Manila Electric Company: Transformation powered by technology and tradition

Meralco accelerates digital transformation through culture, leadership and tech investments with Microsoft


COVID-19 has prompted even the most traditional businesses to quickly embrace the “new normal”. Organizations of all shapes and sizes have activated tech investments and transformation initiatives to maintain operational capacity. But despite the challenging circumstances brought about by this unprecedented time, the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) is hitting its stride in its journey of digital transformation.

Transformation Grounded on Culture

Assuming the role of President and Chief Executive Officer of Meralco in May 2019, Atty. Ray C. Espinosa quickly set out to revamp Meralco’s technology strategy. Beyond the need for all organizations in this day and age to transform, he also recognized the opportunity presented by the company’s innate, agile work culture to drive innovation and transform the company into a digital-driven powerhouse.

He empowered employees to be more involved in company discussions and synergized its different management levels to promote and cultivate a more open environment. These efforts laid the groundwork for strong business continuity plans built on technology, creating a resilient and connected organization.

“Over the years, Meralco gradually came into this culture of adaptability that is distinctly ours. It’s a key strength of this company and it’s not something we stumbled upon, it’s something we built. That kind of culture is the best foundation to build upon—through technology—to achieve growth and transformation,” Espinosa said.

Empowerment Through Technology

Primed by its culture and leadership, Meralco turned to investments in technology, adopting new solutions as well as maximizing existing ones in order to transform their 117-year-old organization into an enterprise of the digital age.

Microsoft 365 is one such investment that their Information, Communication, Technology and Transformation (ICT and Transformation) group has focused on maximizing in recent months, especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The unified communication and collaboration platform enables Meralco employees to collaborate seamlessly through innovative Office apps, intelligent cloud services and world-class security.

In response to COVID-19, and as a directive from the President and CEO, Meralco’s Human Resources launched Code Light last April 2020, a communications application built on Microsoft technology. Code Light’s chatbot feature allows employees to report daily work and update their health status and wellness during the ECQ to allow the company to do contact tracing when necessary. Within days, Meralco reached 98% response rate from its 5,700-employee population.

Following this, Meralco’s Human Resources Group launched their Rapid Testing System, last May 2020, which is also built on Microsoft technology. This application assists Meralco’s Corporate Wellness Center in administering rapid testing to their employees working on site, allowing them to log the employee data, record test results, assist probable COVID-19 patients, and facilitate ‘Fit to Work’ notices to our employees. To date, Meralco has successfully administered over 12,000 tests for their employees, contractors and subsidiaries.

“Technology has enabled us to transform and given us new ways to efficiently manage our personnel, ensure their security, health and safety amidst COVID-19,” Chief Information Technology Officer and Vice President for ICT and Transformation of Meralco Rocky D. Bacani said. “We continue to explore how we can maximize our investments and create new solutions for our employees and our customers. But while we’re focused on responding to the situation at hand, we acknowledge that we must also look to what comes next.”

The New Normal and Beyond

In 2018, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella introduced the concept of Tech Intensity, recognizing that while the integration of technology is essential, companies need to take things further by leveraging tech to innovate and develop new solutions for lasting transformation and a competitive edge. With this formula in mind, Meralco has taken the next meaningful steps in its transformation—empowering its employees and infusing technology into its rich culture.

“Not too long ago, we as an organization—through the vision and leadership of our CEO—recognized the urgent need to transform ourselves. When companies come into this realization, the instinctive reaction is to add—people, brands, products, investments—but the first step should be to take a look at the foundation on which you build your transformation and start there. That foundation is your people and the culture you have within your company. Great things are happening in Meralco and we’re committed to empowering them every step of the way,” Microsoft Philippine Country General Manager Andres Ortola said.

“Our partnership with Microsoft allows us to maximize and grow our most valuable resource—our people and the culture they have created within this organization. We look forward to what’s ahead and to working together to create a greater impact within our organizations and the people we serve,” Espinosa added.