Mobile Apps: The Future of Business
by Allain Dumon Fonte
The history of trade dates back to the oldest civilization. People had to cross seas or travel far and wide to get their needs in exchange for anything valuable. The ancient ways of conducting business led to the development of new cultures and new societies, as merchants settled in foreign lands and discovered new places to expand their enterprises. However, in the now, businessmen neither need to travel far and wide, nor cross seas; with just a scroll and click, a business transaction is signed, sealed, and delivered. Doing business at the comfort of one’s home, office, bedroom, or even on the favorite couch, is brought about by the advancement of mobile apps.
So, how do mobile apps shape the way businesses perform? First, on the list is the improved, more accurate, and faster means of communication. Before, we needed to send mails or electronic mails to communicate agreements and to pass back and forth contracts. This means that communication takes time, and for the message to get crossed. Moreover, there are high risks of losing the message along the way. However, with mobile apps, it is easier and faster to communicate with your clients and business partners. Best Business apps have got special features where sellers and buyers can chat or call each other. Some apps even allow business owners to meet with their office staff online and discuss or plan strategies to market and enhance operations. Hence, the comfort of working remotely.
Entrepreneur and stylographer, Dexter Alazas, works as a fashion designer, manages a modelling and talent agency, and curates events for Cebu’s major brands. Alazas is very grateful to modern technologies. With a mobile app that is especially programmed for his business, he can easily communicate with clients and remotely meet with staff. At any time, clients can leave her a message, and these messages are sent to his mobile phone and email address. With this, no messages can be left unread; even if he is in Boracay for a holiday.
The second benefit is the agile mobile technology. Mobile apps are easy to update, and programmers are working constantly to find ways that their mobile apps become as user-friendly as possible. Mobile apps are also consistently reviewed with their functionality, speed, and comfort. The consistent reviews allow programmers to continuously improve their apps. For example, with the Gcash app, Alazas is able to compensate his staff or talents directly to their banks or gcash accounts. Alazas’ clients also find it faster to pay him through the Gcash app. Plus, the Lalamove app is a big help to Alazas and his clients because it saves them the time to travel to and from the shop. With the Lalamove app, Alazas can have his clients’ orders delivered straight to their homes.
Third benefit is mobile sales and mobile marketing. Mobile apps can include features like emails, calendars, campaign management solutions, and they are even linked to social media platforms. This allows the business owners to have a wider reach of customers as their businesses can be advertised online. These apps also allow businesses to reach out and maintain a pool of interested clients by taking advantage of online search engines. When someone searches on the Pinterest app about bridal dresses, photos of Alazas’ bridal collection appear. This helps Alazas connect with potential clients.
After interviewing 50 entrepreneurs in Cebu, these are their most loved and most used mobile apps that help them make their business operations much smoother, especially during the pandemic.
1. Gcash – this mobile app even supersedes the comfort of online banking. Anyone can easily transfer and receive cash at any time of the day. Transactions are fast and instant. Unlike banks, anyone can cash in and cash out from 24 hours Gcash service centers like 7/11 and mini stop shops. The only thing that our entrepreneurs do not like about this app are the transaction fees. Rating this app with 4.5 stars out of 5
2. Grab – is a delivery app that ties up mostly with restaurants. Many of our food entrepreneurs confessed that their sales have increased significantly with the help of the Grab app. During the strict lockdowns where most establishments are closed, it was the Grab app that keep their businesses running because people ordered food through the app. The only hiccup is on the delay of the delivery of goods. Many of our food entrepreneurs receive complaints of delayed services. Our entrepreneurs rate this app 4 out of stars.
3. Lalamove – is another delivery mobile app which is mostly used by businessmen to have their items delivered to their customers because it has fast services and accurate maps. Because of the strict quarantine protocols during the pandemic, many businesses have gone online and used the Lalamove app to help deliver the orders of their clients. Entrepreneurs gave this app a perfect rating of 5 stars.
