Advancing Change by Embracing Transformation

JUL-AUG 2018|BY PEGGY ANTONAKOU, CEO, MICROSOFT GREECE, CYPRUS & MALTA
Technology as the key driver for a sustainable economic growth and prosperity—challenges and opportunities

Shaping the Future Now

When Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded Microsoft more than 40 years ago, their goal was to bring the benefits of software computing to everyone. Today, Microsoft is aiming to do something similar with innovative technologies designed to augment what people can do: We want to make these technologies available to everyone.

Our mission is indeed formidable: empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. And we’re committed to making sure that these revolutionary yet empowering technologies earn the trust of all.

Humanity is experiencing the most interesting of times. We stand on the cusp of a new era of technology, what many are referring to as a fourth industrial revolution. At the heart of this revolution will be technologies enabled and underpinned by cloud computing, better known as simply “the cloud,” which allows the collection, storage and analysis of data at unprecedented scale and speed. It is this ability to store and process huge amounts of information that is at the heart of data-driven technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, that, for the first time in history, unlocks the potential for addressing some of humanity’s biggest problems.

It is estimated, for example, that AI alone could increase labor productivity by as much as 40 percent, driving global GDP growth by an additional 25 percent by 2035. Compared to other productivity factors, such as equipment or even buildings, AI’s ability to learn and improve—rather than degrade—over time will augment human abilities such as creativity and sensitivity in unprecedented ways! The combination of AI and other cloud-enabled technologies, such as data analytics, will drive an even greater technology boom, powering advances in robotics, genomics, materials sciences and 3-D printing.

As with previous technological revolutions, these technologies also create challenges. Some of the concerns raised are justified. Indeed, jobs will be lost (although others will be created), people with no access to technology will fall behind, cyberattack threats are expected to rise, and there are reasonable ethical concerns regarding the use of personal data collected by companies or governments. Microsoft acknowledges all the above and is addressing these challenges responsibly by:

  • Ensuring that emerging technologies, such as AI, are developed and deployed in a responsible, ethical and human-centered way;
  • Providing people and organizations with the skills and support needed to succeed today and, in the future;
  • Committing that data collected remain both secure and private, protected from increasing cyberattacks.

Empowering Greece

In today’s digital world, governments, organizations and companies of all sizes and sectors are looking to transform, and this means competing in a cloud-first world and with an entirely new set of competitors. Greece, as part of the global community, is not an exception.

The fact is that Greeks are no longer asking why it’s critical to embrace technology. The question now is, “How do we best embrace new technologies to empower our people and take the country forward?” We understand that neither the government nor businesses can do this alone. As a company that is helping to drive technology innovation in this new era, we recognize our responsibility to work in partnership with the government as well as with institutions, companies, communities and citizens to help advance social and economic progress, accelerate changes and embrace transformation.

And this is exaxtly what we have been focusing on in Greece for the past 26 years. We support the country, its governnment, its organizations and its citizens to enter this new era, lead in excellence and create a better future and quality of life for all.

A recent Microsoft study regarding small- and medium-sized businesses showed that we are on the right path: Two out of three respondents believe that cloud is an important success factor for a business, while more than half consider the cloud to be significant for the development of their business. Companies that invest in the transition from traditional architecture to cloud, 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.

Furthermore, the digital transformation of public administration is an area where technology can assist in resolving fundamental issues, such as sustainable growth and the increase of productivity in the public sector, without spending additional financial resources at a national level. A simple example? According to a recent study by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE), the adoption of digital signature solutions in Greek public administration is expected to reduce costs by about €380 million in the first year of its implementation (Source: http://iobe.gr/
research_dtl_en.asp?RID=108). However, the digital agenda requires a strategic approach, early adoption of new tecnologies, commitment, long-term objectives and measurable outcomes. After all, improving collaboration and transparency between business, government and citizens is the best way to build truly inclusive and democratic society.

At Microsoft, we are constantly fostering innovation, and we are proud to support startups and innovative industries thanks to our partners ecosystem and our very own Microsoft Innovation Centre, one of 40 MICs globally, which has been operating since 2008. Last, but not least, through our educational programs and our work with local NGOs, we are supporting Greece’s youth to focus on digital skills, ensuring that no one is left behind while technology advances.

As Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella often says, “Our industry does not respect tradition. What it respects is innovation.”

Microsoft is operating in Greece with a vision and strategy built around embracing innovation and infusing digital tranformation to its partners, customers and broader ecosystem. This new wave of technologies, built around cloud computing and AI, offers our country huge potential in its ongoing quest to create a prosperous and healthy society. The challenges are as real as the opportunities. To address both, we must all work together for the common good, embrace transformation and use technology as the key driver for sustainable economic growth and prosperity.

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