Opportunity in Every CrisisJanette Toral
[May 2, 2003] I remember attending a lecture a few years back about entrepreneurship. The speaker then said, that in every crisis, there’s an opportunity. The challenge is to build on it and make the people around you realize its benefits.
The year 2003 is very interesting. Yes, there are problems like the Iraq war that caused uncertainty globally. Now there’s the life-threatening SARS. As far as the Internet industry is concern, this poses a lot of threats but at the same time, a lot of opportunities too.
Jherlie Cheng was in Manila FAME last week to gather respondents for our exporters survey. It was a little scary as you can see a few visitors and exhibitors wearing protective masks while we’re not wearing one. The number of trade visitors this year was reduced greatly as well. In fact, international trade shows and conferences will be greatly threatened if the SARS issue does not end soon.
However, with our basic business needs to survive, this is where information technology and the Internet can come into play. There are so many technologies and online facilities that can be explored so that business can be as usual despite these trying times. This includes:
1. Video-conferencing. A lot of ISPs right now are offering these facilities at reasonable cost. This is where several individuals with fast Internet connections can login to a common facility and have a meeting. (e.g. AVICON)
2. Instant messaging. If a fast Internet connection is not available, there are several instant messaging tools that can be used to facilitate group communication. A topnotcher in this area is Yahoo Messenger where you can share documents, see a video of the person(s) you’re talking to online and even have an audio group discussion. If you’re out of the country and want to disseminate information to your peers in the Philippines using text messaging, Chikka is also a great tool to use which you can also use wherever you are.
3. Website. I think with all the tough times we’re facing, having a website now is very important among small and medium enterprises and use it as a medium to sell products and disseminate corporate information. Having a website need not be expensive as well. There are also great communities where one can join. (e.g. ExperTrade, EYP, and SME.COM.PH)
4. News. There are a lot of interesting content portals where you can get the information that you need in an instant. They can also be useful in disseminating information about your company through advertising. (e.g. Inq7 and SunStar)
5. Shopping. If you’re scared of going to the malls and be exposed to various health risks, online shopping can be an alternative. You can now buy groceries online (e.g. Rustans, SM Supermarket) and a variety of items (e.g. MyAyala and others). Of course, you need to know the basics before you buy online.
6. Banking. There are a great number of banks offering online services where depositors can pay bills, transfer funds, among others (e.g. BPI, ExportBank, UnionBank). Join the growing number of Internet users who discovered the convenience of online banking.
There are so many reasons why we have to take a 2nd look at the Internet on how it can help our respective businesses and make our lives easier in times of uncertainty. For the entrepreneurs, perhaps we can start reviving our Internet dreams again.
One thing is for sure. The habits of Filipino Internet users in 2003 will greatly change mature and the Internet will be seen as an important tool for survival.