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Majo Mićović, President Of The Swiss-serbian Chamber Of Commerce, SSCC

Successes That Should Be Repeated

SSCC member companies are extremely satisfied that digitalisation and e-government have gained great importance within the scope of the Government of the Republic of Serbia’s structural reform measures, and they expect similar advances when it comes to the Green Agenda

The majority of countries – Serbia included – are currently confronted by inflation problems that lead to a slowdown in economic growth. However, members of the Swiss-Serbian Chamber of Commerce are on the whole optimistic regarding their operations in Serbia. Also testifying to this is the research survey entitled “Questionnaire on the business climate in Serbia in 2023”, which was conducted by the Swiss-Serbian Chamber of Commerce among its member companies in April 2023. The majority of respondent companies (71.43%) rated the Serbian business climate as satisfactory. When it comes to comparing business conditions year-on-year, 53.57% of surveyed members companies believe that conditions will remain unchanged compared to 2022, explains SSCC President Majo Micović.

This survey’s results also show that most companies expect further changes to the business climate in the areas of the efficiency of public institutions and administrations, the enforcement of legislation and on the ensuring of legal certainty and stability.

In the opinion of the expert public, but also the IMF, Serbia should devote more attention to structural reforms. From the perspective of the SSCC, in which areas has good progress been made on regulatory reforms and where do you see room for further advances?

Within the framework of structural reform measures, the Government of the Republic of Serbia recognised the importance of digitalisation and the development of e-government, which has contributed significantly to development in this area over the past few years. The results of the aforementioned SSCC survey show that our member companies are satisfied with the development of e-banking (85.71% of surveyed companies), e-government (78.57% of surveyed companies) and e-procurement (71.43% of surveyed companies). Priority positions in the area of digitalisation are occupied by artificial intelligence, cyber-security and biotechnology.

However, alongside the digital transformation of the economy, it is also essential to carry out the green transformation of the economy, and I expect the Green Agenda of the Republic of Serbia to enable local companies to develop sustainable business models, but also to apply innovative solutions with the aim of boosting their competitiveness, both on the domestic and world markets. Green transition not only requires the use of new technologies, but also additional employee training and advancing the capacity of companies to carry our research & development. These are the reasons why it is essential to secure the joint and coordinated work of all participants in the implementation of the green transformation of the economy, among which I would stress the importance of maintaining regular dialogue between the state and the business sector.

Your Chamber has its own digital taskforce, in the form of the SSCC Working Group on Digitalisation. Which topics are in the focus of this group and how do you see the development of the digitalisation process in Serbia?

The first meeting of the SSCC Working Group on Digitalisation was held in June, on the premises of company Roche d.o.o. The following topics were in the focus of discussions: cyber-security as an important segment of the operations of every company and organisation; the use of artificial intelligence in daily operations (Chat GTP) and the need to further improve the legislative framework as it pertains to artificial intelligence; the need for further investment in scientific and research work and on the introduction of new technologies, particularly in the fields of agriculture and healthcare; as well as the need to invest further in the digital transformation of enterprises.

SSCC member companies would like to see progress in the areas of the efficiency of public institutions and administrations, the enforcement of legislation and on the ensuring of legal certainty and stability

Further meetings of the Working Group on Digitalisation are planned for this September and October, which will enable us to gather more information on the experiences and challenges confronting our member companies in the area of digitalisation.

Swiss companies are among the leading investors in Serbia in the area of IT, while successful Swiss companies attach great importance to improving the security of information systems and technologies. Based on your contacts with companies, what level would you say awareness of this is at in our country?

Cyber-attacks are ever more complex and frequent, and awareness of the necessity to protect sensitive data among companies is growing year-on-year.

Practice has shown that the largest number of cyber-attacks are enabled due to human error and carelessness. It is thus essential to raise awareness among employees in various positions in order to prevent human error that could endanger the entire information system, even if the latest, cutting-edge technologies are used for protection.

Company Sky Express, whose operations I’m responsible for, is this year in a position to offer a unique platform for educating employees in various positions on safe behaviour in the digital environment.

85.71% of surveyed SSCC members are satisfied with the development of e-banking, 78.57% with e-government and 71.43% with e-procurement

This platform differs from others that are available on the market in that it was created as a result of collaboration with cyber-security experts, professional educators and psychologists specialised in the field of behavioural analytics. It is easy to use, available in the Serbian language and adapted to each user individually, all with the aim of encouraging the safe behaviour of users in the digital world. It is implemented over the long term, in continuity, and becomes part of the daily routine during work.

We can only minimise the risk of cyber- attacks if a company’s entire team is educated in an adequate way.

Considering that cyber-security represents an extremely specific branch of the IT industry, I would direct companies and organisations towards technology experts who are able to help them protect one of the most valuable resources in their company: digital data. Cyber-security shouldn’t be viewed as an option, but rather as an indispensable part of the digital transformation plan of every company and organisation.

Cyber-security is an essential topic. In your opinion, what will be the biggest challenges in this area in 2024?

The biggest challenge in the area of cyber-security for years has been the shortage of trained and experienced personnel. And judging on the basis of analyses and indicators, this trend will also continue in 2024, with a tendency for demand to increase.

The response to this challenge has also gradually crystallised and is represented by the offer of specialised cyber-security services (MSSP – Managed Security Services Provider), based on suitable tools and the best experts and engineers. Users are thereby able to significantly reduce the risk of threats, or even eliminate them completely. by engaging specialised cyber-security services.

Simply by comparing the financial and material resources required to establish an internal security programme, with the additional problem of a lack of human resources and with the cost of specialised cyber-security services, we reach an extremely favourable cost-benefit ratio that these services yield, and that do so from the very start of use of the service. Companies thereby ensure their operational continuity, as well as ensuring that their operations are aligned with regulations.

DIALOGUE

it is essential to secure the joint and coordinated work of all participants in the green transformation of the economy, and here maintaining a regular dialogue between the state and business is particularly important

SECURITY

Cyber-security shouldn’t be viewed as an option, but rather as an indispensable part of the digital transformation plan of every company and organisation

INVESTMENT

It is necessary to continue investment in scientific and research work, and on the implementation of new technologies, particularly in the fields of agriculture and healthcare