PH software sector wants more AI-led outputs to hit $5-B target

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By Tom Noda

The Philippine Software Industry Association (PSIA) is targeting to create more software that use artificial intelligence (AI) technology ? something similar to Google — to allow the industry to reach its target revenues of $5 billion by 2016.

PSIA president Joey Gurango (left) and ICT Office deputy executive director Monchito Ibrahim during the Softcon.ph press briefing

Joey Gurango, president of PSIA, said they are continuously supporting Filipino software entrepreneurs ? through its Software PRoducts Incubation Group (Spring.ph) ? in order to create and sell software products that address the so-called four megatrends — cloud, mobile, social, and Big Data.

With PSIA’s target of having 50 software product teams by 2016, Gurango said they have so far chosen and are guiding 14 startups who are in the process of polishing their created outputs that somewhat have AI functions, much like search engine giant Google which is also identified as an AI company.

AI is a branch of computer science aimed at making machines and software to work smarter.

The software products of the 14 Filipino startups were showcased at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City on Thursday, Oct. 10, during the launch of the first software conference in the country dubbed “Softcon.ph”.

“We support them in their aspirations to become the next Facebook or the next Google or even the next Angry Birds,” Gurango said.

Gurango said Spring.ph conducts screening events called LaunchPad every three months where 15 to 20 teams are expected to join but only half of it will be chosen to go through incubation.

Gurango said besides software engineering and computer science, a lot of slots are available to students and graduates of other disciplines like art, social sciences, and business to join Spring.ph’s LaunchPad.

He added all kinds of software product development are encouraged during a LaunchPad events including computer games.

Gurango said PSIA hopes to have the targeted 50 product teams and come up with at least 10 software products by 2016 that would each rake in $1 million in yearly revenues.

Gurango said the Philippine software industry has contributed $1.16 billion in foreign revenues to the country?s gross domestic product and about 60,000 full-time employees (FTEs) since 2012.

Export revenues were up 17 percent since 2012 while the FTE figures improved 14 percent from last year.

And with $3.84 billion to go to complete the $5 billion target by 2016, Gurango stressed “PSIA is right on track.”

Software products

Some of the promising software products by the Filipino startups included monitoring and queuing solutions, as well as iOS apps for autistic children to help develop their skills.

“Two of the 14 software product teams are already being courted by investors,” Gurango said.

As a monitoring tool, a cloud-based platform called Orchestrak was developed to cater for agencies, advertisers, and broadcasters to monitor and analyze actual airing profile, competition placements, and expenditures. It offers automated broadcast media monitoring for advertising on radio, TV and streaming media.

And for the queuing system, a mobile application called WaitLifter gives people a leeway to go elsewhere while waiting in line without worrying of losing their turn.

The WaitLifter works when a secretary enters the customer’s name and mobile number into the system which calculates the estimated waiting time allowing the customer to plan his return. Finally, the system sends an automated SMS notifying the customer when his turn is near.

Meanwhile, with the goal of teaching children with special needs, a mobile application called Tom Taps was developed to contain activities and tools to aid and help encourage learning for autistic children.

Some of the features of Tom Taps include the communication tool, scheduler board, therapeutic tool, and learning games.

Another monitoring tool is the mobile application named VehicleOne, which is designed to improve delivery staff productivity. It can be installed in iOS and Android devices and provides real-time geographical location tracking for vehicles and status monitoring, thus helping improve business efficiency and productivity.

Gurango said PSIA is working with educational institutions to help them include in their curriculum requirements the skills and knowledge coming from services of the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry.

He added the Philippines remains to be number one in voice services but only comes second or third on software products dominated by India.

“India has one billion population and they produce a lot more software engineers,” Gurango said.

He noted that there are currently 400 to 600 software firms in the Philippines composed of multinationals, locals, and captives.

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