This year’s Greek Economic Summit marks the 30th anniversary of a remarkable annual happening. In its three consecutive decades, AmCham’s hugely successful flagship conference has established itself as an indispensable institution featuring prime ministers, key government ministers and deputy ministers, U.S. ambassadors, high-ranking officials, and top politicians, academics, diplomats and business executives from Greece, Europe and the United States.
In anticipation of this year’s Summit, this issue’s Thought Leaders discuss Greece’s dynamic efforts to turn over a new leaf and enter a sustainable path of growth and competitiveness, look at the latest trends that will help get us out of the woods, and elucidate on how their respective sectors can contribute to turning the odds in the country’s favor.
While young people emigrated in search of a better and more stable working environment, little was done to reverse the negative climate
For over a decade, Greece demonstrated very weak financial performance and failed to offer a friendly entrepreneurial environment capable of attracting foreign investments. Greece’s per capita income is among the lowest in the EU, the population is aging rapidly, and while young people emigrated in search of a better and more stable working environment, little was done to reverse the negative climate.
With this in mind, Minister of Development and Infrastructure Adonis Georgiadis put forward a bill aiming to transform Greece’s ability to generate new wealth and jobs, improve the business environment and attract new investments. Following a public consultation, the bill was recently adopted by the Greek Parliament (Law 4635/2019) and was published in the Government Gazette (A’ 167/30.10.2019) under the title “Investing in Greece and other provisions.” Some of the new law’s main focal points are:
- It amends existing legislation (Law 4608/2019) on strategic investments in order to accelerate the licensing of strategic investments and to introduce more flexible provisions.
- It simplifies auditing and certification processes for the completion of subsidized projects with the aim to accelerate the granting of various investment aids.
- It advances digital transformation in Greece in the domain of radio equipment and electronic communications.
- It includes provisions for the mandatory e-filing of judicial documents with the administrative courts.
- It provides for the creation of a single consolidated digital map aiming to eliminate delays in the development phase of investments and boost investor confidence in the implementation of investments in Greece.
- It introduces a number of provisions aiming to facilitate the environmental licensing process or address loopholes in the existing legislation.
- It streamlines licensing procedures for businesses, facilitates the establishment of businesses in business parks and simplifies the operation of said parks.
- It introduces a number of revisions in the function of the Commercial Registry (GEMI) aiming to harmonize the registration and publication requirements applying to all types of legal entities and notably to accelerate the process of registration of the publicized information through various measures adopted.
- It amends the existing legislation on the pursuit of economic activities relating to, indicatively, agriculture, farming, quarries, processing activities, wholesale and retail, hotel and catering operations etc. regulated by Law 4442/2016, in order to simplify and accelerate the licensing procedure as well to harmonize the regulatory regime for the operation of various economic activities.
- It gives an end to the long-lived temporary regime of transitional gaming licenses and promotes full market regulation in order to ensure effective player protection and sound competition.
In line with these reforms, recent government announcements have confirmed that a tax bill is also expected to be passed by the end of November which will include a provision stipulating the suspension of VAT for three years for all building permits (new and pending as of 2006). The tax bill is also expected to introduce an exemption for expenses incurred from January 1, 2020, and will concern the energy, functional and aesthetic upgrading of all types and use of real estate.
It now remains to be seen whether these reforms will indeed improve the Greek investment environment, attract investors and help the Greek economy to experience the long-awaited growth and… development.
AI-Enabled Technologies and Analytics Entrepreneurship: A Critical Driving Role for Innovation in a Future AI-Driven Economy
By Nikos Peppas, Country Manager Greece and Eastern Europe, SAS
The rise of analytics and AI is redefining economic and business models. The influence of AI on the activities and competitiveness of an organization extends to disruptive value creation and competitive advantage modeling. SAS has introduced the concept of an “analytics economy” to describe and capture the development and transformation of almost every aspect and domain of our daily lives, including government, business, and society.
Increase in productivity is not achieved by longer working hours
Data is the new currency, revolutionizing the workplace while challenging the role of human beings in data-driven organizations. Data speeds up innovation and disruption in order to extract value. And this is without doubt the age of data.
The analytics economy is powered by technology, with AI, machine learning and advanced analytics as its main ambassadors. These are transforming the way businesses (across all sectors) and professionals communicate and provide services to customers, who experience new socio-economic ways of doing business, entertaining, living, and traveling.
This rapid conceptual shift in recent years—including IoT, cloud computing, big data and AI—is making people believe that the workforce could be replaced by intelligent machines. AI can allow people to focus on parts of their business roles that add more value, increasing productivity and efficiency of human resources and providing the workforce with new tools to leverage their natural intelligence. Indeed, according to a recent Accenture survey, AI is expected to increase labor productivity by 40% by 2035. Analytics and AI will enable superior talent management through the digital transformation of human resource management.
