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Local software developers recently had a chance to interact with the international community to form business alliances in a three-day event organized by Microsoft Philippines.

The event, dubbed as Software Innovations Philippines 2006, the largest software industry event ever to be organized in the country, showcased best-of-breed software solutions in the Philippines and provided a venue to boost Filipino software development and outsourcing talent during the three-day exhibition and conference at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel.

"With Software Innovations Philippines, we were able to bring under one roof all the key players in the software industry: the independent software vendors, the venture capitalists and investors, government policy-makers, industry analysts, and the customers. We believe that the sparks created during the various presentations, panel discussions and networking sessions during the event have convinced everyone about the great potentials of this sector to achieve greater success," said Antonio Javier, Managing Director, Microsoft Philippines.

Software Innovations Philippines 2006 is a first-of-its-kind gathering that showcased the Philippine software sector in three areas: business processes, mobile connectivity and personal lifestyle practices.

A key highlight of the event was the business matching opportunity in the Business Pavilion that saw the presence of representatives including venture capitalists and investors from the IT Association of America, Northern Virginia Technology Council, Singapore IT Association, National Outsourcing Association of Europe, International Business Council UK, among others. Trade representatives from Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and the Middle East were also present to discuss the offerings of the local software industry's best. A series of over 84 meetings were held which in turn paved the way for countless opportunities for the 37 participating companies.

"By spurring interaction between Filipino software vendors and firms such as ours, we were able to realize the large potential that developers in this market present. The fact that most of the local ISVs possess the sophistication our current and future customers expect, along with the utilization of industry standard platforms like the Windows operating system, this conference definitely brought the country into the foreign markets' radar and it is a great first step to put the Philippines in the map," Mr. Sanj Prabhakar, Director of the National Outsourcing Association of Europe said.

Another highlight of the event was the CEO Forum which where select executives of the IT and IT enabled services (ITES) sector exchanged ideas on how to accelerate the growth of the Philippine software industry.

Speaking for the first time on the role of Information Technology, House Speaker Jose De Venecia, in his keynote speech likewise highlighted the government's vision to make the Philippines a global center for IT and IT Enabled Services. He praised the world-class solutions of many Filipino software companies such as stag Philippines, BizBox, Inc, and G-Soft Solutions.

"The solutions on display all testify to the innovative spirit of the Filipino-to our capacity to develop world-class software-and to the ability of our software industry to create high-paying jobs for our 50,000 or so college graduates who set out on IT careers yearly.", Speaker De Venecia stated.
He also lauded local software industry-partner Microsoft Philippines by saying, "I am aware of a five year program developed last year-again with the help of Microsoft Philippines and others-by the Philippine Software Industry Association: this is a roadmap to development which it calls "Fly High: Philippine Software 2010. Such a road map can start to consider the need to pole-vault development of the Philippine software industry to achieve breakthrough growth in the next five years and dramatically enhance the value of its exports."

Aside from the activities in the Business Pavilion, innovative software technologies in the areas of mobility and personal computing were also showcased in the Mobile and Digital Home Pavilions.

Young people demonstrated the use of Globe Telecom's G-Cash and showcased the latest wireless and mobile technologies, including Wi-Max, Wi-Fi, 3G, Edge, Bluetooth and other trends in mobile commuting to guests who dropped by the beach and park settings in the Quezon Ballroom. Personal Digital Assistants (PDA), Smartphones and Portable Media Centers running on Windows Mobile 5.0 - most of which have never been seen before by the public - were available for hands-on trial.

Guests also experienced the exciting convergence of computing and entertainment at the digital home environment created by Microsoft and key technology partner Intel at the Makati and Manila Rooms. Visitors to the Digital Home exhibit got a firsthand experience of how Microsoft Windows Media Center works as the control center of all the entertainment and computing gadgets in a home, changing the way people live, enjoy entertainment, and manage shared information. Intel, which was a major sponsor at the Microsoft-led software conference, showcased its Entertainment and Media Center PC in a specially designed digital home pavilion.

According to Javier, aside from exhibiting emerging technologies, one of the main objectives for Software Innovations Philippines 2006 is really to fire up global opportunities for local software developers. "Microsoft believes in the skills capabilities of Filipino developers and we want our foreign counterparts to leverage on these skills to add more value to their business," added Javier.

There are at least 300 software development firms in the Philippines and over 4,900 certified Microsoft professionals. Software solutions providers in the Philippines offer a wide range of services including analysis and design, prototyping, programming and testing, customization, reengineering and conversion, installation and maintenance, education and training of systems software, middleware and application software, and software development management.

Software Innovations Philippines 2006 was spearheaded by Microsoft Philippines, in partnership with Intel, G-Xchange, and Fortune Magazine, and supported by the Philippine Software Industry Association (PSIA) Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPA/P), the Center for International Expositions and Missions (CITEM) of the DTI and the Commission on Information & Communications Technology (CICT).
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