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Is your business future ready?


Flor G. Tarriela

Flor G. Tarriela



What is the Future of Business? What are the Next-Wave Disruptions and Opportunities?

This was the topic tackled by business leaders at the Economic Forum 2019 with Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala (JAZA) as keynote speaker. He said this issue is something they too are wrestling with. He doesn’t have a crystal ball but to share his thoughts and the Ayala group journey.

The business landscape, he said, is very dynamic especially with the fast pace of technology. No one cannot afford to be simply reactive but need to be “ahead of the herd.” Dismantled companies are those not nimble enough to adapt to the changes. So how does a company adapt to these changes and become agile enough? He stressed the importance of innovation and transformation. Can innovation be systematized as an established corporate function? How do you do it? He said it is important to have an open mind and to speak out, explore willingness to have alternatives at how things are done as well as the ability to take risks.  Ayala Group went to both Shanghai in China and Silicon Valley in the US to view firsthand the East and the West way of doing things. To build an innovation mindset, there is Ayala University and online training. Staffs are actually hungry for training and improving themselves. Innovation must meet customer needs. It is “not a sprint but a marathon.” It is also not carved in stone but need constant refinement, adjustment, and self-reflection. Transformation needs clarity of vision and to stay with the vision which. he says, is not easy.
How will Automation and Artificial Intelligence Impact People, Skills and Management?

This was quite interesting as four competent women tackled the issue. Kristine Romero, Managing Partner of McKinsey & Co. said companies usually act too late and when they do, they don’t even know how much it will disrupt them. So, the time to act is NOW, before it’s too late. Riza Mantaring, MAP President, talked on Defining the Leadership and Management of the Future. She emphasized that what is important for the workforce is critical thinking. This means our educational system should teach kids “to learn how to learn, to teach them how to solve problems and not just memorize facts and figures.” Skills as the New Currency for the Future of Work was the topic of Global Business Solutions VP Susie Lees. On the Up and Coming Gen Z, What Do they Mean to Business? Pauline Fermin, Managing Director of Acumen Strategic Consulting says Gen Z, the 6-23 years olds, are the “ALIENS” entering the workforce and future customer base that business need to consider. With Gen Z, digital and internet are fully integrated with their experience and definition of being. They are highly in touch in expansive borderless world. Transparency and commitment are keys to engaging and retaining Gen Z.

What is the Future of Money? Lito Villanueva, Founding Chairman of FinTech Alliance topic was “he Future of Money, the Benefits of a Cashless Economy.” I recall Lito’s previous presentation that banks is one industry that will be most disrupted. Shivaji Das, Partner of Frost and Sullivan talked on Global Trends and Best Practices for Digital transformationin Banks. “Ouch” was all we can say in our table with PNB Digital Officer Martin Reyes, PNB Director Topper Coronel and former BSP Governor Say Tetangco when reminded what Bill Gates said in 1994: “Banking is essential, Banks are not.” Chief Digital Officer of BPI Noel Santiago’s topic was What Digital Transformation Means to traditional Banks and Vicente de Villa III, Senior Director and FinTech OIC of the BSP, talked about Fortifying the Future of Financial Institutions by being innovative, inte-roperable and resilient.

So, what’s the future of business? There will be no let-up in the accelerating pace of change and technology. We are now all connected and always plugged to the Web. Machines and Artificial Intelligence will be more developed. Business of all sizes needs innovation and critical thinking in the workforce. Our educational system must also adapt to this change. Gen Z and Gen Alpha (6-year-olds and below) are new work entrants and the future consumer base.
Organizations must transform and adapt to “a new world” that we can’t even paint how it will look like. We just know it won’t be like what we know before. It’s not just coming, its already here. The conference was a day well spent and especially if we can get our companies to ACT ASAP before the “future” over ran us.

Flor GozonTarriela is Chairman/Independent Director of Philippine National Bank. She is former Undersecretary of Finance and the First Filipina Vice President of Citibank N.A. She is a FINEX Foundation Trustee and an Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD) Fellow. Contact her at

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