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No other scientific or technological breakthrough has ever changed the world or the way we live more than the invention of the computer. Not only did it kick off a series of technological discoveries that would eventually see us going to outer space—as well as the creation of the internet as we know it— but it also started a revolution that would have nations competing with each other in an entirely new battleground: software development.
It is in this arena that the Philippines, a country known for its lush archipelago as well as its prolific and versatile workforce, stakes its claim to be recognized as a staunch competitor. Such an effort is spearheaded by the Philippine Software Industry Association (PSIA), an organization established in the 1980s by eleven of the brightest software industry leaders of the country at the time.
With its aim to support software development startups as well as create and nurture homegrown talent, the PSIA has become one of the major players driving the Philippines towards global acclaim and recognition in the software development market, as well as in the information technology and business process management (IT-BPM) industry.
About PSIA and Its History
The Philippine Software Industry Association is a non-stock, non-profit organization dedicated to driving the growth of the local IT industry in order to promote the Philippines as the preferred choice for software development services. The group is composed of 150 seasoned IT businesses that run the gamut in terms of size—from small and medium businesses to multinational enterprises—and enjoys dedicated governmental support from the Department of Science and Technology. Cognizant of the importance of diversity as a key factor in any organization’s strength, the PSIA also features prominent players and Filipino-owned companies from abroad.
Since its establishment in 1988, the PSIA has collaborated with the government in the creation of initiatives and policies geared towards accelerating the growth of the Philippine software industry, thereby boosting its competitiveness in the international software scene. Through this, the Philippines made its name in the global market as an attractive and highly competitive off-shoring location.
The group has also spearheaded efforts in developing local talent through multifaceted efforts, one of which is the creation of SPRING.PH, an industry platform dedicated to supporting Filipino software startups and assisting in the creation and commercialization of globally-recognized software products in various categories.
In the same vein, the PSIA also participates in the creation of programming courses and IT-focused school curricula alongside the country’s educational bodies, namely the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Philippine Commission of Higher Education (CHED).
Finally, it targets the development of skills, capabilities, and expertise of local software development firms and improves IT employee recruitment and retention by holding regular enablement seminars, training workshops, and scholarship programs. These activities also serve to bridge the gap between students and currently-employed professionals, ensuring a more qualified pool of IT and Computer Science students to join the workforce upon graduation.
The PSIA’s Highlights and Achievements
The PSIA’s aggressive drive in pushing the Philippines to the forefront of the international software development market has resulted in achievements that, in turn, netted significant gains not just for the local IT industry but for the nation at large. Some of these achievements include:
- Earning the country the distinction of being the 2007 Best Off-Shoring Destination of the Year by the National Outsourcing Association (NOA) of the United Kingdom. This is due to collaboratively developed policies and initiatives as well as the international competitiveness of the local industry.
- Generating USD 1.6 billion in industry revenue in 2012 as a result of aggressive promotion of the Philippines in new service line and geographies, while at the same time enhancing the country’s branding as a top IT-BPM destination and conducting targeted efforts to convert prospective inspectors.
- Hiring 57,000 full-time employees in the same year, with each employee contributing USD 20,000 per annum to industry earnings.
- Earning Manila and Cebu the third and eight spot in the Top 8 Global Outsourcing Destinations in 2012.
The PSIA is also known for directly pursuing international clients and investors to garner revenue and leads for the local IT industry. In 2016, the PSIA led a delegation to Japan in order to participate in the Software Development Expo (SODEC), mainly to promote Philippine IT-BPM services. This visit brought in partnership deals, service agreements, and leads worth US2.5 million for PSIA members and partners.
PSIA Programs and Activities
The PSIA holds many programs and activities pursuant of its main goal. These activities are divided according to separate groups within the PSIA that handle a specific mandate of the organization.
The Software Products Incubation Group, or SPRING.PH, governs the PSIA’s initiative to nurture local startups through encouragement, education, and support. As of 2016, close to 50 companies and 24 product teams have joined SPRING.PH. Its activities are as follows:
- Monthly meet ups, dubbed as “Techtalks,” for startups to foster a sense of community and competition in the local IT and software development industry.
- Quarterly LaunchPad events, wherein participating teams are given assistance to realize their software product ideas with monetary and coaching assistance.
- Monthly coaching sessions to assist and instruct startups and product teams on challenges and issues they are currently facing through the use of software development.
- Startup competitions for schools to help foster student interest in software application, IT, computer science, etc.
The PSIA Technical Council consists of a group of technical experts in the Philippine software industry and is tasked to provide technical resources for the PSIA’s various initiatives. This is done while also honing the developers of tomorrow through the re-tuning of educational curriculums, to match international competitive standards and better prepare graduates for the industry. Since its formation in 2009, its members have partaken in the following activities:
- Accrediting trainers to conduct programming courses under TESDA’s Training For Work Scholarship Program (TWSP)
- Participating in CHED’s accreditation of Computer Science, Information Technology, and Information Systems degree programs
- Participating in the creation of curricula for short programming courses for TESDA
- Participating in the revision of the Computer Science curriculum for CHED
- Conducting training for university CS and IT faculty throughout the country on subjects relevant to the industry
- Conducting talks and workshops on topics relevant to the industry, such as technology careers, Lean startup and Agile Software Development, among others
- Writing tech-based articles in various publications and blogs
- Mentoring in startup events
The Capability Development Committee of the PSIA, or CapDev, is the organization’s educational arm. As such it is tasked with supporting the improvement and development of the skills, assets, and capabilities of the companies that make up the Philippine software industry. This is done through seminars, conventions and trainings that focus on the growth of the currently-employed professional. Their main initiatives include:
- Annual Enablement Seminars (ES)
- Expanded Learning on IT Services (ELITES) Training
- Training for Work Scholarship Program (TWSP)
- Skills Standards for IT Professionals (ITSS)
On top of all these, the PSIA also conducts surveys and studies in order to decipher the trends of the software industry and maximize growth.
Future Goals of the PSIA
The PSIA is committed to become the driving force behind the Filipino software industry as well as IT at large. The group continues its current initiatives and programs in order to further nurture homegrown talent and interest in IT. At the same time, it promotes the country to offshore clients interested in investing in a workforce renowned for its versatility, skill, and peerless command of the English language. Its mandate to improve the proficiency and skillset of local software development companies is also set to persist into the foreseeable future, while also fostering alliances and friendships among its members and other associations here and abroad.