The coronavirus pandemic in Greece acted as an accelerator for the digital transformation of the country as several services got digitalized quickly and efficiently. Greece, as soon as the first lockdown was imposed last spring, launched an online platform offering services such as medical prescriptions, residence certificates, recognition of university degrees etc. At the same time ministerial cabinet meetings were held through online meeting platforms, while distance learning and teleworking was expanding among the student and working communities. During the second lockdown, last November in the country, Greece made an impressive progress in distance learning as all classes, from nursery schools to universities, were held on-line without interruptions or obstacles.
According to available data presented in an extensive report created by Found.ation in collaboration with EIT Digital (part of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology) the majority of companies surveyed recognize the importance of digital transformation, as 90.2% have either initiated or intend to activate a digital transformation roadmap immediately. In addition, before the pandemic, 7 out of 10 Greek companies had only 25% of their workforce in remote work whereas after the outbreak of Covid-19, 6 out of 10 companies have more than 50 % of their employees working remotely.
The Greek Ministry of Digital Governance recently presented a Digital Transformation “bible” for the years 2020-2025 outlining a holistic digital strategy that was initially designed before the pandemic outbreak, it had though to move faster due to the urgent situation. The “bible” outlines the guiding principles, the strategic axes and the horizontal and vertical interventions that will lead to the digital transformation of the Greek society and economy. Through collaborations with stakeholders from the public and private sector as well as with the research & academic community and the civil society, the “bible” describes the objectives but also the implementation measures of the digital transformation strategy. It should be noted that the formulation of the Action Plan of the strategy is an open and dynamic process as new actions will be added when needed.
The new national Digital Transformation strategy sets seven objectives as follows:
1. Safe, fast, and reliable access to the Internet for all
The aim is to ensure a favourable regulatory and legislative framework and upgrade fixed network infrastructure for the development of 5th generation (5G) infrastructures. Through the new national cyber security strategy information systems, digital services and infrastructures will be inspected following the proper security procedures. Digital services and websites will be redesigned according to the principle of universal design in order to make them accessible to all population groups.
2. A digital state offering better digital services to the citizens for all life events
The aim is to meet citizen’s needs through the simplification of digital services and the provision of digital solutions. The National Portal for the Provision of Digital Services (gov.gr) has already been created and the aim is to serve as a central point of entrance and reference regarding information and digital of the Public Administration. The interconnection and interoperability among the basic Registries are also described in the “bible”.
3. Development of digital skills for all citizens
The aim is to enhance the teaching of innovation technologies in all education levels, from the secondary level to universities, in order to improve student’s digital abilities, while the creation of a Digital Academy for citizens will ensure that people of all ages will be able to acquire the needed skills through live or online programs whenever needed.
4. Facilitate the transformation to digital enterprise
The aim is to help all Greek enterprises becoming digital ones through training programs, the creation of a central digital invoices system and the support of electronic commerce solutions in order to also enhance the export orientation of enterprises.
5. Support and strengthening of digital innovation
The aim is to ensure the development of the start-up companies active in the domain of ICT while supporting the creation of new innovation ecosystems through the support of Digital Innovation Hubs.
6. Making productive use of public administration data
The aim is to make full use of public data through the creation of a single data governance model at national level with respect for the protection of personal data. The open availability and maximum use of public data contributing to the development of new products, business models and markets is a key factor to the digital transformation.
7. Incorporating digital technologies to all economic sectors
Adopting digital tools in various sectors such as telemedicine, distance learning, remote hearings at courts, teleworking in the public sector, network of sensors to collect data for the Environment etc.
The seven objectives of the Digital Transformation "bible" (© Ministry of Digital Governance)
The digital transformation of the country is a great challenge but also a complex and difficult task. The rapid technological changes combined with the low digital maturity of Greece demand urgent and immediate action on multiple axes through the implementation of a holistic digital approach. Within this direction the Digital Transformation Strategy, according to the “bible”, concerns the implementation of more than 400 projects in the following sectors: Economy, Development & Innovation, Foreign Policy, Education, Culture, Sports, Employment & Social Affairs, Health, Environment & Energy, Justice, Public Administration, Transformation of Cities and Communities, Transportation, Maritime Affairs & Insular Policy, Tourism, Migration & Asylum Policy.
The Digital Transformation “bible” here (in Greek)
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