Reshaping the Economy

NOV-DEC 2017|BY ALEXANDRA LOLI

Years of economic downturn in Greece have made clearer than ever the need to diagnose and remedy chronic deficiencies that are impeding meaningful change in the country and to move forward to stable, sustainable growth with a focus on extroversion, innovation, technology, and business ethics. Business Partners’ Thought Leaders in Economy discuss key factors and actions for reshaping the Greek economy and reviving entrepreneurial and business dynamics.

At the Forefront of Digital Transformation

ANTONIS TSIBOUKIS, GENERAL MANAGER GREECE, CYPRUS AND MALTA, CISCO

Today, unprecedented technological change and rapid digital adoption is impacting society, changing the way we live, work, play, and learn. Technology now connects everything from people, processes and data to things, and new devices are connecting every hour. By 2030, over 500 billion devices and objects will be connected.

It is interesting to note that this phase of digital transformation is so much more powerful and challenging than previous transformational phases (for example, from mainframe to PC or from the informational web to e-commence internet). Digital disruption is radically changing economies, cities, and communities as well as the landscape of business.

Digital transformation is fuelled by multiple technology trends—such as mobility, IoT, analytics, and cloud—all of which are driving companies to become digital businesses. No company, regardless of industry, size or location, is immune to the pressure of these rapid changes. According to IDC, by 2018, one third of current industry-leading companies will be disrupted by competitors.

Key to flourishing in today’s digital world, the network is the foundation of digital business and critical to business success. Digital disruption is forcing businesses to re-think their business models as the pace of business has accelerated exponentially with mobile device proliferation, app migration to the cloud, and the need to scale to IoT. These trends are putting enormous pressure on the network and the teams that support them. IT teams are being asked to scale from managing hundreds of devices to managing one million by 2020. The traditional networking model simply doesn’t scale for the digital era.

In addition, as data becomes the most strategic asset of any company or country, the ability to secure data, act upon it, and deliver services based upon it will be vital for companies going forward. Because of these challenges, businesses need a new network that is dramatically simplified and markedly safer.

Today, Cisco is reinventing the network to address this by creating an intuitive network—a secure and intelligent platform for digital business—that can learn, adapt, and evolve. Powered by intent and informed by context, this network gets more intuitive the more it is applied. And we are bringing the intuitive network to life through Cisco’s DNA technologies and services—a single system that propels businesses forward and creates new opportunities for people everywhere.

At Cisco, we believe that those businesses that adopt digital technologies and have a modern network underpinning their transformation will become more competitive, reduce the cost and the complexity of their operations, and have better security. Companies that have invested in modern networks have two to three times the rate of growth in revenue, customer retention, and profit (IDC). Just as importantly, digital technologies will positively impact their brand, their growth, and their ability to innovate.

The next ten years will bring the greatest technology expansion and most powerful digital disruption we’ve seen, and we are more than ever committed to playing a role in today’s digital market transition, by innovating and partnering so we can harness the astonishing value creation opportunities digital adoption presents for government, business, and local communities.

Greek Entrepreneurship and the Power of Creative Transformation

PANOS PAPAZOGLOU, COUNTRY MANAGING PARTNER, EY GREECE

For many years, Greece has been a protected economy. The state has protected established interests from new entrants, local producers from imports, closed professions from competition. In a similar way, one could argue that those with secure jobs, especially in the public sector, have been protected at the expense of the unemployed.

This environment stifled innovation and prevented productivity growth. Companies cannot thrive when they do not challenge established practices and rethink things they believe they already know. Fierce competition and business-critical challenges of all kinds can be an opportunity to rethink, reassess, refine, and review. Threats to business, in short, can present a valuable new perspective. In many ways, the financial crisis that erupted in Greece in 2009 was a direct consequence of companies growing complacent and failing to constantly reinvent themselves.

Over this same period, globalization and the emergence of new technologies have drastically changed the world economy. Nowadays, many people refer to this as “disruption.” Personally, I prefer the term “creative transformation.” Navigating this transformative age requires of us all to ask better questions, questions that will ultimately help us understand our clients and their needs, preferences, and aspirations.

