After two years of the pandemic, restrictions, many effects and trends arising from the "new normal", the local business environment received a new challenge: the conflict at the country's borders, with all its economic implications.
In this unexpected context, Forbes Romania invited some of the most important managers and entrepreneurs to answer a short questionnaire in a complicated moment from an economic and social point of view. Because, in the end, despite the difficulties, the business and life lessons remain.
What is the word that best characterizes the year 2022? Argue.
Exploration. 2022 was the year of chain crises, conflicts and unpredictability, opportunities and new leaps made in science and technology globally. We chose to explore new directions of development and look for ways to bring more value to customers using technology.
What were your concerns about the business you are running in 2022? What are the results of the company's/group's activity compared to year-to-date estimates?
There was enough cause for concern for all of us at the beginning of 2022, closely related to the invasion of Ukraine. When a war starts near the border you try to anticipate possible scenarios, their impact and actions that should be taken, but the uncertainty was at an all time high. I don't think anyone could say exactly what would happen next. We were prepared for anything and focused on remaining a reliable partner for our customers. Although we had challenges, our divisions performed beyond expectations, our turnover increased by 26% to 12 million Euros, and this was due to the ability of each of our colleagues to adapt to the market situation. We continued to invest in digital transformation capabilities and in hyper automation, and consolidated established business lines, namely printing, applications, infrastructure and IT integration services.
How has the war in Ukraine affected the work of your company?
This was the moment when it became clear to us that we were in a vortex of continuous crises – the effects of covid, logistical, financial crises and a newly started war that dramatized the full impact. Crises bring difficulties and a high level of uncertainty, but at the same time, they generate opportunities, they can trigger paradigm changes and new trends, with a significant impact on markets and society. I think it is healthy for any organization to allocate time and resources to new lines of business, even if they are exploratory at the beginning. In the future they can represent an important growth vector. We continued to develop in directions such as digitization services, hyper automation and augmented reality, and to test new solutions, such as those related to blockchain or metaverse for example, which, although in different phases, have the potential to revolutionize entire sectors of activity or even the whole world. We are open, continue to identify new areas of technology and explore various ways Aliant can contribute.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of the business environment in Romania?
Romania remains an important hub of IT resources, well trained, autonomous and creative in solving complex problems. But although we have our own domestic unicorns, we are still far below the innovation potential - our country is ranked 49th in the Global Innovation Index for 2022. With a well-defined, predictable framework and a climate conducive to the development of start-ups, taking into account technical skills and local brain power should not be difficult for us to climb 10 positions in the global innovation ranking.
What do you think are the measures that the Romanian government should take in order for the business environment in Romania to pass this winter without major setbacks? (bankruptcies, insolvencies, blockages)?
There are valuable companies, especially in the SME sector, that will encounter difficulties and need help. These are the companies that in the future, as they develop, can contribute, through jobs and taxes, significantly more than the aid given by the state in a time of balance. There is certainly a need for a program to identify such situations and protect the economy, maintain a business environment ready for the coming period, when we may see an economic revival and a new period of growth.
What do you think will be the biggest challenges globally, but for your industry/field in the year 2023?
2023 is the year in which we will likely witness accelerated changes, especially thanks to Artificial Intelligence. Companies like OpenAI demonstrated through ChatGPT that general artificial intelligence can be used on a large scale, by anyone, and has real-world applications, sparking huge interest. Given that an AI like ChatGPT is already capable of writing code on demand, in addition to many other capabilities including creativity, the long-term implications are likely to be profound and transformative. We will see in the coming years an increase in the need for skills such as analysis, critical thinking, innovation or, why not, the ability to write optimized requirements for AI assistants specialized in programming. But 2023 will likely bring more clarity about the impact of artificial intelligence and possible future scenarios, in parallel with an intensification of efforts to understand how we can now apply the benefits of such technology in business.