The pandemic has greatly changed the way we live our lives and become a sort of a digital transformation catalyst, which is not a privilege of the large and the rich only, but also a great opportunity for small countries, because its application may accelerate the economic and social gap reduction.

This was communicated at the online panel discussion “Digitally Transformed Tomorrow”, which was organized within the “Top 100 in Montenegro 2020” project.

Mr. Ratko Nikolić, the founder of BI Consulting, a business intelligence provider, has said that current developments with the new corona virus pandemic have changed the standard execution of operations from its roots.

“The pandemic has also affected our own event, in two key ways: firstly, it has moved us to the online zone, so we are now accessible to a significantly larger number of followers. And secondly, it has confirmed exactly the importance and relevance of the topic chosen for our discussion today in the world, not only in Montenegro. The pandemic has literally “pushed” us into the digital transformation, and has thus eliminated the last dilemma, if any, of whether we are going to have a digitally transformed tomorrow,” Mr. Nikolić has said.

Mr. Milan Srzentić, state secretary at the Ministry of Economy, has said that the current crisis has proven to many that things can function faster and more efficiently, and at the same time be simpler and more comfortable “than what we are used to”.

“We must try to use this situation as an accelerator for the development of Montenegro’s digital ecosystem, which will make us more competitive and successful both as a community and as individuals,” Mr. Srzentić has said.

Ms Bojana Bajić, representative of the Ministry of Finance, has said that the COVID-19 pandemic, which does not know borders of countries worldwide, has additionally emphasized the needs of citizens and businesses in emergencies, pointed to the use of technology in public health and sped up the digital transformation process.

“This process is visible in the use of information and communication technologies in finance, health, education, trade and many other spheres of life and work these days, which is a result of the goals and efforts of the Government of Montenegro in the previous period to improve the availability of services,” Ms. Bajić has said.

She has said that the digital transformation coordination mechanism, which includes people, strategy, mutual cooperation, technology, with special reference to sustainability and financing of the activities covered by that process, will be, in her opinion, in the focus of the development of Montenegro, which strives for improved quality of life of its citizens.

Mr. Dušan Polović, director general of the Directorate for Electronic Government and Information Security at the Ministry of Public Administration, has said that the introduction of strong digital infrastructure and the achievement of high level of information security, “that the Government of Montenegro has been committed to through numerous activities, and the results of which we will be soon visible n Montenegro”, will contribute to the accelerated development of digitalization and digital transformation in Montenegro.

“Introduction of modern IT solutions for e-government, in terms of provision of electronic services to citizens and businesses, through national portals and systems for identification and administrative payment, exchange of information among authorities, in accordance with the laws on e-government and electronic identification document and electronic signature, will enable establishment of a modern, service-oriented public administration,” Mr. Polović has said.

Ms. Nada Rakočević, the secretary of the Board of the Association for Information and Communication Technologies of the Chamber of Economy of Montenegro, has stressed that the digitally transformed tomorrow is inevitably coming, and for it to be our better tomorrow, it is necessary, as she has explained, to take a synergic and strategic approach to the definition and implementation of activities that are ahead of us.

“Investment and reliance on the domestic IT sector capacities, digitally aware leaders and the society-wide IT literacy are the guarantees of successful digital transformation, which will contribute to the enhancement of the digital economy competitiveness and to Montenegro’s economic growth,” Ms. Rakočević has said.

She has added that the Chamber of Economy of Montenegro will continue, in cooperation with its members, to be a reliable and constructive partner to policy makers in enhancing the digital economy competitiveness and the economic growth of Montenegro.

Mr. Ivan Vučinić, CIO at Crnogorska Komercijalna Banka, has said the pandemic has greatly changed the way we live our lives and become a sort of catalyst for digital transformation, while on-line commerce services and many other electronic services, as he has explained, experience exponential growth in to the new situation.

“Banks have made it possible for citizens to pay donations, pay utilities, order groceries and school supplies from home, and thus meet their basic needs while still staying at home. Companies need to step out and provide their services in the digital world, and this is no longer a matter of choice,” Mr. Vučinić has said.

Mr. Saša Šćekić, head of the Projects and Digitization Department at Crnogorska Komercijalna Banka, has stated that digital banking has become a necessity, that the number of users of e-Banking services and electronic transactions is growing and that the primary communication takes place online.

“Banks have made it possible for customers to use digital services to pay their utility bills and manage their finances in a safe and comfortable way – along with a number of additional benefits during the pandemic. This will further accelerate innovation, migration of standard services to digital channels and transformation of bank branches into advisory functions,” Mr Šćekić has explained.

Mr. Predrag Perković, manager of the Commercial Sector at Crnogorski Telekom, has said that the situation with the coronavirus has shown that the ability of a company to maintain continuity in its business operations in extraordinary circumstances depends on the degree of its digital transformation.

“I am convinced that, in the future, we will not evaluate companies based on their growth rate as much as on their sustainability and business continuity. And connectivity is a prerequisite for this continuity and digitization, which is why our role as a telecommunications leader is of crucial, importance” Mr. Perković has said.

Mr. Vladan Tabaš, founder and CEO of Čikom, has said that digital transformation has been talked about more than practiced in reality for years.

“We have been creating digital infrastructure, but we have not used it to its full capacity. We have developed services that have been used only by those who have a clear vision of the digital future. Was it necessary for corona to happen to us to realize that Digital Montenegro is our best and fastest way to the future?” Tabaš has asked.

He believes that the digital present in which we live now must continue, that we must raise our digital skills to a more serious level and change our own awareness of the need for the digital transformation of the entire society.

“Digital transformation is not the privilege of the large and the rich only, but also a great opportunity for small countries. It cannot help us overcome the economic and social gap, but its application can accelerate the reduction of the gap. As one of the paths to digital transformation, the digital economy is also its outcome. And our chance. Unfortunately, it took a pandemic to help us realize that,” Mr. Tabaš has concluded.