If we adapt ourselves and leverage these transformative forces, we can regain our competitiveness. If not, not only companies, but whole sectors of the Greek economy will soon become irrelevant.

The recent emblematic case of a Greek technology company that drastically transformed the private transportation sector is a striking example of this form of creative transformation. An outsider, using smart technology, widened the market, drastically improved its efficiency and customer satisfaction, and brought tangible benefits to both consumers and service providers. The people behind this transformation anticipated a trend, spotted an opportunity, and came up with an innovative concept.

This example demonstrates the role of technology in this revolution, but it also highlights the fact that the key to success is keeping the human element at the core of any business or digital transformation. Transformation is meaningful and will succeed if it addresses the wants and needs of people—if it helps society keep pace with change.

None of this would have been possible in Greece a few years earlier: Not only did such technology not exist, but, more importantly, the legal and regulatory framework was prohibitive, and no one had real incentive to look at things from an entirely new perspective.

There are many companies like this in Greece today, some perhaps less well known, but equally promising. In an adverse environment, they are working hard to reinvent themselves, explore new business models, open new markets and reshape the sectors in which they operate. Their leaders are true game changers, entrepreneurs who ask the right questions, look to the future without fear, spot opportunities and turn them into actionable aides. These are the people who will bring about the recovery of our economy, create wealth and job opportunities, and modernize our country. These are the people that we, at EY, reward and promote for their contribution to the Greek economy, through the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ program.

Investment Incentives and Strategies to Stimulate the Revival of Greek Business

ANTONIOS KERASTARIS, GROUP CEO, INTRALOT

Technology is shaping business developments around the world. Greece can take advantage of this trend to revive its business dynamism and boost export-oriented sectors, but this would require significant gains in international competitiveness. Larger companies that have invested in reaching out to international markets with a robust new products and services portfolio can benefit from the integration of new technologies and trends, such as big data analytics, to drive customer engagement and to develop products that meet the ever-increasing demands of today’s consumer.

An emphasis on cash-flow generation is also important during periods of great challenges in the domestic credit markets. The high cost of money has been the main cause of the erosion of competitiveness gains achieved by lower labor costs in Greece in the past five years. This observation demonstrates the need to carefully calculate the side effects of restrictive, fiscal discipline related reforms and the necessity to cast reforms within a broader picture.

For all its troubles, the Greek economy has remained connected to the outside world and has managed to preserve and increase its international client base and exports in volume. But dramatic improvements in the banking and taxation environment are prerequisites for any serious discussion regarding a total overhaul of business dynamics and the beginning of a new era for the greater part of the economy.

After so many years of stagnation, Greek businesses need significant space to breathe. This can be achieved by simplifying regulations and bureaucratic procedures and offering incentives for investment in Greek businesses. In Italy, for example, significant tax breaks are offered for money invested in domestic businesses in the stock exchange. This could apply to various forms of investments with domestic or international capital.

Our company, Intralot, is a good example of the advantages of technology-focused companies: We have a global market to address, the flexibility to adjust the product according to market demands, and the ability to run an adaptable business that can respond quickly to changing consumer needs and trends. On top of that, having created an internationally competitive products and services portfolio, we turned our focus to long-term contracts that allow for revenue predictability. This in turn gave us the ability to address international capital markets at a time of quantitative easing, when large amounts of money have been made available for long-term returns.

Big, long-term projects are what the country needs. Speculative hot money that moves in and out cannot revive an economy. This has been a problem in the past for our country and for other countries without a long-term strategy nor a deep domestic capital market. Long-term returns associated with international revenue streams will create a core sentiment of stability that will allow more investments, create jobs, and bring back consumer confidence. It is a process that will take time, but it can be a winning strategy. We need to be patient and to work consistently, with as little bureaucratic interference as possible.

HEDNO’s Key Role in the Transition of the Greek Energy Market

NIKOS CHATZIARGYRIOU, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, HELLENIC ELECTRICITY DISTRIBUTION NETWORK OPERATOR AND PROFESSOR AT THE SCHOOL OF ELECTRICAL AND COMPUTER ENGINEERING, NATIONAL TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY OF ATHENS

The electricity sector in Greece is going through major changes and through a revolutionary phase. Following the European energy market’s transition towards clean energy, the Greek power sector is reforming, as the country moves to decarbonize its coal-dominated power sector.

