Smart Nominated in All Four Categories in the 2020 Asia Communication Awards

Published November 27, 2020, 5:29 PM

by Len Amadora

Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) is shortlisted in all four categories that it entered in this year’s Asia Communication Awards (ACA).

Launched in 2011 by London-based industry publication Total Telecom, ACA recognizes the region’s leading communication service providers and telecom operators.

The wireless subsidiary of the Philippines’ leading integrated telecommunications company PLDT Inc. (PLDT) is nominated under ACA’s Crisis Response category for its #StaySmart COVID-19 Response Program, Best Network Transformation Initiative, Best Social Contribution for Digital Farmers Program, and CEO of the Year for Smart President and Chief Executive Officer Alfredo S. Panlilio.

Connecting Filipinos amid the pandemic

Under the #StaySmart COVID-19 Response Program, Smart stepped up efforts to keep customers, partners and frontliners safe and connected. “By providing reliable and relevant digital services, Smart helped Filipinos keep in touch, stay informed, protected and productive, whether they are at home, at work, or at the frontlines amid this health crisis,” Panlilio says.

Smart worked with local government units to roll out mobile stores in areas affected by community quarantines at the onset of the pandemic. This allowed prepaid subscribers to reload their phones and purchase data bundles for their broadband devices whenever mobile markets were rolled out by the city LGU. The service likewise provided sustained livelihood opportunities for Smart’s sales partners.

To help ease the financial burden of its customers during the COVID crisis, Smart implemented a six-month installment payment program for the outstanding monthly bills of its postpaid subscribers, with 0% interest and no penalties.

Subscribers were likewise encouraged to use cashless transactions and self-care services, to help prevent the spread of the virus. More importantly, the public was encouraged to use online payment services to purchase products and devices, and to pay bills via Smart’s official online channels.

Future-proofing the network

Smart’s readiness amid the COVID-19 pandemic was made possible through the company’s massive network modernization program in 2019, nominated under ACA’s Network Transformation Initiative.

“Fortunately and quite providentially, in 2019 before the pandemic hit, we set out strategic imperatives to future-proof PLDT and Smart. Our most pivotal initiative has been our unrelenting efforts to build the country’s most extensive and advanced digital infrastructure,” Panlilio explains.

PLDT and Smart continue to invest in expanding the capacity and reach of their fixed and mobile networks, and a significant portion of this multi-billion, multi-year investment has been devoted to the transformation of its transport network—one that is free of legacy technology, free of congestion, and designed for peak throughput.

Promoting digital inclusion

The automated architecture of the network has allowed PLDT and Smart to manage traffic congestion, minimize network outages, and launch new services and programs faster.

Among the programs powered by PLDT-Smart’s network is the Digital Farmers Program (DFP). A collaboration between Smart, the Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Training Institute (DA-ATI), and local government units nationwide, DFP aims to expedite the Philippine agriculture sector’s adoption and use of innovative means of farming. This is through a series of capacity-building trainings on ICT for farmers– starting from basic digital tools such as social media to more complex services such as e-commerce and online payment systems.

Helping address the digital skills gap in agriculture, its aspiration is to act as a springboard to the Philippine government’s long-term vision of Internet of Things penetration in the field—and overall digital inclusion.

Valuing customer centricity

All programs shortlisted by Total Telecom for 2020 were implemented under the leadership of Panlilio, who is in the running for ACA’s CEO of the Year.

As concurrent Chief Revenue Officer of PLDT, Panlilio leads the group’s transformation journey, guided by a focus on customer experience – valuing customer centricity above all else. Panlilio’s corporate direction entails the alignment of Smart’s brand promise with the delivery of customer and employee experience.

This shift in leadership priority emphasizes that along with the pursuit of operational excellence and advance digital technology, world-class customer service is one of the three strategic imperatives to future-proof the business.