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Predrag Nikolić, Managing Director of the CCIS Centre for Digital Transformation

Supporting SME Digitalisation

With CDT assistance, it is quicker and easier for small and medium-sized enterprises to traverse the digitalisation process and apply artificial intelligence to their business processes

The Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Serbia’s Centre for Digital Transformation (CDT) has created the SME Digital Transformation Support Programme, which has been devised as a strategic consulting support services for companies from the MSME sector through an elaborate and advanced process that encompasses all elements: from the initial diagnosis of problem to the determining of solutions, with co-financing of up to 6,000 euros for solutions and tracking their implementation, monitoring the effects of implementation after one year.

“Over the course of the five years of the operations of the Centre for Digital Transformation to date, applications for inclusion in CDT programmes have been submitted by 3,500 companies from all branches of industry that vary in size and in terms of geographical distribution (92 towns and cities in Serbia). A large segment of these companies have, together with our 68 certified digital transformation consultants, traversed the entire pathway from defining the required steps to digital transformation to the implementation of those solutions,” explains Predrag Nikolić, managing director of the Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Serbia’s Centre for Digital Transformation.

In which sectors are digitalisation and process automation most prevalent today and why?

— Digitalisation and process automation are particularly topical today in the sectors of IT, production, logistics and finance. In the IT sector, they enable more efficient data management, software development and the implementation of new technologies. In production processes, digitalisation improves the management of the production chain and optimises processes. Logistics benefits from better tracking and management of inventories, while the financial sector uses automation to make transactions and data analysis faster and more precise. These technologies improve efficiency, reduce costs and boost competitive advantages.

Which processes do companies most often digitalise and automate? What are the most important motives of these companies and how deeply do these processes really penetrate their core business?

— Companies often digitalise and automate key business processes in order to increase efficiency, reduce costs and improve their overall productivity. The processes that are most commonly digitalised and automated include administrative processes, production processes and customer relationship management (CRM).

More than 900 digital solutions have been implemented through the programmes of the centre for digital transformation, with a total of 312,692,730.93 dinars, or 2,667,403.49 euros, having been spent to date on their implementation in programmes for 2021 and 2022.

The motives behind digitalisation and automation include a desire to speed up responses to market changes, increase existing competitive advantages, reduce errors, improve the user experience and optimise operating costs. These processes often penetrate deeply into companies’ core business as they enable better decision-making, more efficient resource management and the creation of more agile business environment. Digital transformation is becoming an integral part of business strategies, and companies that implement these changes successfully gain an advantage in a dynamic business environment.

Do you have a sufficient number of certified consultants, given the demand among companies?

— One of the first steps in the establishment of a digital transformation support model, especially for SMEs, was the forming of a network of certified digital transformation consultants with know-how and experience in processes related to the digitalisation of an entire business.

Over a period of five years, the CDT trained and certified (ISO 17024 standard) 68 consultants from the fields of business models and processes, e-commerce and social media, IT security and GDPR, as well as an artificial intelligence (AI) module. Moreover, the CDT has six trained and certified CDT trainers for future generations of certified consultants. Our plan is for us to have approximately 100 certified consultants over the next two years, in order for us to get to 1,500 companies that will go through the CDT consulting process by year’s end 2025, via the MSME Digital Transformation Support Programme.

We are bearing witness to the dramatic development of machine learning and artificial intelligence. How prevalent are these processes in our country and how is the CDT preparing to assist companies in switching to these complex technologies?

— The CDT introduced an artificial intelligence model to its operations a year ago, or rather it trained and certified consultants in this field at the initiative of the Government of the Republic of Serbia.

The CDT launched its SME sector Support Programme in this area during last year, because AIbased solutions are being utilised increasingly to automate and optimise business processes, regardless of the branch of industry in which companies operate.

One of the most significant benefits of AI is the system for automating marketing that can implement machine learning in order to improve the targeting of users, conceive more precise communications and construct conclusions on the basis of their behaviour. Moreover, AI integrated with CRM is able to perform real-time analysis and provide recommendations and predictions on the basis of a company’s business processes and customer data – it can assess the sentiments of customers as expressed in social media posts, recorded conversions, customer reviews and emails.

The launch of operations of the Business Innovation HUB has been announced. Why is this important for the Serbian economy?

— The CDT HUB is a platform that prioritises the encouraging of collaboration between IT companies, start-ups, investors, experts, representatives of public institutions and traditional firms. Its main mission is to ease the joint creation of innovative solutions that enhance the competitiveness and productivity of all parties involved.

The basic value of the operations of the CDT HUB is its commitment to bridging the gap between IT companies and traditional businesses. By providing a common space for engagement, this platform enables IT firms to gain valuable insights from conventional businesses, improving their products and services in order to satisfy evolving market demands. At the same time, traditional firms gain access to the latest technologies, which helps them modernise and encourages efficiency and competitiveness on a developing market.

PLANS

Our plan is for us to have approximately 100 certified consultants over the next two years, in order for us to get to 1,500 companies that will go through the CDT consulting process by year’s end 2025.

AI

Over the course of last year, the CDT supported 30 companies from the SME sector that implemented AI solutions after working with us, through a subsidy of up to 12,000 euros per company.

DEVELOPMENT

The CDT HUB brings together IT companies and traditional businesses… This platform enables IT firms to gain valuable insights from their operations, to improve their products and services and offer them on the market.