The law 4001 adopted in 2011, opened the way for these reforms and for the transposition of relevant EU electricity sector legislation into national legislation. Under the Law 4001, HEDNO, the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator, was established in May 2012, after the spin-off of the distribution department of PPC S.A.

The company is operationally and functionally fully independent, a 100% subsidiary of PPC S.A., and is responsible for planning and operating the Electricity Distribution Network in Greece with total network length of 237,357 km, 7,000 employees and 7.47 million customers. Main services include network development, consumption metering, network maintenance, fault restoration, connection of consumers and renewable energy sources and retail market facilitation. Furthermore, HEDNO is responsible for the efficient and secure operation and management of the non-interconnected islands’ electrical systems.

HEDNO, like all the other distribution system operators (DSOs) in the electricity sector across Europe, has a leading role in the energy transition in order to achieve the EU climate goals set by the winter package for energy efficiency and higher renewable penetration. Therefore, HEDNO is facing multiple new challenges besides its traditional mission to operate, maintain and develop an efficient electricity distribution system.

The company has a key role in enabling a competitive retail market, by facilitating transparent and non-discriminatory access to its network, while at the same time, new tasks and responsibilities are constantly challenging its operation, like high penetration of distributed generation, appearance of energy communities, smart islands, electromobility, etc.

HEDNO is dedicated in to achieving a successful transition of the Greek energy market and at the same time in to providing a significant contribution to the country΄s economic recovery.

To achieve these goals, HEDNO’s vision is to become one of the top ten DSOs in Europe, achieving the optimal combination of quality and low-cost services, respecting environmental protection.

The company’s strategy aims to the integration of modern technologies, like smart grids, remote services, automation etc. Its investment plan of more than 250 million euros annually, is based on 12 strategic projects (smart meters, distribution control centers, new IT systems for customer service, network remote control systems, etc.), that will reinforce and modernize the Hellenic Distribution Network.

The company΄s key strategic projects, pave the way towards the smart grids era in Greece, thus enabling the development of new market services and achieving optimal combination of quality and low cost.

HEDNO’s goal to modernize the electricity network and transform it in to a “Smart System”, aims to continuously optimize the service quality to the connected consumers and producers, covering their emerging needs by an optimal techno-economical way.

While the electricity sector worldwide undergoes radical transformation, both technological and organizational, HEDNO advances towards the development of the necessary infrastructure for maximizing the benefits for the economy, the society and the environment.

Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Economic Growth

PEGGY ANTONAKOU, CEO MICROSOFT GREECE, CYPRUS & MALTA

Since before the inception of the steam engine in the industrial revolution, innovation has constituted the main ingredient of economic growth. As Greece searches for a viable economic model different to the one that collapsed in 2010, innovation could prove to be the key element for paving the way to sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

How? Greece needs to focus more on how to innovate its capabilities and become more competitive in sectors that are already considered competitive. Technological solutions based on cloud computing can act as enablers, generating growth for companies both with a local and international presence. Initiatives aiming to reduce the significant digital skill gap of the Greek economy are also essential on this path. Finally, a key point in this endeavor is the implementation of structural reforms such as public sector modernization.

A recent Microsoft study of Greek SMEs shows that two out of three respondents believe that cloud is an important success factor for a business, while more than half consider cloud solutions to be instrumental in the development of the business. Companies that invest in cloud services become more flexible, change faster, and achieve decreased costs while maintaining a high level of security. In addition, they manage to serve their customers in the most efficient and productive ways, best utilizing the new trends of mobility and big data.

As the European Commission estimates that by 2020 as much as 90% of jobs in the EU will require digital skills, education and supporting students in improving their digital and entrepreneurial skills should be a main priority. We acknowledge our role and our responsibility to lead the way in this pursuit. Over the past few years of the crisis, we have witnessed an increasing number of young Greeks working to improve their digital skills through several free coding course initiatives that we run locally. Others are leveraging technology tools to create their own businesses. In 2017, the Microsoft YouthSpark initiative officially supported the Tech Talent School program, which aims to develop digital skills within the Greek labor market and to provide networking opportunities between professionals and the private sector. Providing free ICT training, it focuses on young people aged 15-25, high school and university students, recent graduates, unemployed young people, members of underserved communities, immigrants, and refugees.

