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Perspectives 2024: the challenges of digitization

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Perspectives 2024: the challenges of digitization

In September, the European Commission published its first report on the state of the “digital decade”. According to the data collected in it, our country’s performance in the area of business digitization is still below the EU average. Cloud services are used by 19 percent of Polish companies (the EU average is 34 percent) and electronic information exchange by 32 percent (the EU average is 38 percent). In addition, only 18 percent of Polish companies actively use social media, and 3 percent integrate AI technologies into their operations[1].  This is far too little. It’s not enough to meet the challenges of EU policy, which calls for 75 percent of businesses to already be using cloud, AI and big data by 2030, and for more than 90 percent of EU SMEs to reach at least a basic level of digital usage[2].

Meanwhile, experts agree that the broader digitization of the economy is here to stay. As the Amazon Web Services report shows, the vast majority of the few companies that have implemented artificial intelligence have achieved revenue growth. According to AWS, increasing the pace of adoption of advanced digital technologies, especially artificial intelligence, could generate PLN 576 billion for the Polish economy by 2030.[3]

Have both feet on the ground

In February of this year, we learned the results of the Test of Digital Maturity (TDC), an advanced tool that allows companies to assess their level of digital readiness and identify areas for development. In total, nearly 300 companies participated during the year. Nearly 70% were micro and small enterprises, and 12% were large enterprises.

On average, large companies achieved the highest scores (companies with 250 to 1,000 employees achieved an average TDC score of 61%, and companies with more than 1,000 employees achieved 57%). Single-employee companies performed the worst, with an average TDC score of 44%. This demonstrates the importance of the resources available within an organization for digital development. The highest TDC scores were achieved by companies involved in communications. Companies in the construction, manufacturing, and education sectors have the most room for improvement in their digital literacy[4].

However, it is worth looking at the detailed results, which can tell us a lot about the position and condition of Polish industry in the face of the challenges of the modern world: trade and manufacturing.

And so on:

  • Only 24% of companies have mapped their business processes.
  • 43% of companies do not use cloud solutions.
  • Nearly 70% of companies do not use process automation tools.
  • Only 14% of companies are analyzing data in big data sets.
  • Only 16% use AI or machine learning in their structures.
  • 41% of organizations require manual data exchange in systems (not automated).
  • Only 34% of companies have a dedicated person or unit responsible for cybersecurity.
  • 56% of organizations have communication failures (these activities are not automated and not real-time).

These not-so-optimistic data – confirm that the Digi Index reading of October 2023, was not just an unpleasant accident, but illustrated a lasting trend.

Many factors have contributed to the slowdown and postponement of digitization. Companies have reached a certain stage, and in the face of various global turmoil, they have somehow said let’s wait, let’s not rush. However, this should not be seen as a defeat, but perhaps more as a strategic pause. If we look at a number of sectors and individual companies, we see that change is happening, albeit slowly.

The Digi Index, which was created by Siemens four years ago, examines the level of digitization of Polish mid-sized companies operating in the main manufacturing industries: food and beverages, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, automotive and mechanical engineering. In 2022, the index value was 2.4; a year later, it was only 1.8.

We are seeing changes in many of the companies we work with to organize our events. From this perspective, I can say that we all undoubtedly care about operational efficiency, increased employee production and sales. No one needs to be convinced that companies equipped with an efficient digital infrastructure can quickly adapt to changes in the market, which leads to improved efficiency, increased profitability and greater competitiveness on the market – emphasizes Iwona Gramatyka.

In January this year, Gazeta Prawna published a column by Zbigniew Bartus entitled “More robots and AI immediately. Poland must start catching up with Germany”. The author of the publication made a simple diagnosis. In his opinion, which is hard to disagree with, the only chance for the Polish economy in the new global economic reality is mass digitization, accelerated automation, robotization and the spread of artificial intelligence.

Polish industry, with its unobtrusive pace of digitalization, forgets that market leaders are not waiting for us to “catch up” with them… they are running all the time. We have already lost ground not only to the Germans, but also to the Czechs[5].

The outlook for 2024 is a theme that we will systematically return to. In the following articles we will write about reskilling or the great skills reset, we will not forget the topics of nearshoring or friendshoring, AI in industry, and the opportunities and threats of robotization and automation. We will look at the economic consequences of war, as well as the industrial strategy of the defense sector in the EU and its possible implications for Poland.

[1] Cyfryzacja biznesu w Polsce – Cyfryzacja biznesu w Polsce (architektura.info)

[2] Fundusze z UE: czy pomogą w cyfryzacji polskim firmom? – dlaProdukcji.pl

[3] https://businessinsider.com.pl/gospodarka/polskie-firmy-juz-zarabiaja-na-ai-i-to-wiecej-niz-inni-w-ue/z74n6hz

[4] Cyfrowa kondycja polskich firm w dobie digitalizacji. Rok z Testem Dojrzałości Cyfrowej (pfr.pl)

[5] https://forsal.pl/lifestyle/technologie/artykuly/9405581,ai-roboty-polski-przemysl-musi-gonic-niemcy.html

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