Needed: P2P War Stories

Are you winning your P2P digitization battle?

Processes are rarely static nor are always organized neatly. Because of this, process improvement has always been a big challenge for most companies and many managers have “war stories” to share in this respect. Nevertheless, the rapid advancements in the digitization of documents, their contents and the underlying processes provide an excellent opportunity not only for improving efficiency but also in promoting the holy grail of customer-centricity.

I’m really keen to have a good view of how digitization is affecting the long-ignored, long-neglected P2P process. (In the same breadth, I’d also like to find out how well crowdsourcing will work in helping me form this view.)

Calling all the friendly netizens out there to help me answer this question: How is digitization contributing to growing self-awareness of process owners and in improving the end-to-end procure-to-pay processes of organizations?

In addition to answering this cornerstone question, I will be happy to hear other insights regarding more specific issues:

  1. Do you use an automated process discovery tool? In what context is this used in your P2P process?
  2. Do you have communities of practice within your P2P process? Was digitization a key enabler in this effort?
  3. What are your 3-4 most important KPIs for your P2P process? What makes these KPIs important?
  4. How important is performance visualization in your P2P process? Does your P2P system allow for “mashups” that allow people to create and manage their own graphical dashboards?

I will appreciate your comments on this blog or you alternatively send me an email at If this crowdsourcing experiment works, I will share what I will discover also in this blog site.


Don’t be afraid to share your P2P digitization war stories!


Perfect inflationary storm coming soon

Just because we have not had a problem with inflation for more than 6 years now doesn’t mean that we should treat is as nothing but superstition like the White Walkers in the Game of Thrones.

OPEC’s intent to cut back oil production for the first time in 8 years (See Bloomberg story on OPEC) taken together with the depreciation of the Philippine Peso to a seven-year low and the Duterte Budget Secretary Ben Diokno’s promise of record deficit spending to more than 3% of GDP – the highest in seven years – should be a cause for concern for the inflation hawks. (Btw, the Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Dulay has curiously not released the BIR’s collection performance for any period since the new administration began – not even for the Mr. Duterte’s First 100 Days report.) The 3 events taken together may just lead to the perfect inflationary storm. As it is, the inflation rate has risen from 1.9% in June 2016 to 2.4% in November. Even more worrisome, food inflation has reached 3.3% – which hurts the poorest Filipino families the most.

Are the local businesses out there worried about this awakening demon? Are there concerns for the marginalized sectors of society who bear the brunt of the inflationary pain? Or am I alone in worrying about the Pandora’s Box of cost-push inflation?

Inflation is coming!

Bellini’s – a Tasty Blast from the Past

Casual Italian dining at its most quaint

“Why don’t we try Bellini’s?”, my wife Amy asked. We had just finished our business at the government center at Ali Mall and were looking for a nice place for lunch. Some friends happened to mention this Italian restaurant snuck away in Cubao Expo. With the aid of Google Maps, we learned that Cubao Expo was a mere 10 minute walk from Ali Mall.

Ali Mall was the sosyal mall north of Makati during my teenage years. I remember the place fondly but its best days are clearly behind it. In fact, all the buildings in the General Romulo Avenue area have seen better days. As we walked towards the Cubao Expo, there was a lot of demolition and construction happening to make way for a major Empire East real estate project.

When we got to Cubao Expo, we were almost magically transported to a place lost in time. The rows of boutique stores in the U-shaped street were quirky and artsy at the same time and clearly a throwback to the hippy 70’s. I fell in love with the place instantly.

20160820 Guitar

We found Bellini’s in the inner sanctum of Cubao Expo. A four-foot replica of the Tower of Pisa stood by the entrance minus the famous tilt. Inside the restaurant, the ambiance was warm and kitschy. I knew it was going to be a fun lunch.

20160820 Menu

The menu

We ordered a variety of antipasti from the buffet setting that happened to be just three feet from our table – it was a delightful combination of Italian and local ingredients.The focaccia was warm, fresh and delish – enough for us to order a second loaf! The sardines was simply heavenly.

