way of transforming the whole organization. He added that digital transformation is a set of strategic actions to accelerate businesses, practices, processes, competencies, and models by fully leveraging on the changes and opportunities of digital technologies and their impact in a strategic and prioritized way, it is not merely changing one component of an organization but the whole of the organization.

Mr. Rey Lugtu of the Hungry Workhorse explains the concept of digital transformation.

In talking about the organization, a Digital Transformation Framework is observed to define the organization in these major components: the operations and business models, the offering (product performance and systems), the customers, and culture and people. Once these components are understood, capabilities to build will be recognized. Only then digital technologies can be identified and applied to achieve digital transformation.

Responding to one of the questions raised during the webinar, Mr. Lugtu said, “We can’t simplify the process, it is what it is… If we look at digital transformation in a simplistic manner, you will invest in technology without reaping the rewards of that technology. It is something we cannot do haphazardly. It has to be done methodically, deliberately; it has to be well-planned.”

Strengthening government digital services

Dr. Erika Fille Legara, a data scientist and professor at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), emphasized that we are in the fourth industrial revolution where the cyber or digital system marries the physical system. She added that the government needs to invest and digitalize its services. Proper use of technology would help the government create public value through efficient and accessible digital services. The public can be assured of efficient distribution of financial assistance by government institutions given the right data. Greater transparency and inclusivity will also be ensured by going digital.

Dr. Erika Fille Legara discusses how government public services can be more enhanced and transformed with data and digital technology.

Looking into the Philippine Digital Strategy Vision, Dr. Legara highlighted some key points that the government is improving to strengthen digital transformation in the country. As the bedrock of digitalization [and artificial intelligence], the government is building up its digital infrastructure  to be reliable, robust, scalable, and accessible.

In her discussion, Dr. Legara said “every Filipino and every government office must have an internet connection.” She noted that the internet today is no longer a luxury but a necessity. Dr. Legara, however, mentioned that the government must ensure that its citizens are protected and secured in the cyberspace should it decide to open its systems and data to the world wide web.

Another key aspect of the government’s strategy discussed during the session is digital literacy. Dr. Legara emphasized that the government must partner with the industry and the academe to promote digital and data literacy for all. She added that Filipinos should be taught how to behave online to be safe, and how to make advantage of the internet to learn more and identify misinformation. Lastly, she noted that learning and development programs on data and technology must be provided to government employees as well.

Pioneering digital transformation initiatives in the public sector 

For the third day of the series, two successful digital initiatives in the government were presented: Digitize Dulag (Digi-Du) of Dulag, Leyte which won the “Best in eGOV Data-Driven Governance” (D2G) category of the Digital Governance Awards (DGA) in 2019, and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) Digital Transformation in Financial Services.

Hon. Mildred Que, with her team (bottom photo at the right), explains Dulag’s successfully implemented digitization project called Digitize Dulag.

Hon. Mildred Joy Que, a lawyer and the incumbent mayor of Dulag, Leyte, presented on their municipality’s fully-integrated computerization project. Digitize Dulag by the Municipal Government of Dulag, Leyte was developed to intensify transparency, accountability, and internal control in different aspects of their local government’s functions. Built with an online office software, Digi-Du is a comprehensive system that utilizes information and communication technology and data science. It has helped enhance the local government’s system for collection and payment of taxes, disbursement of payroll, and application for permits such as business permits. 

From the Technology Risk and Innovation Supervision Department of BSP, Director Melchor Plabasan first expounded the core mandates of BSP that aim for price stability, financial stability, and efficient payment systems. He also discussed BSP’s advocacies, including financial inclusion.  In advocating for financial inclusion, BSP wants every adult Filipino to “have access to safe, convenient, and affordable financial services and own a transaction account that he/she can use on a day-to-day basis.”

BSP is developing its programs to expand to micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and startups by building a sustainable and more vibrant financing ecosystem. There have also been initiatives to establish credit infrastructure and standardize business loan applications to make it easier for the stakeholders.

Director Melchor Plabasan, speaking for the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, discusses the agency’s advocacy for financial inclusion.

BSP’s 2021 data revealed that there was an increase in ownership of financial accounts, and a shift in the people’s reference on mode of payment due to the pandemic restrictions. About 60% of the country’s population now uses digital and online channels for payment or money transfers. To further democratize financial accounts, BSP has made possible the creation of basic e-money accounts for financial institutions that would only need a few requirements.

The participants raised concerns on data privacy and security during the webinar. Dir. Plabasan mentioned that the government is in efforts to promote digital literacy to the public and conducts programs to strengthen financial education and consumer protection in the country. He also stressed the necessity for the policy on SIM card registration to be implemented.

This webinar series is available for replay on Facebook and YouTube. Stay tuned for more webinar series in the coming months.