For CEE firms, digitalisation is no longer an optional extra

Digital transformation and technology can help companies strengthen their resilience and perseverance and increase their competitive advantage. 

The primary motivation of a company is to create, serve and keep a customer. In the current circumstances, business is about risk-taking and managing uncertainties and turbulence. 

“With a strong foundation in the cloud, organisations can drive transformation in a matter of weeks, not years,” says Kostas Loukas, General Manager Enterprise, Microsoft CEE. “For many companies, there is significant opportunity to further leverage the technology investments they’ve already made to innovate their business models using data. Moving to the cloud is the fundamental step to becoming data-led.” 

While many emerging Europe countries are still lagging behind their Western peers as far as the level of digitisation is concerned, the Microsoft Digital Futures Index shows that it’s not all bad news. 

For example, Hungary has one of the highest percentages of companies that employ IT specialists, one of the key enablers of digital progress in business.  

Croatia meanwhile scores the highest on above-basic digital skills of the general population. Romania offers the best environment for digital nomads and Estonia has the highest numbers of start-ups per capita.  

But the gap with Western European neighbours reinforces how big the scale of opportunity is. According to PwC’s research, for example, in Poland only 30 per cent of companies assess their cloud transformation matrix as high – but all that can change.   

 “The good news is that CEE companies tend to implement cloud later, but better,” says Mariusz Chudy, Technology Alliances Leader at PwC CEE. 

“They are moving towards large transformations instead of small projects. And the other good news is that data and AI are the sweet spot for any digital and cloud transformation.” 

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Polish grocery chain Żabka used its existing platform to accelerate the development of new digital solutions. Today, Europe’s largest chain of nearly 50 autonomous Żabka Nano stores, offering almost two million products, use Smart Store Analytics to improve the shopping experience – without cash, queues, and shop assistants. 

“There are two areas that we are focusing on: one is how we can create more value for the customer through analytics and the other one is how we can run the store more efficiently,” says Tomasz Blicharski, EVP, Żabka Group, Managing Director, Żabka Future. 

According to a recent PwC CEO Survey, nearly 45 per cent of CEOs in CEE think their organisations will not be economically viable in a decade if they continue on their current path. They will need to continue re-investing the business.  

Digital transformation and technology can help companies strengthen their resilience and perseverance and increase their competitive advantage. 

This article and accompanying video are part of Digital Future of CEE, a regional discussion series, powered by Emerging Europe, Microsoft and PwC.

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