It is crucial that we proceed with the implementation of disruptive structural reforms and public-sector modernization. New tools that will increase the productivity of the public sector and reduce administrative burdens are essential to cutting red tape and unleashing the creative and entrepreneurial potential of Greeks. For example, the Foundation for Economic & Industrial Research (IOBE)1 predicts that the adoption of digital signature solutions in Greek public administration is expected to save about €380 million within the first year of its implementation.

At Microsoft Hellas, we believe that, in this great effort to restore growth and create a new economic model for Greece, it is essential to embrace technological changes. It is in this grand challenge of national proportions that we locate our own share of responsibility for the future of this country, in order to help its citizens reestablish prosperity on more solid grounds.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship—The Solution to the Enigma of Growth Is Ideas

IAKOVOS KARGAROTOS, VICE PRESIDENT, PAPASTRATOS

The international environment is currently in a state of flux and uncertainty. The world around us is changing so fast that sometimes just keeping up with events can be a formidable task. Opinions on the progress of the global economy differ. However, there is one common conclusion: We are at the dawn of a new era, in which fear of the unknown exists alongside hope and anticipation of the new.

In the face of this great challenge, there are two routes we can take. The first makes you an “observer,” choosing to remain in “safe mode” and do nothing until things begin to clear. The second sees you become a part of developments yourself, shaping the future rather than reluctantly accepting it and having to play catch-up.

Papastratos chooses the route of active participation, acting on its commitment to “leave a piece of future behind.” What has kept us at the top for the past 86 years is our constant effort to create the conditions that allow every day to be better than the one before it, both for us and for the country.

Bold entrepreneurship, though a vital component of success, is not enough by itself. There must be a plan, a strategy, and, naturally, a purpose. For many, this purpose is found in figures, data, and graphs. For us, it is more than that. We understand our functional purpose in a way that is inclusive, because we know that our role and responsibility go beyond the bounds of our business activities.

Today, at a time when the economy is experiencing great difficulty, we are making an investment of 300 million euro. An investment which—besides creating 400 new jobs, supporting Greek tobacco producers, and strengthening exports and the supply chain—brings with it something greater: A smoke-free future, based on the innovation of a new generation of potentially reduced-risk tobacco products.

When word got out that we had decided that Greece would become the third production center in the world for the new generation of tobacco products, there were more than a few who wondered “Why now?” and, more importantly, “Why here?”

The answer is simple. Because now is the moment to release the potential of this country. Because we are convinced that the only way forward is one which entrepreneurship itself will open.

At the heart of this investment is innovation, because we believe that this is precisely where the future of entrepreneurship is to be found. It is innovation that will set us apart in the international market, and innovation that will allow us to complete our fundamental and substantive restructuring, so that our influence on the economy and society will be bigger and more positive.

Superb human resources, boundless prospects for primary production, and Greece’s strategic geographic position give the country a competitive edge, which, when combined with innovative ideas and an outward-looking approach, can bring about real change. What remains is for us—for businesses—to take a giant step. To dare. To invest in Greece and its future.

Enhancing Fighter Aircraft Operational Capability While Helping Greek Defense Industry Competitiveness

DENNYS PLESSAS, VICE PRESIDENT BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVES, LOCKHEED MARTIN AERONAUTICS INTERNATIONAL

Economic growth and prosperity can only be achieved when a nation enjoys security and stability. While ensuring security and stability has economic costs, investing in national defense also benefits economic growth and prosperity. Such is the case for Greece.

Greece is a peace-loving nation, but it has always maintained strong and efficient armed forces to safeguard its sovereignty and its citizens. This was the case throughout the Persian wars, the Byzantine era, the Balkan wars, and the two world wars. The “guns or butter” dilemma has always been met with decisive action towards freedom.

For more than 70 years, Lockheed Martin has had the privilege of supporting Greece’s defense and security requirements. We are particularly proud of our longstanding partnership with the Hellenic Air Force (HAF), which continues the tradition of Daedalus and Icarus protecting Greece’s skies.