Although, mobile apps can have a few glitches like weak internet connection or when mobile apps run slow. Yet, when you weigh the benefits over the possible troubles, mobile apps surely make doing business a pleasure.
Keep Calm by Knowing These Myths About COVID-19
by Chrissy Grey Resaba
In these times of pandemic, hysteria and panic have taken over the world and nonchalance is a word not to be manifested for today. Worry and fear are enveloping around Cebu with enough evidence of the actions taken by the public – the hoarding of necessities and goods.
Cebu – both the city and the province – is working towards making the island a safe haven from the pandemic caused by the Novel Coronavirus. Entry points of both ports – aerial and naval – are now closed. Curfew hours are being implemented to secure that no one is outside during the hours indicated. Business and academic sectors shifted their modes to work-from-home and online classes. Medical professionals have been on the frontlines battling against the proliferation of COVID-19.
It is quite eerie to look at the main streets of the Queen City of the South having few crowds to none. The hustle and bustle of the metropolis has gone into an empty space. The actions taken by the government and the Republic of the Philippines are for better or for worse; it is only for the good of the public.
Cebu has been under the state of community quarantine and certain measures were implemented to ensure the public’s safety and well-being. However, there are still myths making rounds in social media and the public in general about the ways to avoid COVID-19. These myths are not supported by scientific evidence. The scattering of fake news worsens the situation instead.
Here are some myths about the Novel Coronavirus:
1. Hot and cold weather
Contrary to popular belief, the COVID-19 virus will never die when exposed to hot or cold weather. This type of coronavirus can be transmitted in all areas regardless of the weather.
2. Drinking water
It is necessary to hydrate ourselves and to moisturize the throats but there is no scientific evidence that consuming volumes of water can flush out the virus.
Clear enough from the name of the medicine, antibiotic never kills the virus but bacteria instead. It is not advisable to take antibiotics to prevent COVID-19.
4. Eating banana
There is a video circulating in social media about the banana fruit that miraculously kills the COVID-19 virus. However, if one should be keen enough to examine the video, it is a hoax. To date, there are no approved treatments for the virus. Eating a banana and other fruits can boost the immune system instead but not kill the COVID-19 virus.
Practicing proper hygiene such as regular hand washing with soap and water remains to be an effective way of preventing infection since soap dissolves the structure of the virus. The public should not be very complacent enough to rely on hand washing alone. Maintaining social distance, staying at home, having proper coughing or sneezing etiquette, and putting oneself in self-quarantine if one traveled from outside Cebu or the country are some of the best ways to avoid the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Efforts of Sustaining Cebu as the Unesco Creative City of Design
by Chrissy Grey Resaba
Cebu City has etched an indelible mark in the country and of the world for a lot of reasons. For more than five centuries, Cebu has been a center of culture and a model of resiliency. “Sinibuayng Hingpit” was the former name of the city during the pre-colonial times which means “to trade”; already inherent to the name that Cebu was a center of commerce. Also, Cebu had a very big role in Magellan-Elcano circumnavigation of the world which still has been argued that had not been Ferdinand Magellan got killed on the island of Mactan, the victorious fleet would not have happened that will push back the age of discovery for a couple of hundred years. Metro Cebu on the other hand, is the second-largest population in the country.
“Celebrate Cebu” is a tourism brand launched by the Cebu City Government as a declaration of pride, expression of delight, or even a sign of exasperation. One of the most celebrated and largest festivals in the world Sinulog attracts about two million people – enough reason why there are 101 ways to celebrate Cebu. The Mactan Cebu International Airport is already one of the most internationally awarded travel hubs in the region surpassing Changi Airport of Singapore. A lot of infrastructure projects are about to be realized as well that there will even have the first Skidmore Owings and Merill (SOM) in the Visayas. With nearly 20 sister cities’ agreement in place, Cebu has the most twin towns of any Philippine city and five of which are already within the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.