As we were savoring the antipasti, an old caucasian gentlemen approached our table and tried to strike a conversation with me, presumably trying to ask about how we liked the food. He spoke in a rather anxious tone in what sounded to be Italian with a smattering of English. I think I smiled reassuringly and said something like the food was fine. He also looked somewhat distracted and left as quickly as he appeared. I asked the waiter who the man was and the waiter explained that the man was Roberto, the owner of the restaurant.


Yummy antipasti sampler

The main course consisted of pasta and pizza mainly because we had all the kids with us. I was anticipating an authentic Italian meal (having met Roberto) and was toying with idea of pairing some red wine with lunch. I’m not too fond of Italian wines, though. Instead, I ordered a limoncello and asked for it to be served together with the main course rather than as an after-meal digestivo. The main course was good but mostly nothing out of the ordinary and I was glad about having the (extra-strong) limoncello  to make things more interesting. That said, the tasty Fettuccine Tartufo Funghi con Prosciuto is probably something I would order again the next time around.

20160820 Limoncello


We are a family of sweet teeth. That meant that we had to sample some of the desert offerings, as always. And the coffee. Nonetheless, I was too full already to truly appreciate the sweets.

20160820 Beetle

Kitschy decor

Tearing the old landmarks down now
Paving over brave little parks
Ah nothing lasts for long
Nothing lasts for long
– Chinese Cafe by Joni Mitchell

Play 2 Listen to Joni Mitchell’s Chines Cafe/Unchained Melody

The decor and the ambiance made me feel somewhat wistful. I drove a VW Beetle back in the day. I discovered the country and myself riding that Beetle.  As I left the restaurant and the Cubao Expo I also felt a bit fretful that this oh-so-charming place might be gone soon. We all know what happened to heritage sites such as the old art deco Jai Alai building (demolished by Lito Atienza) and several heritage sites along Escolta (demolished by Erap Estrada). Why even the old C.O.D. Department Store which had moving Christmas mannequin displays for half a century next door to the Cubao Expo is sadly gone.

I can only wish that the Empire East and other nearby real estate developments will not gobble up this quaint cultural throwback. If you are interested, make sure you visit soon.

Finger icon Visit the Bellini’s Facebook site

The Chief Chaos Monkey of Spring Valley

This is a happy story of Pisay alumni paying forward.

It is always interesting to bump into Jonathan De Luzuriaga. These days he calls himself the Chief Instigator at Spring Valley. I prefer to call him the Chief Chaos Monkey of Spring Valley.

Chaos Monkey

The CCM of Spring Valley

Jonathan recounts that he had been searching the archipelago high and low for that one place where technology and innovation can prosper. As serendipity would have it, he was invited to speak at an ICT-BPM Roadshow in late 2015 in Roxas City in the beautiful island of Panay. As he was sampling the sumptuous seafood, Pueblo de Panay (where the event venue was located) caught Jonathan’s eagle eyes.

Pueblo de Panay, a 500 hectare mixed use township development, is right smack in the middle of the country. There is considerable development in progress but not at a point where injecting urban planning was too late. A convention center, a mall, several hotels and restaurants were present and the land development (roads and bridges) was already in full swing. Could this be the technology mecca that he had been in quest of for two years now?

Jonathan visited the place once more in early 2016 and noticed the upkeep of the venue was very strong. Unlike in the rest of the country where entropy tended to the maximum, there was a strong sense of order in the place. There was another hotel being built and several IT-BPM locators were already interested. Our curious swashbuckler discovered that all of these developments were being funded by just one family-owned organization.

Without skipping a beat, he met with the organization’s leadership and pushed for molding Pueblo de Panay as the Philippines’ answer to Silicon Valley. As it turned out, Jose Nery “Bub” Ong and Victoria Hariette Ong-Banzon – both Philippine Science High School or Pisay alumni – loved the idea. It was a chance for the Pisay-educated siblings to pay forward.

Road Runner

                     Assembling IT luminaries                  (Photo credit: Warner Brothers)

Moving like the Road Runner in that Warner Brothers cartoon, Jonathan sought out the IT industry movers and shakers and soon enough he had convened an impressive assemblage: Karrie Ilagan and Joel Garcia of Microsoft, Angel Redoble of the Philippine Institute of Cyber Security Professionals, Winston Cruz of the PSIA, Alvin Juban of the Game Development of the Philippines, Arup Maity of and BlastAsia, Joey Gurango of Proxor and Gurango Software, Jay Fajardo of Proud Cloud, Launchgarage and Medifi, Earl Valencia formerly of Ideaspace and the ubiquitous Don Felbaum of the American Chamber of Commerce.

