Being at the IT-BPM Summit 2014 in Spirit

How it’s better (sometimes) not to make it to the biggest Philippine BPO conference

13 October 2014

SO DAY ONE of the International IT-BPM Summit 2014 in the Philippines is already a wrap. I’ve attended it many times before (in its former incarnation as the International Outsourcing Summit, or IOS, so guess why they changed the name; do you really want to be competing with Apple for brand recall?), and I have skipped it a couple of times before too. But this year is probably my best non-attendance so far.

With a handful of delegates live-tweeting with the hashtag #IISPH, I pretty much got a feel for the action (and inaction—i.e. the boring parts) that was going on. And as the day progressed, more live-tweeters got in on the action on my feed. A “feeding” frenzy? Not really. More like a busy but cordial lunch. Although I had a feeling that, for some, it was their first tweet ever. Tweet numero uno. How do I know? Their profile said so. Then, the others just felt like virgin tweets. Nothing wrong with that.

It was kinda cool to be able to “favorite” the Philippine BPO stats: $18bn revenue, 1 million jobs (2014); Philippine growth 12x versus global 5x (past decade); 1% of labor force contributing 6.2% of GDP (I assume 2014); HIM 114% growth (2014?); $25bn (2016 target); $256bn global IT-BPM revenue, $48bn from Philippines (2020 est.); 9–12% CAGR.

And I struck a mutual-followership with one friendly and highly engaged delegate. (The organizers better take care of this guy. He’s the ideal conference attendee.) And throughout the day, perhaps because I wasn’t physically present, I found myself more attentive to the #IISPH feed. So overall, it was pretty sweet to just be there in spirit.

BUT I DO have a bone to pick. How do we go from “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” to 2015 “Visit the Philippines” Year (VPY)? Now, now, I know it’s not meant to replace “More Fun” and that it aims to sustain “More Fun.” But to suggest that VPY “freshens it up”? Looks like it just got More Boring in the Philippines.

And is the initialism really necessary? VPY? How often would you really find yourself saying “2015 is Visit The Philippines Year” that you need an initialism to shorten it? Yo, man, 2015 is VPY, man. Yeah, right, I see that conversation happening quite a lot.

So come 2016, it will no longer be “Visit the Philippines” Year? Isn’t (and wasn’t) every year supposed to be a VPY?

It’s all so confusing.

You know what would be great? A tourism campaign around a “Visited the Philippines Lately?” (VPL) theme, encouraging return visitors to the country. I’d love to see VPL.

THEN, SOME OF the sponsored presentations, I really did not get. How does one satisfy advertisers who pay for airtime, on one hand, and viewers who pay for content, on the other? Does airtime = attention = awareness + interest? If the airtime provider lets advertisers with irrelevant content in, doesn’t it shortchange the viewers? A philosophical content marketing conundrum.

There’s got to be a way for IT-BPM Summit sponsors to provide highly relevant and engaging content that also sells. A way for them to act like they bought just the airtime, not our attention. And admit that there is no way for them to buy our attention (ever seen a beeline for the coffee bar during a sponsored presentation?)—they need to earn it with great content. What can I say, some infomercials are good, some are not. BUT WAIT, there’s more…

A few live-tweets from the gala night are still coming in. Keeping an eye out for drunk tweets and the next Rocky Agrawal. Stay tuned.

Update (16 Oct 2014): Click here for Day Two.

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