Cebu will further expand its reputation as the city is bidding itself to be enlisted in the UNESCO Creative City. UNESCO Creative City’s bid is a natural progression from the momentum sparked by Cebu Design Week and has already jumpstarted many new projects and collaborations even before the designation was attained. In recent years, the Cebu design community has been eclipsed by the boom in tourism, construction, and BPO-IT when in fact, the design is heavily embedded in these sectors. In 2018, CDW was launched to connect, create, and cultivate the numerous creative disciplines. To accelerate the action planning for the UNESCO bid, CDW talked to a lot of key stakeholders. The Creative Cebu bid team comprises a variety of individuals from the LGU, the Regional and the National government agencies, business support organizations, professionals, associations, academe, creative hubs, and design practitioners.
United Nations defines the creative industries along the lines of heritage, arts, media, and functional creations. The main bid components are divided into three parts: (1) inventory mapping because there is no such design-related maps in Cebu, (2) statistics, and (3) atlas. Due to the definition is so wide, it is very difficult to quantify hence, facing the biggest challenge: how to quantify the effect of creative economies in Cebu?
Four months is all it took to come up with the numbers. CDW theorized that seven percent of the total Cebuano economy is based on the creative industries and is even undervalued and a very conservative number. By October 31 of last year, a surprise shocked everyone from the team as Cebu has gotten the distinction of being a UNESCO Creative City. There are seven categories in the Creative Cities Network: crafts and folklore, film, gastronomy, literature, media arts, music, and design. The design category is considered as the hardest to achieve because it is most challenging to quantify. The short term benefits of becoming a creative city are: (1) it is the great rallying point for the community to just get around, (2) it inspires the next generation designers, (3) it drives incremental tourism investments, and (4) it reasserts Cebu’s branding as the leading design destination. The longer terms are: (1) it ignites unprecedented collaborations with local, regional, national, and international partners, (2) it relies big-ticket items that force multipliers for the economy and the community, (3) it cements Cebu’s global reputation, and (4) it solidifies the importance of design in Cebu’s inclusive and sustainable development that is inlined with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030.
It is also imperative to change the common mindset of design as being purely aesthetic. Design is a creative solution to solve everyday problems hence, answering why design is important. Furthermore, it is important because the advancements of technology right now are changing so much, demographics are shifting, and consumer preferences are changing at a very fast pace. The competition is crazy for cities must level up to be able to compete with this global economy. There is a need to engage design practitioners at any level for an inclusive and sustainable city.
UNESCO has very strict guidelines when it comes to co-branding with its temple. Therefore, the team tweaks the Cebu’s branding that will be symmetrical with the temple and used the Pantone’s color of the year, Classic Blue, to signify when the bid has been done. The logo is based on the shape of Cebu City which is not very familiar with because people are more familiar with the island.
These are some several highlights that CDW is working on:
1. Museum of Design (MuDe)
Coming this September MuDe is not just any typical museum people know about. Aside from being a converging point or a showcase repository, it is an enabling point for creatives. There will also be a physical and virtual showcase, learning and working hub, and an inspiring venue and collaborative market space. MuDe will be at the Skypark of SM Seaside because of its big outdoor component.
2. Urban Acupuncture
Urban Acupuncture is an initiative that develops small projects or small pockets of beauty and scaling them all around the city to be able to achieve critical mass. Its first target will in Downtown Cebu and hopes to collaborate with Cebu City Tourism Commission while the Department of Tourism has expressed interest. TIEZA will be funding the project of revitalizing the Downtown with place markers starting from Fort San Pedro, Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu, Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, Parian, and Colon. Moreover, Malacañang sa Sugbo will be launched as a national museum by the year 2021.
3. Community-based initiative
Bringing all of the creative initiatives to the grassroots so it will not be perceived as elitist but rather a community-based. This is to transform the core of the city into something relevant and exciting by piloting to three communities along with three universities of Cebu: the University of San Carlos for Talamban, University of the Philippines – Cebu for Lahug, and Southwestern University PHINMA for Urgello. The reason why these universities are chosen because they are also in the process of completely changing their campuses by breaking the walls after they patterned it to the campus of Georgetown University in DC.