Thou shalt break rules and dream

How did Jonathan achieve so much in so little time? I guess everybody loves an audacious idea. Spring Valley’s avowed goal  is to become the melting pot of all the talented technology experts and innovators in the (Asia) region in order to design, develop and deploy game-changing creations and inventions that will help make this world a better place – Asia Pacific’s answer to Silicon Valley!  Jonathan explains the appeal of Spring Valley further, “The mantra of the place is ‘Tech for Good’. Hence, when we educate and upgrade ‘citizens’ of Spring Valley. We also put special emphasis on the values formation. My favorite statement is – If I teach you how to break into the IT security system of the Pentagon, I also want to teach you that IT IS NOT OKAY to break into the IT security system of the Pentagon.”

Follow Spring Valley in LinkedIn

“Instead of thinking of Silicon Valley as this exceptional place, think of it as a result of the world’s biggest experiment—people running away from the rest of the world, strangers with diverse experience and talent  give rise to  a body of culture and invisible rules  and tribes of trust.”

  • Frederick E. Allen quoting venture capitalist Victor W. Hwang

Many cities have tried to be the next Silicon Valley and have failed miserably. Yes, it is important to have a good location but as Victor Hwang declares it is more important to build a tribe of trust, where like-minded people share ideas and not flash NDAs at each other. Jonathan’s parting words to me in our conversation is that he has high hopes that the rest (of Spring Valley’s story) will be history. Or will it?

Before I end, let me explain why I call Jonathan the Chief Chaos Monkey for Spring Valley. The reference comes from a book written by Antonio Garcia Martinez entitled – what else? – Chaos Monkeys. In the book Martinez describes a chimpanzee rampaging through a data center as an analogy for daring technology entrepreneurs disrupting society’s hallowed institutions and practices through an explosion of innovation. Not everyone will like the aftermath but the disruption is all but inevitable. It seems Jonathan is leading the charge for our little corner of the world.


I find it amusing and eminently apropos that Spring Valley has chosen a local monkey species as the mascot for the company.

I will tackle Jonathan’s high hopes for disruption in a succeeding blog. In the meantime, I am interested in hearing from the readers what they think of Jonathan’s (and  Bub’s and Hariette’s) audacity.

Spring Valley

The Twilight of the Captain

The Captain of the San Antonio Spurs walks off the basketball court for the last time

Last January 25, Tim Duncan sat out the game that San Antonio Spurs played against the Golden State Warriors. Duncan was suffering from an injury to his right knee – which was supposedly his good knee. Without their Captain, the Spurs lost that game.  Duncan would not return for several weeks although he did manage to last the regular season and even strove on until the Spurs’ playoffs campaign ended against the Oklahoma Thunder. Duncan went down with his team and his team, with him.

Struggling with two bad knees, we knew that Tim Duncan would likely retire after nineteen seasons with Spurs. We also knew that that last setback against OKC will not define Tim Duncan’s legacy.  And true enough since he announced his retirement, there have been heaps of articles in the usual sports magazines and online sports websites but also articles in Time Money, Entrepreneur, Huffington Post and the New York Times.

This is one more tribute to Tim Duncan (and the Spurs) and this Spurs fan’s attempt to explain that basketball team’s remarkable success that is unmatched by any other organization in all of the four major US professional sports leagues (NBA, NFL, NHL and Major League Baseball).


I personally liked Yaron Weitzman’s homage to Tim in SB Nation:

He, along with Gregg Popovich, transformed the small-market San Antonio Spurs into a powerhouse of a franchise, a team and organization, that every other one in world of professional sports has looked to emulate for years. And it all started with the man known as the Big Fundamental.

His game was never flashy, though to true basketball enthusiasts it was more beautiful than anyone else’s. The impeccable footwork from the low block. The genius-level understanding of defensive angles and positioning. The automatic bank shot off the glass. And, perhaps most important of all, the ability to lead by example and desire to empower the revered man now commonly referred to as Pop.

