Business challenges motivate this Filipino software firm to excel
() - February 13, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The popularity of social media and an ever-pervasive Internet is changing business paradigms all across the globe, but for Orange & Bronze (O&B), these challenges motivate the company to excel even further.

O&B is a 100-percent Filipino owned software development company attempting to make a mark not only in the Philippines but also abroad by showcasing Filipino talent in the area of software development.

The company prides itself in its youthful, yet highly-skilled workforce and a non-traditional approach to business. The company is perhaps one of the very few Filipino firms that have a partnership with US technology behemoth and leading Internet company Google.

According to Calen Legaspi, co-founder of O&B, the Internet and social media have been very good developments for the company, since practically all its projects involve internet technologies, and very often social media requirements as well.

“As a matter of strategy, our company is always an early adopter of technologies that we predict will be strategic for us in the future, and this strategy has paid off because we have the skills to implement projects that other firms are yet unable to,” he says.

The company has over a hundred personnel, mostly software developers, software architects, and technology trainers who produce and create software applications for local and foreign companies. Many foreign companies outsource their software requirements, and O&B’s core business is supplying this requirement.

For O&B, its non-traditional approach to business and its youthful workforce compliment perfectly the business experiences of the company founders. Calen and co-founder Butch Landingin are both veterans in the information technology (IT) industry. Calen, who sits as company CEO, is a board director of the Philippine Software Industry Association  (PSIA) and has many years of hands-on software development experience. Butch, who is O&B’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO) has been developing software for more than two decades, and has spent many years in Silicon Valley in the US developing applications for the retail industry. With this impressive track record, Calen and Butch continue to guide O&B as it strives to compete in the global stage and provide opportunities to its growing number of highly-skilled staff.

Calen says the goal of joining the “big boys” of the global software development industry—mostly foreign companies based in Silicon Valley—is not “easy.” But the executive believes O&B has what it takes to reach its lofty goals and meet challenges and the competition from foreign firms setting up shop in the country. Calen says more foreign firms are settling in the country, but many Filipino firms are rapidly expanding as well, including O&B. “The fact that so many tech firms in the Philippines are locating and thriving is a good sign. It is the most definitive sign that IT, and specifically software development, is an area of strength and competitive advantage of the Philippines,” Calen adds.

To motivate its Filipino workforce, Calen says O&B employs a non-traditional approach to business including a novel work culture and a focus on providing growth opportunities to its Filipino staff. The office is not your typical Makati office, and workers are encouraged to work together and brainstorm in an office set-up that encourages collaboration, creativity, and “free thinking.” This would mean having an office where cubicles are not used and instead, the office has a relaxed atmosphere with minimal restrictions in terms of facilities and with no dress code.

Output is a premium at O&B, Calen says, which is why its workforce is often given significant creative leeway to work on various projects. The management team empowers employees at all levels to make critical decisions on projects they are assigned at, and provides continuous training to staff to enhance their decision-making and leadership skills. “Every software professional in the company knows that their most important objective is to make the client happy. Beyond that, we impose relatively much fewer rules than most companies,” Calen says.

O&B also seeks to enhance the culture of learning throughout the organization through various employee programs including mentorship, technopreneurship, and corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, each with a goal to improve technical, relational and business skills, as well as create a positive impact to the community. Calen says this is part of the company’s aim to provide “work-life balance” and assist employees in meeting their work, family, education and personal goals, while contributing to society.

Beyond business, the company has many programs that provide opportunities for knowledge sharing to students, training university professors, and other community development-based projects. This is a cause that O&B strongly believes in, because Calen knows that the Filipino software engineer can do so much better, and the foundation of the Filipino youth’s competitiveness lies in the academe. “Despite the many challenges in maintaining academic excellence, there are dozens of colleges and universities throughout the country producing highly-skilled IT professionals, competitive with the best in the world.  The root of the problem is that these good schools are the tiny, tiny minority,” he says. This has pushed the company to organize free technology talks, training seminars and other learning sessions for different universities and organizations throughout the country.

The future looks bright for O&B with plans for expansion and an initial public offering or IPO. “Yes, we are looking at strength of five hundred software professionals within three to five years, then an IPO. While five hundred is not as large as the multinational firms, the focus of O&B are high-value product-engineering and systems-engineering projects, while most multinational firms are focused on low-value maintenance work. Our five hundred software professionals will be working on cutting-edge projects, not maintaining old technologies,” Calen says.

Outside of its Makati operations, the company also plans to expand in other areas in the Philippines. “We are looking to open two or three offices in cities where there are high concentrations of good schools producing good graduates, but low concentration of competing firms,” Calen says.

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