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Wednesday, December 9, 2020

The era of artificial intelligence is here and can change our lives the way smartphones did

20th WinDays in online format have just finished, which were followed by 742 participants via live stream. They brought more than 60 lectures, 2 keynotes and 8 panel discussions, which discussed security, collaboration tools, artificial intelligence and DevOps, but also topics that are important for entrepreneurs, such as providing a better environment for doing business in Croatia and investing in startups. WinDays21 will be held in the fall of 2021 in Rovinj.

In the Microsoft Keynote introduction, Anke den Ouden (Microsoft, General Manager for the Multi-country Region in Central and Eastern Europe) emphasized that during 2020, every aspect of our lives, including business, has changed. Croatian schools adapted very quickly to the transition to distance learning, and at the time of the lockdown, Croatia was in the top 20 countries in the world in terms of the number of users of the Teams platform. Tatjana Skoko (Microsoft Croatia) pointed out the advantages of cloud technology which, in addition to maintaining business continuity, also enables innovation. Cloud has accelerated all processes and helped companies and organizations build their digital resilience, more efficiently respond to challenges and disruptions, and has enabled us to follow the acceleration of transformation brought to us by the corona-crisis. Dimitrije Trbović (Neostar) presented the Neostar platform launched in November 2020 - it is an omni-channel and eco platform on Azure intended for all actors in the car market, and, in addition to buying and selling, also enables vehicle servicing and damage assessment in case accidents.

WinDays Keynote brought a duel between Rafal Lukawiecki (Project Boticelli) and Steven Van Belleghem (Nexxworks) who, along with moderator Dragan Petric (Bug), debated controversial technological topics, from artificial intelligence to social networks and digital freedoms in countries under strict surveillance. They agreed that the era of artificial intelligence has arrived, which, in addition to the many good things it will bring us, will also have some negative consequences. It will make us otiose because we won’t have to do a lot of the work we used to do anymore, nor worry about some worries because the machines will work for us. Artificial intelligence is at an early stage, but according to Van Belleghem, there are already many useful applications in the business environment, and the combination of AI and IOT can create many combinations that can dramatically change our lives the way smartphones did. Lukawiecki believes that today we have a lot of examples of "artificial stupidity", which he illustrated with the example of autonomous vehicles that make mistakes that people would not make. When it comes to the usefulness and meaning of social networks, they have diametrically opposed views: while Lukawiecki advises everyone not to use Facebook because he considers it unethical and non-transparent, Van Belleghem recommends that everyone continue to use Facebook and Instagram. Business are necessary because business systems must be where their customers are. He agreed that Facebook should work on transparency, and both praised LinkedIn's greater transparency towards users. They believe that robots will not overpower us or take our jobs and they believe that robots will, moreover, generate new jobs, and it is important for people to acquire new technical skills. In the world of artificial intelligence, human skills, such as creativity, empathy and passion, will also become increasingly important.

 Renato Fajdiga (Axilis) and Marin Deur (BE-terna) gave a lecture Enable employees to digitize processes using Power Platform, where they showed participants how to use Office 365 tools, Power Platform and Dynamics 365 Business to optimize the approval process, create and even and posting documents with one click. Antonia Šimunović (InSky Solutions) on the example of using chatbots in the tourism industry showed how to use artificial intelligence to turn data in Dynamics 365 into information.

During the Show me the money panel, moderator Dragan Petric talked with interlocutors Nikola Dujmović (Span), Luka Abrus (Five), Maja Brkljačić (AlgebraLab), Dražen Oreščanin (Business Intelligence) and Vedran Blagus (SVC Partners) about investing in startups in Croatia. They concluded that the startup scene in our country has been quite lively lately - there is an accumulation of money in the IT sector that is ready to invest in new projects, so cases like Nanobit and Infobip will happen more and more often. There is more and more investment in various incubators, and large companies themselves are launching their own incubators to create a pool of new talent.

Oliver Nikolić and Dušan Stamenković (Comtrade System Integration) spoke about the challenges of on-prem service migration to Azure, with special emphasis on security, availability, costs, management and monitoring. Miroslav Popović (Seavus) dealt with software solutions based on microservice architecture and the growing need for a centralized system for authentication and authorization. He presented the possibilities of developing his own solution and showed an example of implementation.

The panel Give us a bigger shovel dealt with the eternal topic: cooperation between entrepreneurs and the state, and the moderator Domagoj Novokmet (N1) spoke with Andrea Doko Jelušić (AmCham Croatia), Ratko Mutavdžić (Microsoft), Mislav Malenica (CroAI) and Zdenko Lucić (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European affairs). Doko Jelušić pointed out that she expects that in the next year or two the issue of double taxation, which is important for doing business with the USA, will be resolved, and that what is important for foreign investors who want to invest in Croatia is predictability. Entrepreneurs agree that the state is reactive and responsive to pressure and would like to see a step forward in terms of a more proactive approach to the state, to identify key niches and for the state to encourage entrepreneurs to focus on them (IT solutions in the health system are highlighted). Malenica warned that intensive communication is urgently needed so that Croatia does not miss AI as a technology that will "rule" for the next 30 years. Lucic stressed that the ministry is preparing a catalog of services to make it easier for entrepreneurs to communicate with the ministry in terms of stepping into foreign markets. All panelists agreed that there should be more common communication and cooperation and that it is necessary to realize that we all have a common goal - a successful economy.

The next meeting of the business and technology community is scheduled for the fall of 2021 in Rovinj at the WinDays21 live conference.

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