Read Yaron Weitzman’s SB Nation Article: Tim Duncan announces his retirement after a 19-year career

For all his basketball IQ, Tim Duncan’s success drew in equal measure from his chemistry with the rest of the team and his understated leadership. Rebekah Epstein’s article in Entrepreneur comes closest to my own views on the key ingredients to the success of Duncan and the Spurs.  Rebekah says that there are four leadership lessons that we can learn from the team:

  1. True confidence is quiet – no need to beat your chest when you post-up or point to the sky when you make a three, as Pop would say.
  2. Earning professional respect is the key to success
  3. Teamwork matters
  4. Being consistent counts

Read Rebekah Epstein’s article in Entrepreneur here.

Give more than you take, pull more than you push

Let me add a few more cents worth to Rebekah’s views.

Many fans as well as sports analysts acknowledge the quiet leadership of Duncan. No primal scream from the Spurs alpha dog when he scores that clutch shot. I will add that Duncan’s is not just quiet leadership; his is servant leadership. Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge all managed to achieve their individual potential because of the San Antonio culture that Duncan exemplified, i.e., leadership that is not associated with codes like power, selfishness and control but rather with harmony, community and teamwork. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said of Duncan, “His understated selflessness made him the ultimate teammate.”  In other words, he gave more than he took and pulled more than he pushed.

Servant leadership is rare not just in sports but also in business, in government and in almost any leadership environment because the behaviors it requires are both difficult and risky. Servant leaders spend a lot of time on sharing their learning and discovering paths for greater team success without regard for personal benefit other than the sense of self-replenishment and fulfillment that the positive team interactions provide. Servant leadership requires not just courage but also virtues such as humility and self-control, traits that can easily be interpreted as weaknesses in most leadership situations typically pervaded by greed, ego and aggression.

It requires true confidence be a quiet, servant leader. As Pop would say, Tim was already over himself even as a young man – something that you can tell even from the way he was totally oblivious to fashion.

Duncan Fashion

Timmy’s oversized fashion

Photo credit to Bar Stool Sports

The deadly art of teamwork

Teamwork makes the dream work

Teamwork makes the dream work

Tim Duncan is a master of the physics of a bank shot. He is also a virtuoso of the dynamics of the pick-and-roll.  Basketball is a science and Duncan is its Leonardo da Vinci.

While we recognize great scientists like Darwin, Newton or Einstein, none of these scientists achieved their work alone.  You can be sure that the greater the scientific achievement, the greater the number of good scientists that have collaborated on it. Did you realize, for instance, that the giant particle collider in Switzerland has more than 7,000 physicists regularly participating in its experiments?

No matter what the fans of Kobe Bryant may think, basketball is team sport just like true science. The Spurs game relies on rapid ball movement taking place with constant player movement. The team is like a perpetual motion machine on the court. There is no designated shooter in any play; instead, the team relies on always making that extra pass to throw the opponents’ defense off. When the opportunity presents itself – Swooosh!

The Spurs pursue their science with a passion and in the process turn it into art – the deadly art of teamwork!

Watch The Beautiful Game, a Tribute to the San Antonio Spurs.

Beautiful Game

Turning the worst moments into the best

Success did not come easy for Tim – far from it. Every success always came at the heels of failure and pain.

At first, Tim always wanted to be a swimmer. He learned basketball only after Hurricane Hugo destroyed the only Olympic Sized pool in his hometown of Saint Croix. Then, his mother died of breast cancer one day before his 14th birthday. Before she passed away, she made him promise to complete his college education. Tim concentrated on his education and basketball to help relieve the pain of loss of a parent.

When he first started playing, he was horribly awkward in the court. It was only his height– and the perception of Coach Dave Odom that he was extraordinarily focused and that he was learning rapidly – that kept him in the Wake Forest team. He did learn fast and by the time that he completed four years of college, he was already the all-time leading rebounder in the post-1973 NCAA. That was enough to earn him the first draft pick for the San Antonio Spurs in 1997. Behind the twin towers of Duncan and David Robinson, San Antonio won its first ever NBA Championship in the 1998-99 season.

