2009 – Challenging Year for the I-Café Industry

All is not lost for the i-café industry in the Philippines for 2009. Faced with the challenges that lies ahead as the global financial crisis takes it toll, this year would be a chance for the players of the industry to consider what lies ahead as challenges for change instead of being obstacles.

  • Go Beyond the Jeepney Mentality – Since its invention, the jeepney was considered to be a purely Filipino invention that is here to stay. No one in the industry believed that something could take its place in the transportation sector. The manufacturers of the jeepney fell into a sense of complacency that they did not consider making innovations in the basic jeepney design. When Toyota came out with an Asian Utility Vehicle (AUV) design that made a great impact on the riding public, they were proven wrong. Nowadays, instead of the jeepney being the king of the road, it is steadily being replaced with the FX taxis which offer greater comfort to the riding public.

The same is true with the i-café owners. They should not be  satisfied with their present business models. It could have worked in the past but it might not survive the challenges of the future. The internet cafe operator should change his mindset of relying purely on computer rental but should learn new skills in information technology that they could incorporate into their business model.

  • Don’t put your eggs into only one basket – successful entrepreneurs would tell you that in order to be successful in business one must be able to set up a variety of business enterprise that would compliment each other. They have not concentrated their effort and money in a single enterprise that if one suffers they would have another one that they could rely on to. As the i-café owner develops his market, he should try to find out other needs of his customers so that he could also cater to their needs. Go beyond the basic internet cafe services by providing additional services based on the needs of your customers.
  • Professionalize the industry – the basic problem that is facing the internet cafe industry such as the use of pirated software and the pricing issue could be solved by professionalizing the players of the internet cafe industry. The internet cafe associations in each municipality should strive in educating their members in order to professionalize them. These issues could be solved most especially in pricing if the café owner realizes that he belongs to a very dynamic industry that contributes to a lot of changes that is happening in the community. The world of today is far more different compared to in the past and the i-café owner plays a very important role in the community in as an internet access provider or connecting the community to a much bigger world of the internet.
  • Expand and Upgrade – I-café owners would think that this is a very crazy preposition. Why in a time of crisis would you further expand and upgrade the facilities considering the shrinking market? This would be the best time to expand and upgrade considering the prices of computer hardware is at its lowest level. One would have to consider that the i-café industry is still an industry based on numbers. The more computers that you have most especially in gaming the better since there are players who would like to play in large groups. A much faster computer system in numbers would be much better in attracting customers than any type of promotions.
  • Create new markets and services – Go beyond computer rental as the basic services. Add additional services in your internet cafes such as tutorial services on computer operations to students, out of school youths and the elderly. Cater to other markets like the bloggers and subscribers of social networking sites not only gamers. As schools and other business enterprise looks for opportunities to save money on their operations, the café owners should consider creating a business model on outsourcing.
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