People, tech at the heart of Aboitiz Group’s great transformation | Inquirer Business

People, tech at the heart of Aboitiz Group’s great transformation

/ 08:00 AM October 23, 2022

As a leader in the industries of energy, banking and financial services, food, construction, infrastructure, and  real estate, the Aboitiz Group has mastered the art of reinvention—after all, few family-run conglomerates have lasted as long as they have, thriving for more than a century.

Their latest transformation, from conglomerate to “techglomerate,” is now largely driven by what is considered today’s most precious currency: data. As the Aboitiz Group embarks on its “Great Transformation” journey, the organization is able to operationalize Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (DSAI) across all its business units through Aboitiz Data Innovation (ADI), working smarter to deliver better products and services to their customers and stakeholders in a sustainable manner.

Gateway to the future. Aboitiz Data Innovation is harnessing DSAI across the Aboitiz Group to provide innovative solutions for all to leverage on. With sister firm Aboitiz InfraCapital, they are set to revolutionize travel and tourism with a ‘smart’ Mactan airport. That is only the surface of what the Great Transformation of Aboitiz has to offer as they become the Philippines’ first Techglomerate.

“The Great Transformation is a stronger, faster, better, and more innovative way of delivering our promise of advancing business and communities. We are acknowledging the increasingly expanding role DSAI will play in every facet of human life, and we are adapting to that now,” says Aboitiz Group President and CEO, Mr. Sabin M. Aboitiz.

Overall, ADI’s chief responsibility is to transform data into business outcomes, use information to make better decisions, reinvent business models, and develop high-value solutions to create new processes, products, and services. These directions are driven by these three key aspects: People; Technology; and Operationalizaton.


“After just over a year of operations, our key ingredients for success are investing in people, identifying the most appropriate DSAI solution for a specific problem, and operationalizing these solutions to accelerate impact,” notes Dr. David R. Hardoon, ADI Chief Executive Officer.

Culture drives innovation

For any organization to get started on its digital transformation, Hardoon says the most critical component lies within its human talent—specifically, its culture of innovation and having a data-driven mindset.

Aboitiz Group

Data points and data people. Team members of Aboitiz Data Innovation at the Aboitiz office, fostering a culture of innovation and data-driven mindset. Transformed A-people are constantly challenging themselves to learn more and think outside the box.

“Organizations must double down on agility and become comfortable with the unknown”, says Hardoon. “At the core of this lies the need to constantly upskill teams to help them open up to the possibilities of these changes. The biggest challenge to creating a data-driven organization remains cultural, not technical.”

Aside from building that culture, ADI bridges skills gaps through skills training programs, allowing them to create a community of innovators. Real-world projects are then given to employees to let them experiment with their newly learned skills. One such training was on Data Science Upskilling, conducted by SN Aboitiz Power Group in collaboration with ADI, which helped equip the former’s teams with all the necessary data science skills like data visualization. Hardoon says this gave them a better understanding of the business implications of a data strategy, enabled them to communicate better with language and decisions anchored in data, and also helped them formulate DSAI solutions for specific business problems.

Operationalizing DSAI

As they continue to consistently build a culture driven by data and innovation, the Aboitiz Group becomes better-poised to operationalize disruptive technologies like DSAI. According to Hardoon, the possibilities are limitless when it comes to the applications of DSAI.

Of course, to fully maximize its data-driven innovation plans, it is also critical to unlock ecosystems across the entire Aboitiz Group, sectors, and borders–prompting ADI to launch Parlay, a data exchange platform designed to unlock and synergize Aboitiz and its partners’ ecosystems. Through Parlay, businesses and governments can easily and securely share and access valuable data across industries, sectors, and borders to build high-value data products and Data Science and AI solutions.

“Adding value to the Group’s techglomerate premium, Parlay will provide easy access and sharing of vast, varied, and valuable data resources across the Group’s entire ecosystem,” Hardoon says. “In our mission to advance business and communities, we would like our partners to leverage this platform to accelerate their business, environmental, social, and governance goals.

Ultimately, ADI’s goal is to offer organizations across industries tried and tested DSAI frameworks and solutions that will benefit both their business and customers.

Meaningful transformation

While the Aboitiz Group is well on its way to becoming the Philippines’ first techglomerate, the organization welcomes the idea of this being replicated to advance the nation’s industries and communities.

Networks. Building on from the success Aboitiz Data Innovation has found incorporating DSAI solutions across the Aboitiz business units, the organization is set to work with partners to revolutionize industries like logistics, travel and tourism, and smart cities.

“The Aboitiz Group’s Great Transformation is to become the Philippines’ first techglomerate, not the Philippines’ only techglomerate,” emphasizes Aboitiz. “All other conglomerates will inevitably become techglomerates whether they choose to call it that or not. Even the government will eventually have to be a ‘tech-government’ dependent on DSAI in order to function properly in today’s world,” he continues.

Aboitiz is simply leading the way in all this for other businesses and sectors to follow. The techglomerate is leading by example, by being bold and brave enough to embrace a future many may find intimidating. If they can set the tone and pace for this future, organizations can all work together to transform the country’s economy and finally put the Philippines on the competitive map.

ADI—anchored on people, technology, and operationalization—is the Group’s first major step in becoming a techglomerate. ADI has been agile and flexible in scaling its DSAI solutions across Aboitiz business units to make a difference for its customers and stakeholders. It further plans to scale its DSAI solutions to other industries like logistics, travel and tourism, and smart cities by working with external partners.

“The nexus of people, technology, and operationalization is paramount to delivering results for both people and the planet,” says Hardoon. “Leveraging and operationalizing advanced technologies like DSAI will allow us to introduce out-of-the-box ideas in addressing real-world challenges, explore new opportunities, and challenge the status quo.”


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