Embracing science and technology is key to a better, more resilient normal.
Ayala Corp. Chairman and CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala gave this message in his keynote address at the 42nd Annual Scientific Meeting of the National Academy of Science and Technology that was held virtually on July 9.
Zobel emphasized the importance of strengthening the ties among science, industry and government in finding long-term solutions to address the country’s most pressing challenges.
He cited Task Force T3 (Test, Trace and Treat), which aims to expand the country’s reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction in Covid-19 testing capacity, as an example of a highly successful public-private partnership model which may be applied in other areas.
Ayala’s contribution to the Task Force T3 includes the conversion of the World Trade Center into a 502-bed quarantine facility and donation of swabbing booths for all four Mega Swabbing Centers.
In addition, together with other private companies, Ayala has built and capacitated seven Biosafety Level 2 Laboratories across the country to augment the national Covid-19 testing capacity which has now reached almost 75,000 tests per day.
“I am a firm believer in the power of co-creation and collaboration. Let’s reimagine the world we live in and the way things are using this crisis as a way of refashioning the way we live. I believe that the sciences and the science-based approach has a lot to teach us in that regard,” Zobel said.
On education, Ayala believes that the current shift to distance learning may become an integral part of the Philippine education system given its many benefits for both students and teachers.
Ayala Corp. itself has also explored online learning platforms, such as Coursera and Degreed, to maintain a high level of productivity and engagement within its workforce a significant number of whom continue to work from home.
Zobel also emphasized the importance of data and insights in understanding and developing solutions to the long-standing societal problems the country faces today.
He shared that the Ayala group regularly gathers data from across its different business units to better understand evolving consumer behaviors and needs, thus allowing it to provide improved services and relevant products.
He gave as example that with the rising demand for digital platforms for the delivery of basic goods and services, Ayala’s AC Healthcare Holdings (AC Health) penetrated the telemedicine space through HealthNow, an all-in-one digital platform developed in partnership with Globe 917 Ventures.
This digital platform serves as an alternative channel for patients to access primary healthcare without leaving the safety of their homes.
During its April to June pilot run alone, the platform had over 11,000 patient consultation requests with the top specialization requests covering family medicine; dermatology; obstetrics and gynecology; and ear, nose and throat concerns.
Zobel also noted that the community quarantine caused by the coronavirus pandemic brought on a significant increase in consumer engagement on digital financial apps, such as Globe’s GCash and BPI’s mobile banking app.
From March to June, GCash experienced a 138 percent increase in daily active users and 157 percent jump in daily active transactions.
Transactions on the BPI mobile banking app, on the other hand, accounted for 90 percent of all bank transactions as of mid-April compared to only 70 percent prior to the quarantine.
He said the digitalization of its financial services has been the main driver of Ayala’s efforts to promote financial inclusion across a broader demographic particularly the unserved and underserved segments of the population.