10th Digital Transformation Asia 2022: FEU’s Enrique Amigo does not find it difficult being a CIO in the academic industry

Enrique Amigo or known as “Ike” is the Far Eastern University’s Chief Information Officer, who has over 34 years of experience in the sphere of Information Technology and Operations Management. Ike finished a degree of Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of the Philippines. In today’s feature of Spotlight Interview, Ike shares his remarkable thoughts on digital transformation in the Philippines. 

The CIO wants the Filipinos to know that the country still has a long way to go in terms of digital transformation. Many tend to believe that transformation has occurred just because some parts of the business are digitized so they would halt on reaping the full potential of what it truly can offer. For example, Ike related it to retail and ecommerce – just because a grocery chain puts up an online presence but continues to be a brick and mortar company, it does not mean that it is necessarily considered as a digital transformation. “If it is a digital transformation, where is the comprehensive change that alters the company’s business strategy?” It’s what Ike wants the organizations in the Philippines to know and the implication of digital transformation is not just done by the CIOs, but each leader within the organization must take part. “Because it is the main business of the company that has to be transformed, not just its processes.”

The world gains some new things or trends every time it shifts – it is a must that every industry adapts to it. For Ike, as one gets older in the industry, there is less time to take opportunities to learn but it is necessary in every industry now that innovation is moving at light speed. “Through the years, I just learned, understood and embraced the need to continuously learn. And there are formal ways to learn, one of those is training.” Amigo has set aside specific schedules to go through training. To keep it informal yet formal at the same time, he also engages in conferences or summits consisting of broader discussions that provide a lot of opportunities to learn and understand about industry verticals. Taking part in these events allows him to have the actual experience and experience is a great teacher according to Ike; and that we must be humble enough to understand that we do not know everything and the world that we live in changes constantly. “If we claim that we’ve got everything right already because we have these 30 or so years of experience, then that is when we will really get left behind. Humility goes a long way to understanding that you need many avenues to learn.”

Ike has gone through various leadership roles within leading companies in the Philippines such as Accenture Inc, Ayala Group and IBM Philippines. Transitioning to an internal role in the sphere of the academic world, his role may be different as a technology leader after more than 30 years of experience as a solution provider. In spite of that, he does not find the transition difficult because he understands what it means to be a customer.  “I think there are good aspects I was able to bring. One of them is having a consulting mindset that looks for ways to improve the business of your customer, whether they are your peer departments, or the end customer of the company.” An advantage for Ike, he still perceives things as a consultant as he currently handles his job at FEU. 

It’s equally important to have a position such as CIO in universities or academe industry just like in other organizations. The academic sector is not spared in regards to digital transformation. Ike breaks it down to essentially two general areas – a digital transformation that impacts the students’ experience and one for the sake of improvement of academic excellence. “All the programs that we implement in terms of digital transformation have to impact both”. For instance, he related it to one of the university’s transformation goals to achieve academic excellence where his team has to put their thinking caps on. They have implemented data analytics, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to predict the students’ success – to keep track of the students’ record for them to be able to spot what areas need to improve. That is where digital technologies can help.  “So that’s just an example of what we do in FEU so that we can contribute to become a better society with better talent pool and better students coming out from the university into corporations that they will be joining in the near future.”

In terms of the Philippines’ digital transformation situation, Ike thinks the country is on the right track. “We must treat it with high value for we might get left behind by the neighboring countries”, he stated. Filipinos are known for their patriotism. According to Ike, Filipinos are thrilled to ride on the accomplishments of some of the well-known industries such as the business process outsourcing industry. The time is now to embrace digital transformation to produce accomplishments for the country’s success. It is a tremendous enabler of business’ success, however, it is not an easy process for it requires boldness. Change has never been easy and sometimes leaders fear to make a change because if it fails, it will be taken against them. “There has to be a willingness as a whole organization to accept some level of failure. If every failure is taken against you, then you stifle that boldness to undertake a tremendous change in the form of digital transformation.” 

Join Enrique for more insights about digital transformation at 10th Digital Transformation, co-located with 4th ITSEC Asia 2022 on 16th November at Shangri-La Fort, BGC.

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