Maintaining Greece’s defense and security is a dynamic process that requires continuous monitoring of threats and investment in new technology and capabilities. Such investment involves economic trade-offs, of course, but investing in Greek security also benefits Greece’s economy. Ensuring that aircraft, ships, tanks, and other military equipment remain effective and relevant requires a modern and capable Greek defense industry.

In the 1970s, Greece’s defense planners began building the foundation of the country’s defense industry with state-of-the-art organizations, including the Hellenic Aerospace Industry (HAI), Hellenic Shipyards, and Hellenic Defense Systems (EAS). In addition to these state-owned industries, Greece’s private sector also began investing resources to develop defense capabilities in the fields of electronics and software development and in maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO).

The prerequisites for a national defense industry to survive and grow are:

(i) Existence of national defense programs

(ii) Strategic international relationships

(iii) Access to affordable funding liquidity

(iv) Access to research and development (R&D)

(v) Competitiveness

(vi) Exports

Lockheed Martin has partnered with HAI since the latter was founded in 1975. HAI has since been the main recipient of technology and workload, either as a result of offset benefits or through standalone agreements. HAI has been the single-source supplier of major aerostructure components for legendary fighter and transport aircraft, including the F-16 and C-130J.

HAI successfully performed upgrades on more than 90 U.S. Air Force F-16s and is expected to support the HAF’s own F-16 upgrade program. HAF F-16 upgrades will provide jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to HAI and other Greek defense companies. HAF F-16 upgrades will also further enhance the Greek defense industry’s technical expertise and indigenous capabilities.

HAI also recently received a subcontract from Lockheed Martin for the modernization and re-manufacturing of the P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft.

Programs like this also enable the Greek defense industry to pursue international opportunities. In order for this to happen, however, a more robust innovation and growth strategy is essential. More strategic public-private partnerships will propel Greek industry toward a more competitive and prosperous future. Greek defense planners must develop and introduce a new vision based on ethos for a drive towards success and growth through partnerships.

Lockheed Martin stands ready to further strengthen its longstanding partnerships in Greece to promote security, stability, economic growth, and prosperity all around.

Institutional Capital to Help Revive the Economy

GEORGE LINATSAS, GROUP MANAGING DIRECTOR, AXIA VENTURES GROUP

Greece’s deep recession is forcing the country to implement long-overdue reforms aiming to put the economy on a sustainable growth path. Setting the policies straight is essential, but eventually, it will be up to local entrepreneurs and businesses to take the necessary steps to unlock the full potential of the economy.

Even in the early years of the economic crisis, institutional capital recognized the prospects as well as the opportunities presented for well-placed local companies. In many instances, especially early on, Greek businesses were resistant to such proposals, either because they were hoping for conditions to quickly normalize or because they were reluctant to proceed with the terms attached to these offers.

Eventually, it became evident that things would not revert to the old ways while credit supply remains seriously constrained. At the same time, growth opportunities do exist, and competition is increasing.

Regarding competition, we note that the bulk of Greek businesses cater to the protected domestic market, and thus their structure and management style have developed to deal with its particular challenges. The sweeping structural reforms being implemented aim to open the Greek economy to global competition—and most businesses are ill-prepared.

Institutional capital presents Greek companies with a reliable financing solution, but it could also become the catalyst to update and evolve their structures to meet challenges, compete, and grow.

Once on board, institutional investors help establish a professional structure with skilled executives in order to optimize shareholder value, often with support from consultants and industry experts. As the majority of Greek companies are controlled by families, the concept of corporate governance has not been developed, and this curbs the ability of these companies to meet their full potential.

The overhaul and refocus of operations coupled with financing/new capital should allow businesses to become competitive both on a national and international level. The next step is investing for growth.

