12 Years and still an Untamed RebelJanette Toral
Quite often, I get asked as to what lessons learned and highlights happened in DigitalFilipino that got us here today. I hope the insight and experiences I’ll share here may be of value to others.
1. Helping others succeed.
The community members success is my success. Whenever we are able to share our knowledge through online or face-to-face trainings, I make it a fun learning activity. Seeing participants apply this in their projects and witness how it worked for them makes it all worthwhile.
Another source of satisfaction is whenever we put the spotlight on others and help them be recognized for the quality of their work and their role in the e-commerce market space. This we do through our interview series, event talks, awards, among others.
Trust is a critical issue for this to be done. I often face the risk of being abused since this site started. The DigitalFilipino Club helped me create a process of helping out those who are also willing to invest in being part of the community.
2. Relationship matters.
The time spent meeting up with eager e-commerce learners in my various public talks and consultation sessions gave room for friendship to blossom. Although these moments are never enough, but relationship gets built over time. It opens the door to collaboration and referral business opportunities. Some even found their lifetime partner in the community.
Creating a blog network as well allowed me to build great relationships with SMEs, PR firms, ad agencies and aspiring professional bloggers.
3. Responsible Netizens.
I guess by fostering an environment that cares and nurtures, we also attracted like-minded individuals who see their role in the e-commerce industry beyond just running a business. Almost all have their own advocacies worth supporting to.
In reality as well, there are times when we don’t see eye-to-eye on issues. This diversity also makes us stronger as it provides the necessary check-and-balance on where we want to grow. It also keeps your feet on the ground and reminded on the importance of humility.
4. The future is what we make (of) it.
As the e-commerce market tends to be volatile – in a sense that works best in the offline world, may not necessarily work online. It made our actions unpredictable. I ventured into several areas that a lot of people didn’t expect for the sake of testing ideas (e.g. making the Philippines CMMI self-sufficient) or trigger a need for change (e.g. data privacy penalties).
This includes from having 3 face-to-face conference last year and dropping that for a video talk series this year. Decided to change as well how our annual web awards got conducted, from nomination-based to pure metrics performance tracking.
This site for instance, I kept it quiet for years and focused on building my other site properties. Staying away from it for awhile made me thought of how I want DigitalFilipino to evolve. Definitely helping out start-ups and creating a body that fosters a much more secure e-commerce infrastructure is in the horizon.
Sources of ideas and actions taken are often triggered by market developments, emotions, and at times after taking a walk or a simple conversation. That will be a longer story to tell but perhaps I will be able to share it someday.
5. Facing things beyond our control.
I think the longer we use technology, we also bear witness on how can this be abused. Some resolvable through local policies. Other issues will necessitate a higher form of cooperation either triggered by having a strong open position, negotiating through relationship channels, or through government bodies.
However, I think this can only be done by having a strong community representation that can actively participate in discussions. Am glad that some of our club members took an active role in the online sales promotion guidelines discussion.
There will be more inevitable issues to come that we had to face squarely that includes taxation, online identity management system, cybercrime, international reciprocity for recognition of law violations using free service providers based in other countries.
More than ever, being part of communities or organizations where you can engage in ideas and issues discussion becomes more critical.
6. Setting new standards.
While some may not agree, we were never afraid to set new standards deviating from traditional industry practices. The creation of a paid membership site, DigitalFilipino Club, was a big risk in 2003. However, by limiting our membership base to 100 gave way to focus.
It became an avenue for releasing new project ideas as well such as free trainings and conferences for club members.
The blog entrepreneur program released with Ateneo de Manila University and eLearning Edge / BlueBlade Technologies was the first to utilize webinar technologies in the conduct of training and class consultation. Our experience in using such application made webinars now a standard in almost all eLearning Edge programs done in Ateneo de Manila University.
The top 10 emerging influential blogs writing project was designed to ensure that new blogs will be recognized in the market by blogging peers. Putting one’s influence to work at its core. This is to ensure as well that new players will be recognized for their efforts rather than letting power be dominated by the early few.
The social networking awards pave the way for campaigns done by individuals and small players compete at an equal playing field with big players.
7. Giving an alternative
The path I embraced for DigitalFilipino is not the usual ones most individuals, building an identity online, will take. My disruptive nature, usually done in a subtle manner, had merited mixed reaction as well. However, these experiences made me respectful of views even more without compromising my core values.
Definitely, will always strive to provide an alternative in the market, when needed, that will break traditional offerings or perspective on issues.
The most recent project I embarked on lately is HomeBasedElite. It is in response to the needs of more folks today wanting to work from home either on a full-time or part-time capacity. Rather than giving big promises of being rich, we focus on building the skills of participants that will make them competitive in getting projects online. It will also serve as a venue for us to find outsourcers who can carry out projects from us.
8. Mutual trust
My story in starting DigitalFilipino and how it evolve allowed us to have a different level of “trust” relationship with industry peers. Our consultation sessions have become some sort of a clearinghouse where business issues, project ideas, and industry concerns get discussed. Arriving on workable solutions resulting to action.
Our site that functioned as an e-commerce advocate comes with a responsibility as well where we will not allow anyone to put the things we have worked hard for, such as e-commerce related policies and helping businesses go online, be violated or put down without us taking a stand.
We will continuously push for projects and initiatives that will help spur the growth of e-commerce in the Philippines further.