A DYNAMIC INDUSTRY

The Investor Greece 2022  I  Telecoms & IT  I  Analysis

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“THE GOVERNMENT’S DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION BIBLE PROJECT IS A ROADMAP CONSISTING OF SOME 450 PROJECTS BACKED BY €6.4 BILLION OF EU RECOVERY FUND MONEY, TO SPEED UP THE DIGITIZATION OF THE PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SECTORS AND BOOST GREECE’S DIGITAL READINESS.”

OVERVIEW

 

The coronavirus crisis has accelerated the digital transformation of Europe’s economy. According to the European Investment Bank (EIB), close to half of firms in the European Union report investing in digitalisation as a response to COVID-19 — for example, by providing services online. Until recently, the implementation of digital technologies was considered important for market success and was usually associated with the most innovative and modern companies. However, the pandemic has made the digital transformation an integral part of society — and integral to firms’ survival. Digital firms were better able to cope with the disruption unleashed by the pandemic. They were less likely than non-digital firms to experience a strong decrease in sales from the beginning of 2020. In addition, while policy support for the private sector was widespread and did not target digital firms in particular, digital firms report more often than other firms that they used the crisis as an opportunity to accelerate digitalisation. This suggests that the crisis forced them to find more efficient ways of working with digital technologies. Overall, digital firms tend to perform better than non-digital firms. They are more productive, export more, invest more, are more innovative, grow faster and pay higher wages on average.

 

The pandemic led to wider recognition of the importance of the digital transformation. Until recently, the implementation of digital technologies was considered important for market success and was usually associated with the most innovative and modern companies. Now, however, the pandemic has made the digital transformation integral to firms’ survival. Many of the changes associated with digitalisation — services provided remotely, teleworking and online meetings — are likely to stay. Investment in digitalisation is vital to preventing business disruption, organising work remotely, improving communication with customers, suppliers and employees and selling products and services online.

 

As a response to the COVID-19 crisis, many firms invested in digitalisation. In the European Union, 46% of firms report that they took action to become more digital — for example, by providing services online — according to the results of the EIB Investment Survey (EIBIS). However, significant differences exist across firm size classes, sectors and countries. Comparing the different EU regions, 48% of firms in Western and Northern Europe reported taking steps or investing to become more digital, compared with 43% in Southern Europe and 37% in Central and Eastern Europe.

 

THE DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

 

To face the challenge of the necessary rapid digital transformation, an important organisational reform came with the establishment of the new Ministry of Digital Governance. For the first time, a large part of the critical IT and telecommunications structures, related to the provision of digital services to the citizens and the wider digital transformation of the country, are concentrated under one controlling, coordinating and supervising authority. Furthermore, Law 4727/2020 came to regulate and codify digital governance issues in the public sector, summarising and updating more than 120 provisions of scattered legislation of at least 15 years, while setting the regulatory framework upon which the digital State will be structured in the next decade. The Law also transposes Directive (EU) 2018/1972, establishing the European Electronic Communications Code, as well as Directive (ΕU) 2019/1024 on open data and the re-use of public sector information. Moreover, it contains provisions for the digital state, the electronic communication, interactions and transactions with the state through information technology, digital governance, electronic documents and digital public services, open data and includes a chapter on the development of a digital 5G ecosystem deployment in Greece.

 

The Digital Transformation Bible (2020 - 2025) adopts and implements the key guidelines and commitments contained in Law 4727/2020. It is the main strategic document, which sets priorities and outlines the guiding principles, strategic axes, and interventions on a horizontal and vertical level that aim to enhance and support the digital transformation of the Greek society and economy. The strategy underlines seven primary objectives as well as supporting activities across specific areas and describes the objectives and the implementation measures. Within this direction, the Digital Transformation Bible concerns the implementation of more than 400 projects. The formulation of the Action Plan of the strategy is an open and dynamic process, as new actions are added when needed.

 

Moreover, the Programme “Antonis Tritsis” has been established with the main purpose of implementing an integrated and strategic planning through local governments. The main emphasis has been given to smart and sustainable infrastructure by funding relevant cities’ initiatives. The programme will be implemented by the end of 2023, while its resources amount up to EUR 2.5 billion. In case high absorption is achieved, there is a possibility of additional funding.

 

Aiming at fostering the deployment of digital advanced technologies across all economic sectors, the Greek authorities launched the project of Digital Transformation of Greek Industry, regarding the implementation of the national strategy for the promotion of the 4th industrial revolution - Industry 4.0 for the years (2021 - 2027)The Greek authorities intend to increase public and private investment in research and development (R&D), strengthen the links between science and business, and develop a pioneering R&D infrastructure. This will be achieved through a series of projects, as well as through reforms aimed at encouraging innovative companies to invest in R&D.

 

Thessaloniki is leading the way toward Greece’s future as the digital hub of southeastern Europe. Major U.S. companies like Cisco, Deloitte, and Pfizer have made “the strategic decision to grow their footprint in Thessaloniki so they can tap into the city’s highly educated young workforce and the Balkan market of 30 million people. Greece has demonstrated for the first time a major improvement in digital skills, with over 50 per cent of Greek citizens claiming to have at least the basic digital skills. On Connectivity, the country has seen the progress of over 15 per cent compared to 2019. The signs of digitization are there for Greece, however the country needs to accelerate its digital growth, as it falls way behind the EU average.