This increase in productivity is not achieved by longer working hours but instead by innovative technologies that will enable people to make more productive use of their time in and outside the workplace. Businesses and countries with the culture and infrastructure to incorporate the innovation and disruption brought by analytics and AI in a timely and effective manner will see their economies double in half the time needed by today’s standards, claims a McKinsey study. Nevertheless, according to another McKinsey study, only 8% of companies effectively scale their analytics initiatives. This means that AI talents and valuable time and work are not properly utilized, which translates into missed opportunities for the businesses.
It is important that, apart from the cultural shift and the investment in education, companies effectively leverage the right technology, a technology which can adjust the right talent management model in their business strategy, and thus attract the best and most talented candidates in the job market, in order to deploy innovation initiatives effectively.
For more than four decades, SAS has been continuously investing in the creation of analytics and AI technologies and solutions that transform the way businesses conduct business. The SAS Analytics Platform is an open platform that gives executives and businesses the freedom of choice and flexibility to access advanced analytics and AI through any interface regardless of programming language and infrastructure, either on premise or on cloud. It offers options that are geared towards allowing users to seamlessly integrate open source tools as part of the analytics lifecycle.
Consequently, it enables both rapid experimentation and improved control of entire big data sets, centralized management throughout the analytics cycle, from data preparation to model development and from model deployment.
In Quest for a Prosperous Future for All: Where Technology and People Meet
By Theodosis Michalopoulos, CEO, Microsoft Greece, Cyprus and Malta
In the aftermath of the financial crisis, the words on everyone’s lips in Greece are “growth” and “development.” Add “sustainable and inclusive,” and it becomes clear what success looks like for our country for the years to come.
In a world transformed by technology, sustainable growth is inextricably linked to the adoption of emerging technologies. The implementation of the latest technological solutions, such as AI, will upgrade the existing workforce and capital, providing the necessary boost to both the public and private sectors.
We need to ensure everyone is equipped with the skills to thrive in the digital economy
Fortunately, Greece is on the rise while innovative technologies are also emerging worldwide. Whether it be adopting blockchain, increased transaction transparency, broad use of IoT, or early adoption of AI across industries, –there is potential for tech adoption to augment growth in Greece.
According to Accenture’s “With an AI to the Future” study (in collaboration with Microsoft, May 2019), the adoption of AI could translate into a GDP increase of 190 billion over a 15-year period as a result of AI enhancement of existing human resources and capital, the adoption of intelligent automation, and the general boost to Greek innovation that these technologies would introduce.
To that end, we provide our customers and partners with evolved cloud tech, the fundamentals to build advanced solutions or to optimize their business practices and operations. Our goal is to provide the necessary provisions to anyone willing to embrace the future and become a technological leader in their field.
However, embracing technological innovation is just one part of the equation; the other part, possibly more significant, is making the necessary investment in human resources. As businesses and industries are changing, it is becoming obvious that technology alone is not enough to drive digital transformation, give a competitive edge and deliver growth—it needs to be complemented by an upgrade of existing workforce and talent. Increasingly, employers are seeking a blend of traditional, digital and soft skills. The average person will have five careers in their lifetime, making learning a lifelong pursuit. We need to ensure everyone is equipped with the skills to thrive in the digital economy.
To that end, we undertake initiatives focused on the digital upskilling of businesses as well as people. Microsoft Learn, for example, is a free-to-use open platform, providing a variety of learning paths, courses and content designed to help educate people on cloud technologies, whereas Microsoft AI Business School is an online platform targeted in supporting business professionals to design and implement their AI strategy.
Especially for the Greek market, we design and deliver localized upskilling and readiness workshops for customers and partners, covering almost every industry. Through collaborations with NGOs and the creation of free for all Digital Skills education programs, we focus on students, the unemployed, underserved communities, but also startuppers or young professionals. It is our deep belief that no one should be left behind as technology is progressing.
The combination of tech skills and a culture of learning is key to ensuring prolonged, sustainable growth.
At Microsoft, we are committed to a world, where technology meets people’s needs while at the same time people trust technology as a powerful tool in creating a prosperous future for all. We are here to ensure that Greece will be part of this future and this much anticipated brave new world.
Walking the Talk on Trustworthy AI: A Turning Point for the Country
By Spyros Poulidas, CEO, IBM Greece & Cyprus
The last decade has been quite a ride for the Greek economy and people. The country went through a severe multilevel crisis, but it seems like the road toward normality and sustainable growth is close enough. This is a turning point, and now is the chance to turn the odds in the country’s favor.
