Philippines: Onwards and upwards

High profile projects such as the City of Dreams Manila and the Philippine Arena have brought the Philippines into prominence where pro AV is concerned. Hurrairah bin Sohail takes a closer look at the market and possible avenues for growth.

In recent times the Philippines has stepped into the limelight, not only in Asia but on an international stage, as a country with a number of large scale projects and a booming pro AV market. Perhaps the most well-known project currently being undertaken is the City of Dreams Manila which is a casino, hotel, retail and entertainment resort all rolled into one, along the lines of the already established City of Dreams Macau.

The growth of the pro AV sector in the Philippines was kickstarted a while back, with the arrival of Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) units moving to the country. Adeline Ang vice president for sales and marketing at Microdata Systems and Management, a prominent system integrator in the Philippines, said: “The first wave of projects was the BPOs and the call centers. They set up maybe five to six years ago. Now companies like Accenture, Teletech and Convergys have been in the Philippines for a while.”

With regards to what prompted the influx and what makes the Philippines so attractive to corporations she said, “I think the reason they are moving here is because the labor is less expensive in the Philippines. And besides that, we have one of the highest levels of English proficiency in the region. Our accent is also deemed to not be as severe as that of our Asian counterparts.” She further explained the Philippines’ proficiency with the English language: “The education system, both private and public, uses English as a major communication tool.”

Her insight is backed up by the statistics. In a survey that tested non-native English speakers, conducted by Global English in 2013, the Philippines ranked as number one for proficiency in English for the purpose of business coming in ahead of other Asian countries such as Singapore, India and Indonesia.

Microdata Systems and Management itself was established in 1980 and started life as a distributor for imaging solutions ranging from film-based micrographics to electronics imaging systems. As the company grew it widened its range of products to audio-visual solutions and added system integration capabilities to service its growing clientele.

A look at the integration work undertaken by Microdata in the recent past provides a good snapshot of the state of the pro AV market in the Philippines. After the initial surge, Ang said that the growth in the corporate sector had slowed. “I haven’t heard of any new projects [in the corporate sector] except for maybe just in terms of clients upgrading their existing systems or maybe building another office. But nothing on the scale of opening up new headquarters.”

Fortunately, there are ample opportunities for system integrators in other verticals right now and for the foreseeable future according to Ang. She said: “Definitely, the potential for growth in the Philippines is there. I see the market to keep growing for maybe the next five years.”

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