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Digitization as a reform: the case of Greece

On January 17, 2023, Minister of Digital Governance of Greece, Kyriakos Pierrakakis, had a lively, interactive discussion with Apostolos Mangiriadis, News Anchor of Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT), at the ACG Events Hall. The event was part of the Deree student activity hour and was organized by the Office of Public Affairs and ACG Research, Technology & Innovation Network (RTIN). There was a great turnout and the hall was packed with Deree students, School Deans and Faculty. ACG President, David. G. Horner was also in the audience. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Scholars’ Organization and the following Deree Academic Societies: IT, Cybersecurity, MIS, Philosophy and International Honors Program were supporters of this event.

Ms. Claudia Carydis, Vice President of Public Affairs at ACG, gave the welcoming address and remarked how this is the first of many public events that the college will be organizing during the Deree student activity hour. Dr. Constantinos Papadias, Executive Director of the RTIN, took the floor and presented ACG’s substantial academic and research activities across all divisions. Alexandros Marios Konstantes, Stavros Niarchos Foundation Scholarship recipient and parallel student at Deree Minoring in Accounting and Finance, introduced the speakers.

Minister Pierrakakis shared his insights on Greece’s digital transformation, and in particular, digitizing the Greek state, further developing Greece’s telecommunications industry, promoting digital skills in education and enhancing digital business services. On his first day in office, Mr. Pierrakakis said that there was a clear vision of digitizing processes in the government but unexpected challenges, such as the pandemic and getting public servants on board with the new implementation plan, accelerated the need for change.

To ensure digital transformation in Greece, Mr. Pierrakakis stated that “people needed to trust the way we deliver services and the vaccination rollout was a service design exercise to ensure trust.” In terms of the difficulties faced during the pandemic, the Minister admitted that there were small technical failures but these “served as lessons to achieve a better outcome. Failure is an element of success and must be grasped in our managerial performance.” In his words, “technology and businesses should be integrated and need to coexist for a project to be successful.”

What should we expect in digital transformation in the next four years? Mr. Pierrakakis has a 4-fold plan: (1) implement digital transformation across all processes in the Greek state, (2) transition to 5G and by 2027, cover all of Greece in fiber optics, (3) expand the startup ecosystem with highly skilled IT graduates and (4) penetrate digital services to SMEs, businesses and citizens. The Minister was impressed with the degree offerings at Deree and stated how IT graduates now have greater job opportunities in the tech ecosystem due to investments in Greece by companies, like Microsoft, Google and Pfizer.

The event wrapped up with a Q&A where students posed questions to the Minister about implementing digital transformation in Greek public schools and the accessibility of these services to disabled persons. Mr. Pierrakakis closed the event with the following:

Accessibility is a core priority of digital transformation. Through this, we accumulate the trust of our citizens and endorsement by public servants. When reform is done, we must ensure to make the Greek people part of the reform.