AmCham Breakfast Panel: Successful Companies welcome Change

The debate as part of the AmCham Reinvention Breakfast at the Bled Strategic Forum (BSF) concluded that what made companies successful was their willingness to cope with the challenge of reinventing themselves and adjusting to constant change brought by digitalisation and the rise of artificial intelligence.

At the panel called Predicting the Unpredictable: How to Win in the Flow of Constant Change? , Mr Marten Kaevats, National Digital Advisor to the Government Office of Estonia, said that making predictions was really hard, “a kind of witchcraft”.

According to him, digitalisation is actually about cultural change. Although it is believed that technology is only a tool, it becomes a purpose in its own right, but it is not about gadgets, it is about culture and mindset, he said.

Mr Joško Mrndze, Country Manager Adriatic Region for Google in Croatia, added that constant change and disruption was a good thing, as it encouraged companies to be resilient, fast and adaptable.

For Mr Mrndze, disruption may have a negative connotation, but only for those who are not able to adapt. “Disruption is actually progress, and thinking from a different point of view will eventually bring benefits in the long run.”

A setup should be created where innovativeness will come out of as a natural process. ”With the arrival of more sophisticated tools, some jobs will be replaced by automation, but we will have more time for creativity,” he opined.

Mr Gregor Potočar, Managing Director South-East Europe at SAP SE, also touched on disruption, which is not actually disruption for him, as “we are living the change every day” and “recipe for survival is to change fast enough”.

He stressed that his company had managed to reinvent itself a couple of times in history, and that successful companies actually wanted change, while it is not a big deal if some companies fail to do so.

Disruption and transformation was also welcomed by Dr Matthias Sachs, Director of Corporate Affairs at Microsoft CEE, who sees a “lot of appetite for transformation” during his regional trips.

He argued that large corporations such as Microsoft wanted to give back something to societies, help transform them, and be responsible and transparent, especially when it comes to artificial intelligence (AI).

AI is something Mr Joe Dumoulin, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer at Verint Systems Intelligent Self-Service in United States, deals with, seeing it as a tool to help people and companies make better analytical decisions.

The biggest problem however is getting the right data to solve a problem. “We are sometimes trying to answer questions with wrong data, perhaps this is something that will change with AI,” he added.

Ms Ina Kukovič Borovnik, Founder of BELAVODA, Slovenia, meanwhile argued that most people did not like change, as “our brains, our bodies, our systems are not built to reinvent, they are built to last, because change was a rare occurrence in the past.”

But she also pointed out that reinvention was a special skill people needed to revive and which people are very good at, adding that this is a must: at the current pace “you have to reinvent yourself and your company every three and a half years.”

Mr Nikola Slavnič, CEO of In Your Pocket in Slovenia, discussed a similar idea, saying that, as the future is very unpredictable, “you have to offer a different product, original product, you have to stay original, stay yourself, not to be a bad copy.”