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Bacolod is 97th Tholons SuperCity

Despite the introduction of new criteria and a change of branding, Bacolod City holds on to the 2017 Tholons Top 100 Super Cities landing in the 97th spot down from its previous year’s ranking at 85th. 

Tholons International introduced innovation, startup ecosystem and digital transformation as new criteria and a key component to define its index for Top 50 Digital Nations and Top 100 Super Cities.The report also outlines Tholons’ perspective on how digital is changing the industry and picking leaders, disruptors and innovators that will define the future of economies and growth markets

In this year’s ranking the Philippines came in third to India and China as Top 50 Digital Nations, considering that it only has five “super” cities compared to India which has fourteen and China with six in the list. Last 2016, the Philippines has a total of nine cities in the list. 

Bacolod information and communications technology (ICT) stakeholders are still thankful but challenged about this development since the decline shows that more efforts need to be done especially in the criteria just introduced. At the same time, the inclusion of Bacolod is the current list positively validates local ICT stakeholders’ efforts towards developing an innovation ecosystem conducive to startups and digital disruptions and to push harder in this direction.

Tracing the history of Bacolod in the Tholons ranking since 2006, the city was only in 2007 that Bacolod appeared in the Tholons radar until 2009. In 2010, Bacolod entered the list for the first time at No. 100. In 2011 and 2012, Bacolod dropped out from the Top 100 list. In 2013 and 2014, the city re-emerged at No. 93 and then took a giant leap in 2015 to No. 86 and moved up one notch higher to No. 85. 

Bacolod-Negros Occidental Federation for Information and Communications Technology (BNEFIT) established in 2007, the same year that Bacolod entered the Tholons radar.

BNEFIT founder and current executive director Jocelle Batapa-Sigue said external rankings like Tholons “keep us on our toes - we cannot rest on our laurels. We have to continuously move forward and in the right direction. There are many factors affecting these movement such as inconsistencies in the commitment of public, private and academic sectors.”

For the last decade, BNEFIT has lead many programs to establish academe-industry collaboration which constantly need the cooperation of the colleges and universities. Batapa-Sigue said “we have to work together and get rid of "kanya-kanya" attitude. Our rigid educational and political systems often impede fruitful collaboration and defeats the process of innovation. Through BNEFIT, we are trying to catalyze among the sectors, provide insights and develop strategies but the developments have been very slow for various reasons. Synergy is still the best strategy. Synergy is the reason why despite our being a provincial location and only a medium-sized city, we have conquered the ICT industry.”

In 2015, BNEFIT proposed the creation of technology business incubation center (TBIC) at the Negros First CyberCenter to support the growth of the startups in the province. Batapa-Sigue believes BNEFIT initiatives and programs through the TBIC to develop more startups which will focus on knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) particularly software development, creative process like animation and game development and healthcare information management (HIM) – has been a big factor for the retention of Bacolod in the 2017 ranking.

From one of the Top 10 Next Wave Cities since 2009, Bacolod was elevated as a Center of Excellence in IT-BPM in 2013 and named as the industry's "beacon" in the 2017 Flare Awards of the IT Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP). 

Batapa-Sigue said “without synergy, we will lose our momentum. If we refuse to think "out-of-the-box" and adopt the innovative culture, looking outwards and preparing our talent pool for the future of jobs - then we will continue to slide down”.

In its 2017 report, the Tholons Services Globalization Index has transformed after a decade of thought leadership. The index evaluates ranks and provides location strategies to countries, governments, multi-lateral agencies, multinational corporations, analysts and investors. Digital is now a critical element in disrupting and transforming industries globally. Technology, Business process management companies and multinational corporations need to align with the stark reality of digital innovation and transformation. 

For the biggest leaders in Services globalization like India, Philippines, East Europe, most of their services will be commoditized.  Digital transformation of clients and them asking for new services like mobility, analytics and cyber security cannot be delivered using the traditional business model. Secondly the undergoing automation of work like applications management, infrastructure support and testing, are reducing or in some cases eliminating the need for manpower. These forces will severely affect the IT service companies, cited by the report. 

Published 7/3/2017 3:15 PM

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