Then disaster struck again. Duncan tore cartilage in his left knee playing against the Sacramento Kings in April 2000. He has to miss the rest of the Regular Season as well as the Playoffs that year. Again, it was Tim’s deep desire to win that allowed him to rapidly recover by the next season. It could have been a career ending injury but instead became the turning point when the mantle of Spurs leadership was finally transferred from Dave Robinson to Tim Duncan.

Each of the worst moments always led to the best and in the course of 19 years, the Spurs had become the most respected team in the NBA. Last January Tim Duncan went down with his team and his team with him. His injuries led Tim to retire. I just can’t wait for what happens next in the Alamo.



This is your team now

Featured image courtesy of


Peter Dizikes, The Twilight of Idols, New York Times,  November 5, 2006

Jim L. Heskett, Why Isn’t ‘Servant Leadership’ More Prevalent?, Working Knowledge, Harvard Business School, May 1, 2013

Great Man Theory, Wikipedia

Can the Pan de Sal Shrink Even More?

In this installment of Pinoy Ekonomiks, we use the ever shrinking pan de sal as a metaphor for the demon of inflation (My daughter says that Jollibee’s peach mango pie is a more interesting metaphor, though.)

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported on July 5 that inflation rose by 1.9% in June, up from the 1.6% recorded in May. Former UP Economics Professor and now NEDA Director-General Ernesto Pernia attributed the increase to the residual effects of the weakening El Niño and the slight recovery of oil prices. Gas and other fuels, housing and electricity prices pushed non-food inflation to 0.9%. Disturbingly, food prices rose by 3% with the drought in some provinces affecting different food groups, notably vegetables and livestock. The immediately preceding NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan has expressed concern about the higher than average increase in the cost of food and its impact on poverty levels. Balisacan has stressed that “Food price inflation [is] the main culprit. The very high prices of food wipe out the gains in per capita income of poor Filipinos. If not for inflation, we would have inclusive growth.”

This installment of Pinoy Ekonomiks tackles the topic of inflation and examines whether this should cause concern to the general public during these times of change.

What is inflation?

Inflation is a term used to refer to the general level of prices going up. When there’s inflation we will need more money to pay for goods (like dinorado rice or a loaf of pan de sal) and services (like the cost of the jeepney ride from Ayala to Mantrade). Inflation can be generally attributed to money in circulation growing at a faster rate that the production of goods and services in an economy – in short, too much money chasing too few goods.

Money is the lifeblood of commerce. It is the medium or the means by which all exchanges of goods and services in an economy occur. Naturally as the economy grows, the government has to print more money in order to permit the market to operate efficiently. In a well-managed economy, the level of prices of goods and services should remain stable and inflation should be well in control.

When government prints money faster than the rate of growth of the economy (usually measured through GDP growth), this tends to push prices up as more money compete for a limited supply of items. For the ordinary citizen, this translates into getting less for the same money that he or she used to be able to get. When inflation is not controlled over a long period of time, the economic disruption it causes can ultimately slow GDP growth.

Philippine inflation

Ilang Cornetto lang ang 500 pesos?  (Photo credit: Jamich FB page)

Inflation and the poor

Inflation affects different people to different extents. When inflation rises, fixed wage earners straightaway have to spend more of the money to buy the same things that they used to be able to buy for less. The owner of the neighborhood 24-hour grocery can at least raise the prices of some or all of the goods he sells in order to offset the impact of inflation.

While inflation usually causes the purchasing power of the entire nation to fall, its ugliest effect is the wholesale transfer of wealth from poor people and the middle class to the wealthy individuals and the large corporate monopolies. Many economic studies have observed that the most important contributing factor to increasing poverty and hunger is inflation in the cost of living.  Even short-term spikes in inflation are extremely painful for the poor.

Poverty statistics simple

Give us this day … lower inflation (Photo credit BusinessWorld)

Can government affect inflation?

Politicians love to spend but do not want to raise taxes because higher taxes are extremely unpopular. When the government spends more than it earns through taxes, it will have to borrow money from financial institutions. This is called deficit spending or deficit financing. When the government expands the money supply to finance its debts, it feeds the beast called inflation. The more aggressive the deficit spending, the more uncontrollable the beast becomes.

