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At Capital Link Forum: The Digital Transformation of the Greek State

December 22, 2020

NEW YORK – Greek Minister of Digital Governance Kyriakos Pierrakakis introduced the Investing in Technology section of Capital Link’s 22nd Invest in Greece Forum with his keynote speech entitled, The Digital Transformation of the Greek State: Benefits for the State, Citizens and Businesses.

Minister Pierrakakis said, “For us, it is a historical day because we completed our 5G auction process today.” He then proceeded to explain the various digital initiatives of the government, giving special emphasis on the gov.gr, which is the new official portal of the State.

According to Pierrakakis, the portal was offering around 500 digital services in March. Now it has reached 740 services and it keeps adding new services every single day. “Our goal is to use this portal as the single point where the citizens can interact with the state and interact easily and in a manner that further enhances the trust and further enables citizens to do what they want. We believe that gov.gr is the new face of the Greek state. It is now in Greek only, but it will be also offered in English soon. What we will be doing through next week is that we will be offering the service also in an application form for mobile phones,” Pierrakakis said.

In addition, the Minister presented the “Digital Transformation bible” that was published recently. This document contains the digital strategy of the Greek government. More specifically, the “Digital Transformation bible” defines more than 400 projects that are going to be financed and implemented in Greece through many mechanisms.

Also, the minister addressed the second immediate digital priority, the vaccination process for COVID. As he explained, many digital systems need to be designed (logistics, IT, appointment systems), in order to further help citizens receive their vaccination.

The Minister’s keynote speech was followed by the panel entitled, Investing in the Information & Communications Technology (ICT) Sector – Turning Greece into the Silicon Valley of Southeastern Europe, and moderated by Evangelos Lakatzis, Partner – Saplegal – A.S. Papadimitriou & Partners Law Firm

Antonis Tsiboukis, General Manager – Cisco Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Portugal, said, “I think it has become clear by now that digital transformation is the only way to go forward and achieve economic growth.”

He continued, “We have been discussing about digital transformation over the last six years, and fortunately, due to the challenges of COVID, we saw rapid advancements and acceleration on the investments of the digital transformation. At the same time, we realize that as people get more acquainted with the technology, the more they use it. So, there is a lack of awareness. So, from our side, in order to tackle this, we created a digital skills center in Thessaloniki. That was created with the support of the U.S. Embassy and Ambassador Pyatt, Mr. Pierrakakis from the ministry of digital governance, Mr. Georgiades from the Ministry of Development, the office of the prime minister Maria Antoniou and also the mayor of Thessaloniki, Mr. Zervas.”

He proceeded to explain, that the center tries to showcase live what this new technology looks like and what it can do for benefiting the life and work of the people, who take advantage of it. 

Google General Manager for Southeast Europe Peggy Antonakou said, “Obviously, there has been a huge acceleration of digital transformation and the need for digital skills in the past few months. I think one thing that we now see more clearly than ever is that there is a drive not only for transformation, but also for economic growth. One thing that I would like to highlight is that we keep talking about the pandemic and all the changes that it has made in the way that we do business and the way that we live. I want to say that also looking at the hard data, it is completely confirmed that we are completely shifting in the way that we act as consumers. We completely change the way that we expect businesses and also the government to serve us. So digital services, online services, online shopping, online education, online working; all of this has become the new norm.”

Theodosis Michalopoulos, CEO – Microsoft Greece, Cyprus & Malta, said, “Following a long economic crisis, Greece is on its way towards recovery, with digital technologies being an important enabler towards growth. We strongly believe that technology is here to support Greek businesses, Public Sector, and its citizens reimagine and redesign the future. Looking ahead, Greece has a tremendous potential in a variety of sectors, among others tourism, energy, agriculture, education, industry, shipping, health care, cultural heritage. Our role is to provide the necessary technological solutions and education that would allow individuals, small and middle-size businesses and large companies to build up on that potential. Becoming ‘the Silicon Valley of Southeastern Europe’ might not necessarily be the way forward, but for sure, we will need to ensure an environment that fosters innovation, encourages brains and talent to stay and work in the country and empower the Greek workforce with skills that will allow them to stay relevant with the technological advancements.”

“With our plans for Microsoft’s first datacenter region in the country and the holistic ‘GR for Growth’ plan, we are building on this work, levelling up our contribution to the country’s economy. Our commitment is to be a technology ally in driving growth, now and for the generations to come,” Michalopoulos said.

Michael Tsamaz, Chairman & CEO – OTE Group said, “You can’t have ICT if you don’t have state-of-the-art infrastructure and broadband connectivity. Luckily for Greece, we do,” adding that “Greece can and should unleash its huge potential,” and proposing EU funds to support the ICT ecosystem, state incentives to support ICT investments by large enterprises and SMEs, and the cultivation of a digital culture.

Nico Gariboldi, Site Lead Pfizer Global Digital & Technology Center of Thessaloniki – Pfizer Hellas, said, “COVID-19 changes the way that we live; the way that we shop; the way that we communicate and the way that we travel. So, really everything has changed and it has changed dramatically. This change has been enabled clearly by digital. Also, if we consider all the companies that were in some way ahead in the digital transformation, it is no coincidence that at the end of this story these companies are the ones who will manage this change. So, this is true for the companies, but it is also for the countries. For example, in Pfizer, thanks to the very good digital organization that we have, we were able to work, connect, and collaborate remotely.”

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