Amor Maclang : Technology as a national advocacy focus

Published February 10, 2021, 10:29 AM

by Jonathan Castillo

Geiser-Maclang gets into higher gear on digital, nascent technologies

Technology, the upgrading of Philippine industries, and the upskilling of the Fiilipino workforce are essential to catapulting the country as a premier player of verticals that are adapting to the Internet of Things (IoT) in the Asian region. The times call for it. Sectors are becoming more reliant on e-commerce platforms, social media, and work-from-home IT solutions in order to survive, and thrive, in the new normal. Fintech (financial tech) leaders have also forecasted that the development of tech hubs and emerging digital-native talents are shifting from the west to the east. 

Technology as an Advocacy for the country. Amor aligns herself with many organizations that put technology at the forefront of all of their initiatives. She is the Chair for Innovation of the European Chamber of Commerce, a board member in the French Chamber of Commerce and Currently the Executive Director and newly elected trustee of the Fintech Philippines Association.

To ensure that the Philippines does capture its place in the rising tech sun, Amor Maclang, the co-founder of Geiser-Maclang Communications Inc. (GMCI), has made technology one of her main national advocacies. Working alongside leaders in both the public and private sectors, she has helped launch Brand Digital Pilipinas, a movement which will fast-track digital transformation for the improvement of the lives of millions of Filipinos. Right now, she wears several hats related to this field:  Executive Director and newly elected trustee of the Fintech Philippines Association (FPH); the Convenor of the World Fintech Festival-Philippines (WFF-PH); a Director of the Philippine Energy Independence Council (PEIC); the Chair for Innovation of the European Chamber of Commerce; and a board member in the French Chamber of Commerce.

At the same time, GMCI gets into higher gear on digital, nascent technologies that will enable public relations and other related communications to reach out to an even wider audience, making their efforts more targeted, and the results more measurable. Ms. Maclang shares her thoughts on a more “teched-up” landscape of the Philippines, a transformation that is gaining traction—just as GMCI is celebrating its 21st anniversary.

Q:  You’ve been in the PR and marketing space for a long time. Tell us more about the evolution that you see it undergoing.

What we are calling digital PR is data-driven. It  can target the specific audience you want to reach, and make your brand’s message stand out. Analytics and other digital marketing tools measure the effectiveness of every message and post sent—as well as the impact of the overall campaign. There is no guesswork.  By using the data you gained to create more effective campaigns, digital PR can make your voice rise above the wave of endless voices in the digital sphere. 

Because look at the competition. Everyday, this happens: Each individual receives 300-3000 marketing messages; social media users post at least 1.2 million content pieces;  67M posts are uploaded on Instagram; and Facebook users upload an average of 350 million photos. All that happens in a single day.

Q:  That move addresses the concerns of companies who are facing increasing competition to draw in and engage their audience. Now let’s go to the national level:  improving businesses and enterprises using digital tech. 

Brand Digital Pilipinas is a movement that is using a whole-of-nation, whole-of-government approach to leverage the latest technology to make our cities prosper and our economies improve. This can be done by upgrading what we call the legacy systems, and training our Filipino workforce into the latest tech skills in AI, data analytics, and cloud tech, just to name a few. The digital highway and ICT can interconnect our more-than-7,100-island archipelago, and lay the foundation for smart cities, the rise of the entrepreneur through e-commerce, and more foreign investment coming into our country.

One event we had last year with Huawei Tech put automation and AI-driven tech at the forefront of the digitization of the Philippine economy, and how it can change the landscape of government processes, making the efficient by putting them in the cloud.

Tech Up Pilipinas, another advocacy I launched for the financial services sector, promotes the use of digital payment, e-commerce, and other fintech platforms to help businesses succeed. Then there is Tech Up Transport which, in partnership with the motorcycle taxi service Angkas; we again leveraged on tech to improve the quality of mobility and passenger service. 

I was also part of the team in the Institute of Corporate Directors who worked on virtually bringing the AI robot, Sophia, into the Philippines. Sophia showed that technology should be embraced, not feared. 

But it all starts first with educating our people, especially our industry leaders and  the new generation of talents who will  have to master this tech. That is why we held the 5-day virtual conference, the World Fintech Festival-Philippines, last December. It was the international extension of the Singapore Fintech Festival, one of the highly attended global tech festivals. Talks by legends like Bill Gates, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella were streamed to a global audience. The Philippines also showcased our best fintech practices, cementing our global digital footprint. 

Launching Digital Pilipinas! As part of the closing panel which was broadcasted on the world stage of the World Fintech Festival, Amor is joined by Ernest Cu, president and CEO of Globe (top, left), Sen. Manny Pacquiao, founder of Pac Coin (bottom, left), Sharon Dayoan, CEO and chairman of KPMG Philippines (bottom, middle), and Sopnendu Mohanty, chief fintech officer of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (bottom, right) 

Aside from the discussions, it led to a signing of agreement between the Fintech Philippines Association and Fintech Alliance Philippines collaborating with the government on a unified sandbox that will “tech-up” various verticals in the country.

All these disruptions, like tech and COVID-19, are making crisis management more needed by companies that had previously dismissed it only as a stopgap. But you have seen this trend happening way beforehand and carved a niche in risk and crisis management. What have been the challenges and rewards  in building this particular brand of your business?

My partner and co-founder, Brad Geiser, and I are both internationally certified Enterprise Risk Management professionals. Crisis and risk management take years to learn and master, it means studying closely not just the issues that the company is facing, but everything about it: its core business, operations, its market, its communications campaign—and then crafting the solutions that will not just make them weather that crisis but come out stronger. 

For the longest time, people have thought that crisis and risk management meant keeping quiet and letting the tide blow over when an issue hits; or coming up with more positive messages that will drown out the negative ones. Crisis management means being a partner with your company and all of its stakeholders in this particular journey, cutting to the heart of why that issue rose in the first place, and how you can provide a long-lasting solution that can turn things around. It means active collaboration with allied institutions and the public alike in a strategic approach that will leave a lasting positive impact on the country and the people. 

One successful example is our advising the Department of Health on its COVID-19 response with campaigns like the BIDA Solusyon. We encouraged the Filipino to be the hero in this emergency and protect his loved ones by making the minimum health standards as part of his lifestyle. I’d like to think that, as a result, the Philippines was cited by the New York Times as having one of the best compliance rates in the world.  

You’ve reached your 21st anniversary. Where do Amor Maclang and GMCI go from here?

In the New Normal, we expect that more crises will come, as technology accelerates and as economies and societies change. I advise our clients to see this as an opportunity to be agile and transform, and possibly to reinvent oneself. 

Technology as a national advocacy focus is personally important to me. Because aside from its tremendous economic gains, it can create tech hubs that will bring our best and brightest back home, where they can advance their careers, build businesses, while enjoying a prosperous life with their families. Brand Digital Pilipinas will help us reach that vision; it is our time to shine. 

 
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