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AmCham Business Breakfast, Ljubljana, October 14, 2016. Digitalization keeps drastically changing our everyday life. The dimensions of these changes can be seen at all levels of action: citizens, state, and society. In the following years, digitalization challenges will become the center of attention; we therefore have to face them as soon as possible if we want to keep up with trends.

Marko Derča, Associated Vice President at A.T. Kearney, presented a study on collaborative innovation by pointing out: “Different industries and people understand digital transformation in a completely different way, but they all have something in common – innovation. Innovation is one of the most important keys to success. It is a driver for profitable sustainable growth and promotes the importance of European countries. Collaborative innovation is one of the most successful business models, consisting of open cooperation and innovation sharing among business partners. In 2016, Slovenia dropped from 28th to 32nd place on the Global Innovation Index. We need better infrastructure, companies’ platforms have to change faster. We should not be afraid of changes, but we have to watch for mistakes and learn from them as much as possible.”

Due to the fast pace of change, governments and regulators have to cooperate closely with the private sector and civil society if we want to follow trends and be successful. Boris Koprivnikar, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Public Administration of the Republic of Slovenia, and leader of the initiative Slovenia – a Green Reference Country in Digital Europe, presented the government’s plans for improving citizens’ quality of life and business opportunities in a digital society: “Most importantly, we have to create an environment adapted for new business models as a consequence of digital transformation. Modern society needs fast communication accessible everywhere and for everyone. We need open data that can be quickly exchanged. Our work has to be based on a collaborative economy model. We must regulate taxation and consumer safety. A typical, but definitely not simple example, is Uber. What is the status of Uber drivers? How are they to be taxed? Who is responsible for passengers’ safety? These are questions that have to be addressed. Our legal environment is not yet ready for that.” Regarding the preparation for the digital transformation, Mr. Koprivnikar stressed that Slovenia is as prepared as other countries are, but it is important that we quickly and thoroughly adapt to changes: “The role of politics is to improve the lives of citizens and the business environment in Slovenia. We have to make it possible for people to acquire skills much faster and to find a job more easily. Sadly, the pace of change is so fast that it is hard to follow. There is no time to plan, we have to act.”

Alison L. White, Director of Community Engagement at The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company and Vice President of The Goodyear Foundation, presented their view on the role of employees in the digital era: “We are aware of the fact that younger generations work and live on the internet, that is way we gladly accept the innovations they suggest. By incorporating them, we can achieve more.  And that is the winning combination.”

Mitja Jermol, Head of the Center for Knowledge Transfer in IT at Jozef Stefan Institute, stressed the necessity for change and the integration of older people: “Due to the changes in digital technology, we have to change the regulations and legislation. At first, there were just computers. By adding the internet, we have created a communication medium. We must always perfect what we have by adding small yet important innovations. Moreover, we should encourage older generations to be prepared for constant change allowing them to keep up.” 

Matej Potokar, General Manager of Customer Service and Support for Western Europe at Microsoft, pointed out: “We are in the midst of industrial revolution 4.0 and the digital transformation is inevitable. Not yes or no, the important question is how. Nobody can predict in which direction the future will evolve and what the world will look like in five years. For Slovenia, this is a historic opportunity to penetrate the market; we are just the right size, and we have a really strong base for the implementation of new models.” Mr. Potokar explained that Microsoft’s success is based on consumer satisfaction. “At the end of the day, it is not just about the technology, but about how the users perceive it.”

Susan Danger, CEO of AmCham EU, who has been listed among the top twenty influential women in Brussels by Politico, and Janko Medja, CEO of Elektronček, actively participated from the audience and shared their views. Susan Danger emphasized the importance of decentralization and the shift in power from the government to the people: “Groups that have had no voice until now are now gaining influence. This is the result of digitalization.” Janko Medja pointed out that we must all contribute to accepting changes and digital transformation: “We must be much more efficient, we need to act faster, be active in partnerships, and, even more importantly, we have to be responsible and protect consumers. The most important thing is that we do not remain static but move forward and stay positive.”

The AmCham Business Breakfast was organized as part of the European conference AmChams in Europe 2016 Best Practices, proudly hosted in Ljubljana by AmCham Slovenia for the first time. Ajša Vodnik, MSc, Executive Director of AmCham Slovenia, pointed out the importance of integration and cooperation to the gathered economists and representatives of numerous European and Eurasian countries: “Imagine a union with representatives in all European end Eurasian countries. A union that is innovative and ready to serve not only the economy but also the welfare of each country and its citizens with friendship as its core value. As I look around at us gathered here, I see that such a union already exists, and I am happy that we are all part of it. We have to nurture our relations, cooperate, spread optimism, and inspire positive changes together.”

You can find the photo gallery HERE.

Video clip is available HERE.

The presentation by Marko Derča, Associated Vice President at A.T. Kearney is available HERE.

The Digital Excellence Study of A.T. Kearney is available HERE.

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