SEV helps Greek businesses in their path to digital transformation
Συνέντευξη κας Μάγκυ Αθανασιάδη, Διευθύντριας Τομέα Βιομηχανίας, Ανάπτυξης, Τεχνολογίας & Καινοτομίας στην ετήσια έκδοση: “DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION IN GREECE 2022-2023” του Found.ation
How does SEV help Greek businesses in their path to Digital Transformation?
SEV works consistently to support Greek businesses adapt to the realities and needs of our digital economy and society. Its work on digital transformation is organized around three pillars: building business capacities, developing human skills, and advocating for effective policies. The first pillar involves business capacity building and information sharing about new OT/IT trends, opportunities, risks, benefits and best practices. This is done through specialized meetings with experts, workshops, seminars and networking events on topics such as IoT, AI, cloud technologies, connectivity, cybersecurity, digital twins, workflow automations, and so on. Such activities are addressed to all SEV members, regardless of their size, sector or location. The second pillar, digital skills, centers on mobilizing businesses, as well as academic and vocational training institutions, to help the economy and society move faster towards the digital era. SEV collaborates with Universities and research centers to this end, given that some 85% of jobs that humans will perform by 2030 have yet to be developed and will be directly related with the digital transition. As part of the third pillar, SEV advocates for policies and incentives to help Greek enterprises integrate digital tools and new technologies into their operation and management processes, afford costs of the digital transition, and invest in digital training. For example, as a Social Partner, SEV is actively engaged in consultations on new funding schemes for digital transformation under RRF and EU’s structural funds 2021-2027 (aka ESPA). Recently announced tools respond to different business levels of digital maturity, while application and evaluation procedures are simplified and faster. SEV advocacy is also related with digital governance and enhanced digital interactions between public administration and businesses. A lot has already changed on that front, and hopefully more is coming.
What are the biggest challenges of Industry 4.0 for Greek enterprises? Which sectors have fallen behind and which are considered pioneers?
Greek businesses are starting their digital transition from quite a low starting point compared to European economies, or other competitors. According to DESI 2022, and despite progress since 2019, Greek enterprises are still underperforming their EU counterparts in terms of integrating digital technologies, ranking 22/27. The longer it takes to bridge the gap, the bigger the competitiveness loss. Therefore, it is important not only to move forward, but also at a much faster pace. Regardless of the sector – be it industrial manufacturing, food processing, logistics, pharmaceuticals, retail, ICT, services – the businesses that stand out are the ones that are already envisioning a digital future.
Which technologies or tools should Greek businesses focus on in 2023? How can they stay relevant and competitive at a global level?
There is an interesting paradox here. Greek enterprises invest in their digital transformation more than the EU average, ranking 11/27 according to DESI 2022. However, most investment is in I3.0 or I2.0 tools, rather than in cutting-edge technologies like AI and machine learning, IoT, AR, etc. Furthermore, only 39% of Greek SMEs have at least a basic level of digital intensity, compared to the EU average of 55%. Bearing that in mind, SEV works to help businesses develop a digital mindset and adopt advanced technologies as sine qua non factors of value creation and competitiveness.
How much has the digital transformation of the public sector helped Greek enterprises in the last two years?
The change is obvious, as 21% of digital services available on the gov.gr platform involve digital interaction between businesses and public administration. Digitalizing processes, and simplifying them along the way, makes a difference in terms of saving time and resources, as recent SEV research confirms. It should be noted that, during the pandemic, emphasis was given on digital interaction with citizens, and rightly so. Enterprises are now eager to see more digital steps related with doing business and investment, such as interoperability of different public administration platforms and registries, or digitalizing processes related with state aid, taxation, public procurement, commerce, trade, logistics, cargo, invoicing and the supply chain.
What are your predictions or hopes for the year ahead?
Let’s start with the hope that it will be more peaceful! Consecutive crises in the last years have shown us that predictions make little sense. However, change is a constant, and in particular technological change. I hope that Greek enterprises will see the opportunities that technological change offers, and act on it, by not being afraid to explore alternative I4.0 solutions for their production and operation processes. Given that €0,5bn is already available to enterprises under the RRF and ESPA, we can be both pragmatic and optimistic about the future of the economy’s digital transition.