This Cebu-Based CEO Believes Companies Should Learn How to Use AI To Improve their Business

“How can AI make us better?” the CEO asks.
IMAGE Max Limpag

Rather than dwell on the negative impact of artificial intelligence, companies should dive into AI and see how it can improve their business, the CEO of a Cebu-based software design and development company said. 

“That’s what our take in Symph is right now: how AI can make us better developers, better creators,” said Dave Overton, CEO of Symph. “And likewise for businesses that are out there, for call center agents: how can AI actually help you do your job more effectively? How can it help make your businesses better?”

Overton spoke during a press conference organized by Symph at The Company in the IT Park, Cebu City. The event was also a product demo for three AI apps produced by Symph’s team as part of the AI 30x30 initiative. Under the innovation challenge, the company targeted to create 30 AI-powered apps by April 30. Symph ended up with 65 AI-powered apps. 


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The three apps included in the demo were TravelBudol, which gives you travel recommendations based on your preferred destination and available budget; Appgen, which simplifies the building of AI-powered apps even by non-coders; and Prompeteer, which streamlines the creation of chat bots.

Speakers, participants and Symph team members at the press conference

Photo by Max Limpag.

AI, Filipino tech pioneer Dado Banatao warned in 2017, could displace a large number of business process outsourcing (BPO) workers but could also allow the country to triple its revenues in the sector. Overton said the rapid development in AI shows people and the industry need to upskill.

“Do I have concerns that AI could replace BPO? Yeah, absolutely,” Overton said. “You know, with what we're seeing in text-to-speech it’s happening fast, processing is fast. So will I say that the call centers will be here forever? I’d take the controversial position: no, I don't think so, and if we haven’t been upskilling in the Philippines, we need to double down on that.”

The English proficiency advantage of the Philippines, Overton said, will disappear with AI. He added that previous predictions on automation were for blue collar workers to be affected and that people used to think that driving would be fully automated for services such as Waymo and Uber.

“They've come a long way,” Overton said, “but they're not there yet. But now suddenly we have Copilot from GitHub, we have OpenAI ChatGPT, which can generate not perfect code but some pretty good code that you can run a lot of applications with. We have things on the creative side like MidJourney and different tools that you could create some pretty amazing graphics with and so suddenly, maybe, the blue collar jobs aren't the ones that are being affected first. Maybe it's actually more of the white collar; the creative technical side of things.”

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A rep demos the Prompeteer app

Photo by Max Limpag.

Overton said people should “not be blinded by thinking AI won’t take our jobs.” Symph, especially, decided to go “all in” on AI after seeing the exponential advances in the field, especially with the capabilities of large language models such as ChatGPT.

Still, AI can be a threat to companies like Symph because it can get better at programming. “There will be a point where AI can out-program some of the best developers in the world when it comes down to things that are very defined, like software development tasks,” he said.

What is important, Overton added, is to look at AI as a tool in our “arsenal of creativity” and make it improve our work and boost our business.

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