Without any question, run-away inflation destroys economies. We can see this in the tragic spectacle of 500+% inflation in Venezuela today. This has led to a complete meltdown in law and order and demonstrates the appalling incompetence of the government of President Nicolas Maduro. Unfortunately, we do not have to look far for more examples. The massive deficit spending of the Marcos regime in the late 70s and early 80s led to a stunning collapse in the Philippine economy that took two decades to recover from.

The wanton fiscal practices of the Marcos years have served as backdrop to the fiscal caution practiced by the Aquino administration over the last six years. The wisdom of the fiscal conservatism displayed by the immediately preceding government has been widely recognized by the international credit rating institutions, by the multilateral financial institutions like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, and by businessmen and investors generally. The Philippines achieved investment grade status under President Aquino.

The current Budget Secretary, Benjamin Diokno however has come out with guns blazing, claiming “The Department of Finance [under Aquino] sees underspending as virtue, calling it “fiscal space,” but to me I see it as epic incompetence.” Diokno added that the administration of Mr. Duterte plans a further hike in infrastructure spending to up to 7 percent of the economy this year, higher than the 5 percent target of the previous government.

The Budget Secretary assured that “The Duterte administration will not spend money for spending’s sake.” Diokno further told the Inquirer, “The economy is deficient in all types of infrastructure—highways and bridges, ports and airports. Specific infrastructure projects to be pursued by the Duterte government include “small, medium and large-scale projects [that] will be done in all regions—[both] highly developed and lagging—simultaneously, not sequentially.”

Benjamin Diokno

We need more spending, my preciousss (Photo credit

The Budget Secretary’s intentions are clearly laudable but, sadly, begs the question. Many of the infrastructure projects to be pursued by the current administration were in fact already drawn up during the Arroyo and Aquino administrations. Spending on the array of projects already on the drawing board would have been the easiest thing for the previous administration.  Recall that politicians just love to spend our money. This is precisely what Marcos did several decades back – with much gusto. Clearly there is more than meets the eye here.

There was a lot of debate about the Philippine economy’s “absorptive capacity” around the time the country achieved investment grade status. Some analysts argued that the Philippine economy needed to hike its absorptive capacity in order to utilize large inflows expected following the country’s enhanced credit status. Borrowed funds should be channeled carefully to the most productive infrastructure investments in order to avoid asset bubble formations, the analysts added.

We will explore the concepts of absorptive capacity and asset bubbles in the next installment in this series. For now, suffice it to say that economists argue that there are a whole set of macroeconomic, institutional, policy, technical, operational and other constraints, (e.g., corruption) that keep an economy from gaining the greatest benefit from a sudden and massive increase in government spending. It appears that there is such a thing as indigestion from too much money – like winning the Lotto and not knowing what to do with all the cash.

Confused about money

I don’t have the absorptive capacity for this….

Before we embark on aggressive spending, there should be an extensive and open discussion on the economy’s absorptive capacity. The nightmare of the Marcos years leads us to appreciate the dangers of irresponsible public finance. We now recognize that there is a fine line between bold and decisive public spending and reckless and simplistic deficit financing. Clearly an increase in spending should be lock-in-step with a reform program that expands the economy’s absorptive capacity. What does this reform program look like under the Duterte administration, Secretary Diokno?

Peach mango pie

Photo credit Kim Agnes,

Despite all the good intentions, reckless and simplistic deficit spending can only feed the demon of inflation – and shrink the pan de sal and the peach mango pie yet again. In an economy where people can only purchase the products they need in small sachets and the common pan de sal is already tiny, the smallest mistake can be truly costly.


Photo by Katherine Visconti,

Next Week:  We discuss absorptive capacity and asset bubbles in a post entitled: Lotto Winners Do Not Really Win

Featured Image: Photo credit to Amalissa Uytingco, The Culture-ist


Inflation rises by 1.9% in June 2016,, July 5, 2016.

Inflation is Eating Our Lunch, Lila Ramos Shahani, The Philippine Star, March 16, 2015.

Duterte admin to hike infrastructure spending to up to 7% of GDP, Ben O. de Vera, Philippine Daily Inquirer, June 3, 2016

Gov’t underspending is ‘epic incompetence’ – Diokno, Chris Schnabel,, August 7, 2015.

Phl economy needs better absorptive capacity – analysts, Prinz Magtulis, The Philippine Star, May 8, 2013