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Panos Papazoglou, CEO of EY Greece: Investments in tech and data for recovery

About a year and a half after the outbreak of the pandemic in Greece and as the economic data have been overturned, the transformation of greek businesses is an imperative need and a prerequisite for them to be able to grow dynamically and perform their role as a driving force for the recovery of the greek economy.

Greek businesses, according to what Panagiotis Papazoglou, managing director of EY Greece, points out to Athens-Macedonian News Agency (AMNA) have two kinds of challenges ahead of them: initially, they have to deal with the changes caused by the pandemic worldwide, but also with the major changes that were already underway in previous years. Demographic changes, the digitalisation of the economy, the effects of the climate crisis, the rapid changes in consumer habits, and the demand of investors, but also of society, for the creation of long-term value from businesses. To meet these challenges, businesses will, in fact, need to completely redesign their strategy.

At the same time, in order to be able to respond to their development role, they will have to face a series of pathologies of the past: to drastically enhance their extroversion, to invest more in technology, innovation, but also the skills of their people, and, of course, to be magnified – through partnerships, mergers and acquisitions – to gain the critical mass that will allow them to compete on international markets. “It sounds like a heavy agenda, but all this should be done in no time, if we want greek businesses to leverage the resources of the Recovery Fund and multiply its positive impact on our economy”, stresses Mr. Papazoglou to AMNA.

He also adds that the heads of leading greek companies, in the context of the recent EY survey “CEO Imperative Study Greece 2021”, 72% say that they will spend more on their transformation in the next three years. A key pillar of transformation, for greek CEOs, is investments in technology and data, as they find that there our country is lagging far behind.Other priorities are the processes of decision making and allocating capital, the supply chain, risk management, the corporate culture and purpose of the business and, of course, the portfolio of products and services.

Regarding the sectors in which greek businesses should make the most important changes, Mr. Papazoglou underlines that they need to become more human-centered, in relation to the consumer, but also to the employee. They should also balance the requirement to create long-term value with their immediate development goals.

Finally, they need to become more flexible in order to be able to respond to the next disruptions of the global economy, as the pandemic will probably not be the last reversal we will experience.

“These are the businesses we need today, and these are the ones we want to highlight through this year’s EY competition, a Greek ”Entrepreneur of the Year”, which has just begun. Our intention is to honor those entrepreneurs who are not intimidated by adversity and difficulties, but turn them into opportunities to make their vision a reality, creating value for all their interests and for the whole society”, says Mr. Papazoglou to AMNA.

EY’s intention is to highlight and honor entrepreneurs who can act as role models for greek entrepreneurship and greek society in general. This includes businesses that in the difficult last years have kept the greek economy upright, but also those that can support the recovery and transformation of the economy in the years to come.

Although the two difficult circumstances we have gone through differ significantly from each other, as they are linked to different kinds of challenges, the entrepreneurs we want to honor have some important characteristics in common: the vision, the boldness, the determination, the inner strength that turns obstacles into steps of development, the extroversion, the innovation and the practical understanding of the role of entrepreneurship for the wider society, while applying transparent and robust corporate governance models.

“We have many entrepreneurs with these characteristics in our country and I would like to invite them to participate in the competition, in order to highlight together those models that can inspire and guide the whole greek entrepreneurship, as our country takes the step towards tomorrow”, notes Mr. Papazoglou.

Referring specifically to the economic and investment environment in the country, he notes: “There is no doubt that the investment environment has improved significantly”. According to the latest edition of EY’s annual survey, Attractiveness Survey Greece 2021,Greece is, for the first time, among the 10 most attractive European investment destinations, while all the individual indicators show a marked improvement for Greece.

“At the same time, we see the mix of investments – those made, but also those planned – changing, and increasing the participation of critical activities, such as research and development and technology”, says Mr. Papazoglou and adds: “These findings should not lead to complacency, but, on the contrary, show us the way forward. We need to upgrade education and human skills, invest in infrastructure, particularly digital ones, have a modern, stable and attractive tax framework and strengthen policies for the environment and sustainability. This battle should be fought jointly by the state and greek businesses.

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