There will also be the utilization of community centers because they are very underutilized and placing the first design studio for kids that is hopefully be implemented by September.
People of Cebu are in high hopes of having Creative Cebu’s bid to UNESCO as the Creative City of Design come into fruition and none of these creative initiatives are made possible had it not been because of the private sector head for the Creative Cebu Grid, Butch Carungay.
International Workplace Group and Apple One Properties Inc. redefines Commercial Real Estate in the Visayas
by Allain Dumon Fonte
In fast-moving economies, the businesses thrive stronger and quicker. Yet, this situation has also caused the rise and fall of many establishments, and forced businesses to innovate in order to survive; just as how Charles Darwin theorized, “this is the survival of the fittest”. Nowadays, the fittest business establishment is the one that can give in to the demands of consumers that continuously change. Brought about by the marriage of cultures and technology, the needs of consumers can change at a 360-degree-angle at any time. When the consumers’ needs change, so does the demands. Hence, businesses need to learn how to bow where the wind blows.
The International Workplace Group (IWG) understands clearly the dynamics of the economy, the society, and even politics; and, has made it its mission to address the needs of the businesses, so in the end, they can also provide the needs of their clients. IWG does this by giving people and businesses access to commercial real estate solutions through unrivalled choice of workspaces from its operating companies: Regus, Spaces, HQ, and Signature by Regus; each designed to serve the unique needs of businesses of every size. With a membership contribution of only six thousand pesos (PhP6,000.00), a business can have access to shared-workspaces anywhere in the globe where they can hold meetings, discuss transactions, or simply focus on work. With a track-record for more than 30 years, IWG has seen the potential of shared work-spaces in the Visayas and in Mindanao.
With its vision to provide the best workspaces in the region, IWG partnered with Apple One Properties, Inc. (API), Cebu’s leading name in property development and real estate sales. API has always kept its portfolio diverse and relevant by recognizing the growing demand for flexible workspaces and mixed-used developments in the premier business districts in the Visayas.
In December 2018, API signed a franchise partnership agreement with IWG for eight centers in six cities in the Visayas in five years. This is the first in Southeast Asia. The signing ceremony was held at the Diamond Hotel and Suites, and was attended by Matthew James Kenly, head of partnership growth for IWG Asia Pacific; Rowena B. Natividad, head of partnership growth for IWG Philippines; Lars Wittig, country manager for IWG Philippines | Thailand | Vietnam | Cambodia | South Korea; Ray Manigsaca, CEO and president of API; and, Venus Manigsaca, chairman of API.
The six cities identified are Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Dumaguete City, Iloilo City, and Bacolod City. Kenly strongly believes that the partnership will strengthen the economy in the region because it will generate more jobs inside and outside the centers. Kenly further discusses that the centers in the premier business districts will also improve productivity and will provide more opportunities for the locals. API’s Rey Manigsaca is very excited on the partnership because the service-office-market is a very big market that has not yet been tapped, and with IWG’s partnership Manigsaca believes that they can bring to the region the world-class facilities and benefits of flexible working spaces.
Lars Wittig discusses that the reason why the Visayas has the greatest potential in the country is because of its ever-advancing economy; and, as the capital region gets too congested, the businesses are moving to central Philippines. Plus, the access to central Philippines is much easier with its state-of-the-art international ports and airports, making the logistics much easier in the area. Wittig also expresses appreciation to the policies and the government administration in the locality because it is very supportive to the businesses.
The six centers of API and IWG will join IWG’s global network consisting of 3,400 centers across 120 countries. In the Philippines, IWG has 28 centers in ten cities across Metro Manila, Clark, Cebu, and Davao. With the upcoming six centers in the Visayas, API and IWG will surely make the region as Southeast Asia’s newest business hub and trade center. This is truly an exciting way to start the year, exciting for our economy, and exciting for the people in the Visayas.
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