Desperate times call for desperate measures, as the saying goes. But IBM believes otherwise, teaching that people need only to be "smarter" to thrive in this information age.
"The [global crisis] condition we have today requires us to be smarter. The need to be smart is higher in this tough economic times," said Lope Doromal, who serves as chief technologist and a technical adviser for the software group of IBM Philippines.
At an executive media briefing held in the former US naval base in Subic Bay in Olongapo City, Doromal described today's world as being at a "critical inflection point," citing, as example, the meltdown of financial markets which exposed the realities and dangers of highly complex global systems.
However, besides the economic downturn, Doromal reveals that something else is going on that may ultimately have a greater impact on today's business and society.
"The world is becoming smaller and flatter; and the world's infrastructure is becoming more intelligent," he said, referring to infrastructure as the world of buildings, factories, hospitals, roads, pipelines, among others, claiming that these are now all converging.
Doromal added it is not enough that the world is connected economically, technically and socially as there is also a need to infuse intelligence into today's systems and people's working ways.
He noted the economic crisis is just a latest of several jolts as there are now ongoing changes in the global climate, on the environmental and geopolitical issues surrounding energy, on global supply chains for food and medicine, as well as on security following the 9/11 attacks. He attributed all of these to global integration.
Foong Sew Bun, an IBM distinguished engineer, in addressing the ASEAN challenges through IBM's Smarter Planet strategy, has identified "transport, water, people, and healthcare" as the sectors that need technological and innovative support.
Sew Bun said IBM continues to conduct studies on how to improve water quality among troubled ASEAN rivers, healthcare dilemmas such as big ratio difference between doctors and population, traffic congestion problems in key cities, and the shaping of smarter people or so-called "T-Shape Pros" -- referring to individuals with core talents yet skilled and knowledgeable in other fields.
"By T-Shape, we mean a new breed of innovator or adaptive innovators," he said. "The vertical line represents a person's deep ability or real job like business management, while the horizontal one refers to his know-how in other things such as healthcare and technology."
Sew Bun said IBM intends to produce T-Shape professionals through big blue's SSME (Service Science Management Engineering) project, a discipline that brings together scientific understanding, engineering principles, and management practices to design, create, and deliver service systems meant to improve services innovation and quality.
James Velasquez, country general manager of IBM Philippines, announced that IBM is collaborating with the local academe, government and private sectors with the objective of aligning the Smarter Planet initiative to concrete opportunities consistent with the national agenda. Among the areas identified based on these dialogues are: workforce and education, health, agriculture, food, and transportation.
"In the Philippines, we've helped clients succeed in tough times as well as good times. Taking this knowledge, we will collaborate with our clients and partners to convert challenges into opportunities, and to build a Smarter Philippines," Velasquez said. "IBM will be providing high-value, innovative and integrated solutions that allow clients to make intelligent decisions and drive growth using information available in real time."