A key conclusion of the panel on digital dialogue within the first day of the SUMMIT100 Business Leaders is that the business sector’s investments in digital transformation will have permanent value since it will be increasingly present in the society, as well as that it is an irreversible process. At the panel opening, the participants were addressed via video link by Maria Gabriel, European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society.
Key spreaker, Antonella Mei-Pochtler, The Boston Consulting Group, said that digital leadership is increasingly an emerging-market phenomenon as consumers and companies are embracing online technologies and tools. She stressed out that by leveraging digital technologies, emerging-market companies, like those in Southeastern Europe, have a unique opportunity to leapfrog structural challenges and compete successfully in a global market.”By leveraging BCG has identified the top 100 most successful and rapidly globalizing companies from emerging markets, which it calls the “Global Challengers.” It has found that almost 60% of the companies on the 2018 global challenger list are either digital natives or significant digital adopters, compared with only 17% in 2012. These companies are achieving their leadership positions by leapfrogging their developed-markets counterparts”, noted Mei-Pochtler.
“Serbia is moving forward and adapts to digital transformation, but the question is how it can respond to challenges brought by opening of the market after joining the European Union, bearing in mind that global companies, such as the largest online shop, “Amazon”, make take a slice of the cake and “eat” us up,” says President of the New Frontier Group Branislav Vujović. He added that it was vital to start designing our e-commerce platforms as soon as possible and that it was necessary to design a shopping platform, as well as those that could be used in all other segments.
Bel Medic Director Jasmina Knežević underlined that we all would largely benefit from digital transformation, including the healthcare sector. Talking about genetic engineering, she said that thanks to new technologies, a part of body could be produced using our genes.
Blaž Brodnjak from NLB Bank said that banking services had to be digitalised, otherwise they would cease to exist, since it was what clients demanded. He stressed out that we had to present the entire region as a region of digital payments.
One of the regularly discussed topics at the SUMMIT100 is facilitation of trade in the region. At the panel with ministers of Serbia and countries in the region as speakers, it was announced that there were very clear action plans that were being implemented and that they would enable harmonization of document and certificate verification in the countries of the region in the coming period, complemented by joint border controls, aimed at reducing time and costs of foreign trade. The private sector was recognized as a generator of these processes and the main supervisor of the agreement implementation.
I believe that formats such as the SUMMIT100 are beneficial for our cooperation in the region, which we should strengthen in all segments. We need to look for joint answers and a strategy for common interests,” said Serbian Minister of Mining and Energy Aleksandar Antić at the panel with ministers from the region. He added that countries in the region should cooperate much closer in the energy sector and that they could establish a joint power market. “Each of our power commodity exchanges is too small to be sustainable but it would be much more stable at the regional level. We aim to work on that and we are open for collaboration,” noted Antić, underlining that cooperation in the energy sector had to be much stronger as energy did not recognize borders.
BiH Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Mirko Šarović said that borders and customs barriers were a major obstacle to improving cooperation. “Digitization is the issue of free flow of goods without intermediaries. Free-cargo is in expansion but we as the region, including BiH, lag behind. It is the future and today and tomorrow’s conclusions will probably be that the region should respond to these challenges ahead of us as well,” said Šarović, adding that poor infrastructure was the main obstacle to development of the region.
“E-mobility is the last lesson that the Republic of Macedonia should learn and therefore I believe that we need to go back to the basics. The countries of the region need to be better connected and we as the government will work on developing better infrastructure and establishing better conditions for companies, as well as on enabling faster, more efficient and safer transport of people and goods,” noted Macedonian Deputy PM Kocho Angjushev. He also underlined that the countries of the region were mutually less connected than the region was with Brussels and that it was necessary to create joint projects, with state and political support.
According the Deputy Speaker of the Montenegrin Parliament Branimir Gvozdenović, ”politics should move from words to action”. “Ambassadors of all the countries in the region are in Belgrade, so call and tell them what business challenges of today include,” said Gvozdenović, highlighting that Montenegro invested more than a billion euros in connecting with Italy in the energy sector and inviting all countries with power surplus to export it via Montenegro.
A ceremonial dinner at the end of the first day of the SUMMIT100 Business Leaders was attended by the First Deputy PM of Serbia and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ivica Dačić.