The Greek hospitality industry is an example of how institutional money could reshape a sector and ultimately benefit the economy. This is a highly fragmented sector with few sizable companies run by founding families. The sector has significant debt levels, and there is need for investments to refurbish assets and expand operations. Institutional capital is transforming the hospitality sector, first by revamping operations with a focus on profitability and optimizing cash flows, and then through efforts to grow through acquisitions or green field projects. These investments lead to the creation of better-sized operations that offer improved services to tourists. Offering a more upscale product allows for improved pricing and places businesses on more competitive footing on a global scale, which in turn boosts demand and employment in the hospitality sector and in sectors that cater to the tourism industry. The economy is already reaping the benefits of this effort.

In order to survive, businesses need to adapt. In order to grow, they need to lead. The prolonged crisis should be seen as an opportunity to revive the country’s entrepreneurial dynamism, and thus business leaders must approach it with an open mind and with determination to do things more efficiently than before.

Serving the Consumer & Thriving in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

DESPINA PASSARIS, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS CENTRAL & SOUTH EAST EUROPE, PROCTER & GAMBLE

We are currently experiencing one of the most profound periods of disruption in the history of business. Change isn’t new, but the speed of change is now greater than ever.

Geopolitical, social, and financial volatility have raised the stakes for a growing global economy. Technology is revolutionizing everything. We are in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. More people in the world today own a smartphone than a toothbrush. The way people interact with our products and their expectations from a shopping experience are changing daily. Currently, 64% of sales in Europe are influenced by digital, and 75% of consumers use their phones to research a product before buying it. Half of them want to make a purchase within one hour of doing so. People are constantly connected and engaged. This is the age of consumers who—empowered by technology, transparency, and choice—are more demanding and value-conscious than ever before.

For a company like P&G, which touches five billion consumers every day with brands like Ariel, Pampers, Oral B or Always, when consumers change their habits there is no other recourse but to change as well. Our consumers expect a lot from our brands: They expect brands to engage with them on in their own terms, offering personalized solutions and simple, integrated services. People also want to know more about the brands and the companies behind them. They want to know a brand’s track record on environmental sustainability, social responsibility, diversity, inclusion, and ethics. It’s no longer just about changing a nappy or doing the laundry. Global leading brands must be a force for good and a force for growth. Take P&G for example: We are among the largest advertisers in the world. As such, we use our voice to step up on important matters such as gender bias, to promote positive conversations, to influence attitudes, and to change behaviors in an effort to help make our world a better place—and by doing so, we are growing the business as well.

The disruptive forces of today are creating seismic shifts in how we do business. Let me share three interventions that we at P&G focus on to achieve sustainable growth:

Putting the consumer at the heart of everything we do. History shows that when we put the consumer at the core, things tend to work out. Especially in this world of empowered consumers, it is even more imperative to design for them.

Bringing real innovation and evolving the way we connect with people. Innovation has always been the cornerstone of business success, and today it is even more central to how we shape our future. Consumers are receptive to innovation even in the darkest of economic times—and digital has opened up new opportunities to communicate this innovation to them.

A rapidly changing world demands a new standard of leadership at all levels. Preserving the status quo is no longer sufficient. Successful leaders must be willing to transform and reinvent themselves and their businesses. They must also overinvest in talent and in the future leaders of their businesses. The best and brightest talent need to prepare themselves for greater responsibility and leadership in this dynamic world.

How to Infuse Innovation into Organizations

SPYROS POULIDAS, CHAIRMAN & MANAGING DIRECTOR, IBM GREECE & CYPRUS

Organizations around the world are embracing the concepts of artificial intelligence (AI) and cognitive computing to improve their business operations and redefine the way they engage with customers, partners, and ecosystems.

While traditional analytics can provide data-based insights, cognitive computing can turn insights into recommendations. Cognitive systems can understand unstructured information, such as imagery, natural language, and sounds found, for example, in audio and video files. Cognitive systems can also reason through massive company data to unlock meaning and can learn so as to provide more informed actions and insights.

Data is the new natural resource, and how it is used can provide organizations with a competitive advantage in the market in which they operate. Corporate leaders today are called to confront their companies’ ever-growing data workloads and find ways to securely store, analyze, and extract value from data.

For most organizations, cloud is the answer in order to put their data to work so as to foster innovation. Cloud adoption is rapidly growing with an aim to not only streamline IT infrastructure and reduce costs but also to help organizations move into new industries, transform customer experiences, develop new revenue sources, and invent new business models.

