artificial intelligence

Tech experts in Cebu: Use AI to save on business costs

John Sitchon

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Tech experts in Cebu: Use AI to save on business costs

#IT4SME. Charmaine Co, president of the Philippine Young Entrepreneurs Association (PYEA), said that entrepreneurs are more than willing to invest in online tools like AI with the right amount of education and training

Photo from Cebu Business Months’ official Facebook page.

At the Cebu Business Month’s Innovation and Technology Summit, top industry experts share various strategies using artificial intelligence that would increase productivity and potential business savings

CEBU, Philippines – Technology and innovation experts converged at the Innovation and Technology Summit held in Cebu City from August 17 to 19, to tell Cebu’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that the time to use artificial intelligence (AI) to boost business efficiency has come.

Lance Pacio, a co-founder of Cebu-based startup Xeleqt AI, told Rappler in an interview that they have been able to help businesses cut operational costs, including their own, through the use of AI programs.

At present, Pacio’s company, consisting of around 16 employees, provides real-time fleet and mobility tracking for local transport businesses, workforce automation, and air quality monitoring. 

“When you send an asset or a vehicle out on the field, generally speaking, you don’t know what they’re doing and this is trillions of dollars in cost due to fraud, theft, and this is pretty common after the pandemic, a lot of people aren’t working with the company’s interest in mind,” Pacio said.

The startup co-founder recalled 10 incidents of fuel pilferage which cost up to P10,000 from a certain transport company within one week of installing Xeleqt AI’s fleet and mobility tracking.

“Once the company found out about this, they had trusted people go with each vehicle that was flagged for pilferage and it actually went down to zero incidents,” Pacio added.

Pacio also mentioned that their business has also benefitted from the use of AI in improving the code in their operating systems, and hastening email replies to customers in need of their services.

People-centric

Dr. Adrienne Heinrich, the head of the AI and Innovation Center of Excellence at the Aboitiz Data Innovation (ADI), shared in a talk during the summit that besides business costs, SMEs can also make their operations more environmentally friendly with AI.

“We applied AI as part of the optimization process in manufacturing cement and what we achieved was reduced variation in the outcome,” the expert said.

A reduced variance, Heinrich explained, would mean better consistency in the production of quality cement which also entails lesser energy use and higher carbon dioxide (CO2) emission reduction.

Citing project data from ADI, Heinrich estimated the reduction in average cement strength variance to 20%, adding that there would be a 30 to 50% reduction in power consumption and 20 to 40 tonnes in total carbon dioxide (CO2) emission reduction per year.

As a parting message, the expert urged businesses to see the value of AI beyond the economic advantages it provides.

“Don’t do AI just for the sake of AI, you do it because there is a value that you will create for end-users, for internal users, it has to be very human-centric,” Heinrich said.

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Adopting new tech

Charmaine Co, entrepreneur and president of the Philippine Young Entrepreneurs Association (PYEA), pointed out in a talk that adopting new technologies like AI is still a major hurdle for some companies due to factors like digital security, financial constraints, and resistance to change.

“The biggest hindrance of a company adopting technology is the team accepting that change. A lot of the companies we’ve known actually had to recruit younger members to their company to implement these changes,” Co said.

Despite this, mapping data from a research conducted by the PYEA in 2021 revealed that there was still a large demand for online tools from SMEs and entrepreneurs.

The entrepreneur explained that in the country, many business-oriented individuals become interested in using a program through non-conventional training or upon seeing influencers implement said tools in their own businesses.

“Costs are always a factor but if the service is able to show how a business is able to use their platform and in turn, generate more income or save more, then, entrepreneurs are more than willing to pay a premium to pay for that platform,” Co said.

Co proposed that to combat adoption challenges, local enterprises in Cebu can curate holistic training on all the online tools specific to their industry.

“If we all work together, we can champion and promote the next generation of strong and resilient enterprises that will help the future of our country and economy,” Co said. – Rappler.com

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