On the Cusp of a Great Transformation
A mong all the successful conglomerates in the Philippines, the Aboitiz Group undoubtedly has one of the richest histories, operating for over a century and expanding successfully from an abaca trading and general merchandise business in the late 1800s to one of the largest diversified firms in the country today.
But its past is not the reason why there is so much excitement surrounding the group these days. It’s the future. Aboitiz is now well underway on its ‘Great Transformation’, a bold corporate move to put innovation at the forefront of its growth strategy and will usher the firm’s transition to becoming a ‘techglomerate’ , or a conglomerate that heavily integrates technology and design thinking in all its production, services, and processes.
Aboitiz Group President and Chief Executive Officer Sabin M. Aboitiz explained that the Great Transformation, which will reinvent the group as a start-up-style conglomerate, will be primarily driven by its people through a cultural revolution that aims to combine the vast potential of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (DSAI) with a deeply curious appetite for knowledge and self-improvement. The result being a much more agile and advanced organization made up of team members who are both highly skilled and personally fulfilled.
“Our Great Transformation into a techglomerate driven by transformed Aboitiz team members – our A-People – will propel our company to the frontlines of modern innovation and beyond, in order to ensure and accelerate our continued growth and success, and to advance business and communities faster, better, and stronger than we ever did in the past or could have ever imagined for the future,” Aboitiz said.
To do this, the company is investing in exponential growth initiatives, a fresh entrepreneurial mindset, and the hypergrowth of its team members via an enabling, exciting, and inclusive work environment. The group is carefully selecting practices and philosophies from Big Tech that would translate well in the context of their own business goals as a Philippine conglomerate, to the point of potentially redefining what that actually means.
On becoming the first Philippine techglomerate
Mr. Aboitiz believes that as a techglomerate, the group has a greater responsibility to uplift its own people and the communities they live in and serve – including 20 million customers and counting – by constantly improving their experience of life and work. He consistently stresses that while tech plays a major role, people empowerment and open minds are the key to unlocking a techglomerate’s true potential.
Hoping to instill and inspire a groupwide entrepreneurial spirit, Mr. Aboitiz has launched a galvanizing campaign with a powerful message: that every single member of the group’s workforce plays a vital role in creating something groundbreaking and game-changing for its stakeholders. “A big part of what makes a techglomerate team member is belief. Belief in new and better ideas, belief in a larger purpose, but most importantly, belief in themselves as individuals,” Mr. Aboitiz further said.
Putting the company’s money where his mouth is, Mr. Aboitiz himself approved a nearly 40 million peso budget for all team members to conduct their own innovation experiments either individually or in collaboration with others.
Now bolstered by Aboitiz Data Innovation (ADI), the Group’s new tech startup, innovations of all shapes and sizes have rapidly accelerated across all the business units of the Group, namely AboitizPower, UnionBank, Aboitiz InfraCapital (AIC), Aboitiz Construction, AboitizLand, Pilmico Foods and Gold Coin, and Aboitiz Foundation.
Across these businesses, Aboitiz has managed to minimize environmental impact through innovation and other sustainability efforts – producing 1,249 megawatts of renewable energy, emitting 0.06 carbon productivity, recycling 4,344 tons of waste, and planting as much as 12 million trees.
AboitizPower – a vertically integrated company engaged in power generation, distribution, and energy supply, and one of the largest private power producers in the Philippines – is currently optimizing energy storage for battery systems, predicting boiler tube leaks in thermal power plants, managing grid risks from vegetation, and improving customer service and account management through data science and artificial intelligence (DSAI). The ultimate goal is to fully exploit the latest technology to bring down electricity costs for consumers.
All these techglomerate efforts and more are folded under AP’s Data Innovation Program, which aims to produce more insight-driven decisions and actions, in line with its mission of delivering reliable, cost-efficient, and environmentally sustainable energy solutions.
On innovations in the banking sector, the Aboitiz Group has always been the leader thanks to UnionBank’s early and aggressive digitalization. Consistently setting the bar for customer experience, the bank continues to expand its self-service and mobile-first banking services through its retail financial platform, UnionBank Online.
Their recent acquisition of Citigroup’s consumer banking business in the Philippines further strengthens the Aboitiz Group’s techglomerate position as it sets the stage for more advanced credit card services through the bank’s ‘Super App’.
Following UnionBank and AP’s lead on the Great Transformation are Aboitiz InfraCapital, the Food Group, AboitizLand, and Aboitiz Construction, who are all undergoing their own transformations centered, among other things, on culture, automation, sustainability, digitalization, capacity building, and DSAI.
These changes are happening with the help of ADI, the DSAI arm of the Group that serves as the techglomerate’s de facto nerve center.
Established in 2021, ADI is breaking new ground for the Group by exploring and expanding possibilities, and demonstrating what can be achieved when DSAI is operationalized and synergized across all business units.
This year, ADI will boost its efforts through the upskilling of more Aboitiz team members in data science and the exploration of more models for hyper-personalization across industries.
“Because at the end of the day,” Aboitiz concludes, “this Great Transformation is driven by people and for people. The success of our company as a whole depends on the success of our team members as individuals. That’s the techglomerate formula.” #