Technologies such as cloud, big data, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, internet of things (IoT), and quantum computing can provide a competitive advantage to the country. IBM, a leading company in the field of cloud and cognitive solutions, is present in Greece for more than 81 years and can contribute toward this direction with these technologies and its expertise. The company is currently helping Greek organizations and enterprises move into the next chapter of digital reinvention, taking advantage of their data—the most powerful source of competitive advantage—by leveraging AI and cloud.
As AI ethics tools evolve and governments get on board to help businesses, embedding AI ethics will become less daunting
With the significant benefits that AI offers businesses and customers, now is the time for business to take action and build trust. But we first must identify what that entails and where the starting point is. A recent study by IBM’s Institute of Business Value found that 82% of enterprises are now at least considering AI adoption, but 55% have security and privacy concerns about use of data. In some cases, this lack of trust decreases engagement with AI systems.
As a basis, companies developing or using AI should have clear principles around the development, deployment and governance of AI. Good AI governance is essential. This means thinking carefully about the different stages involved in creating AI solutions and monitoring each stage carefully to ensure that principles are being followed. Fortunately, companies do not need to create these processes from scratch as there are several promising frameworks already in development.
The European Commission, in April 2019, published its Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI, designed to set a global standard in advancing AI ethically and responsibly. IBM had a part in creating the Guidelines, including identifying seven fundamental requirements of trustworthy AI. These include human agency and oversight; technical robustness and safety; privacy and data governance; transparency; diversity, non-discrimination and fairness; societal and environmental wellbeing; and accountability.
Helpfully, the Guidelines also contain an assessment list that can be used as a roadmap for companies to operationalize trustworthy AI. In addition, in June, the independent EU High Level Expert Group on AI (HLEG) issued policy and investment recommendations for trustworthy AI.
As with the AI Ethics Guidelines, these recommendations are the result of thorough discussions within the HLEG and provide a comprehensive blueprint for developing a thriving AI ecosystem in Europe that can have a positive impact across the world.
AI is quickly and fundamentally transforming every facet of business. And as AI ethics tools evolve and governments get on board to help businesses, embedding AI ethics will become less daunting. The era for responsible and ethical AI is here, and it’s up to all and the state to lead the way toward a prosperous, sustainable and digitalized future.
A Healthier Population Through Digitization
By Agata Jakoncic, Managing Director, MSD Greece, Cyprus and Malta
The Greek economy shows promising signs of growth with prospects of further economic recovery. At MSD we believe that economic growth can be promoted if we invest more in health and innovation. Healthier populations live longer, more productive lives, leading to greater economic prosperity, and recharging national growth. In today’s world of big data, data analytics and digitization of care, we need to see how healthcare systems can be positively affected for their sustainability and for the benefit of patients.
Pharma companies that choose to embrace the digitization of healthcare could contribute to a healthier population at large
Τhe value of real world evidence (RWE), big data in the area of healthcare has been strengthened in the last few years and their use is growing. Healthcare systems can be more efficient when real world data (RWD) and big data are appropriately collected, analyzed and used in decisionmaking. From a clinical point of view, collection and analysis of RWD contributes to public health improvement, better clinical practice, and better understanding of healthcare system needs. In parallel, RWE can contribute to the fiscal sustainability of healthcare systems through better control of expenditures, improvement of chronic disease management, etc. They can act as economic growth drivers as they attract R&D investments, creating alternative resources of income and new high-skill, well-paying job positions and public-private partnerships.
When RWE is applied together with the electronic health record (EHR)* and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems in hospitals, they constitute the foundations for the creation of a unified platform for real world data collection within the framework of our electronic prescription system.
RWE and the ongoing digitization of healthcare will enable health systems to:
- Monitor population health and create a health map to define healthcare goals
- Monitor human, health and financial resources within the health system and optimize resource utilization
- Assess international and national clinical guidelines and public health policies with the ultimate goal of improving day-to-day clinical practice, managing chronic diseases, and increasing population health
- Develop patient registries enriched with clinical results and financial data
- Rationally plan and budget health services through an online health needs assessment system
- Improve clinical practice by integrating and monitoring the implementation of therapeutic protocols and guidelines that will lead to a reduction of wrong prescriptions
- Design targeted actions/adjustments to the provision of health services to improve clinical outcomes
- Determine high-risk groups for disease outbreaks, worsening disease burden, high consumption of health resources and the planning of health improvement and cost reduction interventions
Pharma companies that choose to embrace the digitization of healthcare could contribute to a healthier population at large. Greece can become a center of excellence in RWE, and MSD is contributing to this national strategy.