Taking into consideration that companies are now looking into new, emerging forms of cloud-based services such as blockchain and the Internet of Things (IoT), it is evident that a cloud solution should aim to provide the following core characteristics:

• It must be enterprise strong, delivering a hybrid mix of choice and consistency and working across public, private, and hybrid deployments within flexible, secure infrastructure that enables enterprises to take full advantage of data.

• It must possess a data-centric architecture, prioritizing data diversity (the ability to combine public, private, and licensed data), data control with locality (understanding location, who is using the data and for what), and data isolation (preventing data from being mined for commercial purposes).

• It must be cognitive at its core: Today’s enterprise cloud must possess a full range of cognitive capabilities, from machine learning to AI.

As organizations around the world look to use AI to extract value from data, Watson on the IBM Cloud is the AI platform for business, differentiated by vertical domain depth and in how it protects clients’ data and insights.

For enterprises, data matters, and industry matters. That is why, IBM has built industry-specific cloud-based cognitive solutions in areas like oncology and life sciences in Watson Health and in areas like risk and compliance in Watson Financial Services.

IBM has embedded cloud and cognitive capabilities across its business, and its strategic imperatives are a signpost of the progress IBM is making in helping enterprise clients to extract value from data and become digital businesses. IBM’s strategic imperatives provide a cross-business view on how enterprises can leverage analytics, cloud, security, mobile, and social capabilities to foster innovation in their organizations.

Reshaping the Economy: Proposing A Methodology for Change

MARIOS KYRIACOU, SENIOR PARTNER, KPMG GREECE

As with any type of re-engineering, when endeavoring to reshape the economy, we must first determine its current status and specific circumstances before we can attempt to find solutions.

For years now, Greece has suffered mainly from the following (in no particular order of importance):

  • Heavy debt burden
  • Rampant tax evasion
  • Uncertain investment environment
  • High taxation rates
  • Economy in a state of flux
  • Bureaucracy
  • Brain drain
  • Overlapping and conflicting legislation
  • Very slow judicial system
  • Slow moving banking system

In lieu of proposing solutions, I will provide a methodology for resolving some of our problems and putting Greece on a path of increased growth.

First, we must determine our strategic plan—where we want Greece to stand within the Balkans, Europe, and the world—and from there we can develop our to-do list, which will help us formulate our actions and solutions.

In formulating solutions, we do not need to reinvent the wheel. We must research and assess what other countries have done to attract investment and improve their economies, and we should then choose those policies that are best suited to our situation.

In doing this, there are some basic facts that we need to acknowledge and be aware of. These are:

  • Growth arises from investments, be they public or private.
  • Given the current economic state of Greece, public investments are difficult due to the lack of funds. We must therefore focus on attracting private investment, both domestic and foreign.
  • In attracting private investment, we have to compete with many other countries.
  • Implementation of investments must be timely. It is not acceptable to allow years to lapse between submission of a business plan and its full implementation.
  • While the above obviously involve long term planning, there are some things that we can do in the short term too; these are:
  • Set up a committee to streamline the approval of investments, making decisions based on business plans and reports by independent professional advisors.
  • Cut bureaucracy. For example, allow the formation of shelf companies, allow registration with tax authorities by mail, limit documentation to be filed with tax authorities to the absolute minimum, etc.
  • Limit the number of permits required in order to commence operations.
  • Reduce tax rates to make them competitive.
  • Introduce measures to ensure fair tax treatment of investors and to provide quick, fair, and effective independent mediation for the resolution of disputed tax authority decisions.
  • Devise a system of effectively combating tax evasion so as to compensate, to some extent, tax rate reductions. Implement solutions that address tax evasion long-term, introducing long-lasting penalties, audits, and thorough origin of wealth checks for tax evaders instead of focusing on isolated enforcement.
  • Use digital technology as much as possible for simple services and for the submission of documents.

Finally, we must depart from the notion that everyone is a crook and that we must hence design elaborate bureaucratic systems to catch them (systems that have proven inadequate for that purpose anyway), and we must instead move to simpler systems that will be designed with a focus on honest people, enabling them to conduct their business easily and efficiently.

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