DIGITAL adoption has been the primary trend for businesses since the pandemic restricted mobility nearly two years ago. The online marketplaces have seen more frequent buyers now as consumers protect themselves from Covid-19 exposure, thus supporting the growing digital economy.
This trend has not only been observed among big corporations but with micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as well, turning to digital platforms to cater to customers. According to a study by Meta (formerly known as Facebook), 88 percent of the surveyed small and medium-sized businesses claimed they are using digital tools for operations.
The Philippines and the rest of the Asia Pacific region are expected to be at the forefront of this development. “Asia Pacific has always been at the front end of so many of the digital adoption areas. We’re seeing it play itself out,” Meta APAC Vice President Dan Neary said.
In fact, Neary said the metaverse is ripe for business opportunities in the region, especially for MSMEs. Metaverse refers to virtual spaces where people from different parts of the world can meet and explore.
“We believe that the metaverse will be the single biggest opportunity for modern business since the creation of the Internet,” he claimed. “This is the next evolution of digital platforms.”
With further reach of digital platforms, Meta is seeing new trends that will define the online space next year.
One of them is virtual and augmented reality (AR), Neary shared. Historically, he said this technology is just for the gaming industry, but the Meta official said it is being used now in virtual workspace and other immersive features already.
“We now have more than 600,000 creators that have published more than 2.5 million effects on our platform. Also, we have 700 million people that are using AR effects across Facebook apps and devices every single month,” he shared.
Business messaging, which refers to responding to customer queries, is also key moving forward for businesses. Meta observed that 500 million people are reaching out to businesses in any given day via messaging features across all its platforms.
Its study shows that the majority or two-thirds of the adults want to be able to connect with the businesses in the same way they reach out to their friends via messaging apps.
“Nobody wants anymore to spend their lifetime on hold,” Neary said, noting it impacts customer service as well.
Another trend is Mega Sales Days, which are characterized by the monthly offering of discounts. He explained this has become “very big cultural and entertainment moments and it’s critical that businesses are able to participate in this.”
Neary also expects businesses to team up with creators in promoting their brands in the digital space.
“It’s a trend that we and others are building quite heavily for, but it is also existing. It has a lot of traction in terms of how businesses are using them,” he explained.
Lastly, the Meta official cited videos as a trend for next year, expecting it to drive engagement on social media platforms for businesses. He said companies can utilize them to tell their stories.
Establishing a norm
The trends projected by Meta are parallel with the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) forecast that digital will be “normal” even after the pandemic.
“Although the pandemic has caused global economic downturn and disruption, it has also been an impetus for enterprises to pursue digital transformation all over the world,” DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said.
As such, the trade official said consumers expect “greater convenience and control over transactions” moving forward.
On the part of businesses, Lopez said they are keen on establishing high-technology and interconnected value chains amid the growing number of startups.
The Philippines’s economy may reach P5 trillion by 2030—equivalent to 27 percent of the country’s gross domestic products (GDP) last year, according to a study by global strategy and economic advisory firm AlphaBeta.
Bulk or P3.5 trillion of these digital opportunities are driven by technologies that aid the public amid the pandemic. These include facilitation of customer interactions, transactions and marketing through digital platforms; implementation of hybrid work arrangements as part of a business continuity plan; and digitalization of supply chains amid the prolonged global delays.