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‘Reconfiguring Cyprus business models to be more relevant to the future’ — PwC CEO

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For PwC CEO Evgenios Evgeniou, Cyprus, coming out of the pandemic, has a critical need to make its business culture more creative and adaptive – in some senses, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is just starting up.

“The pandemic has accelerated certain trends and made them imminent as to how they are going to affect us going forward. The crisis has accelerated many of the pre-existing trends which in my view, means that the day after, when the pandemic will be behind us, we will have to face a new reality.

“The pandemic has accelerated certain trends and made them imminent as to how they are going to affect us going forward. The crisis has accelerated many of the pre-existing trends which in my view, means that the day after, when the pandemic will be behind us, we will have to face a new reality.

“For this, we need cultural change. There is a high level of business acumen in Cyprus, but we need to become much more creative and innovative, both as a country and as a business community.

Perhaps people think that Amazon and Netflix, for example are not relevant to Cyprus as business models, yet one can see how disruptive those companies are to businesses here because they are disrupting industries in a horizontal way that is unprecedented.

I think we should all become much more creative and willing to challenge more. We should try to reimagine our businesses, reevaluate and rethink our value chain and our supply chains to understand better what our customers need. We need to try to reconfigure our business models to be more relevant for the future. In that context, obviously, technology or technology alongside data has a big role to play.

But the challenge to do that, in my view, is not actually the technology, the challenge is cultural. I think that business leaders in Cyprus are willing to change and they are actively looking for solutions that will help their companies to adjust to the new era. However we need to work more on developing a culture that is more accepting, one that fosters change, is more eager to proactively change, is ready to innovate, is ready to create things, and experiment. And because that’s the only way to actually be able to reshape business models, and reconnect with customers in a way that will be relevant going forward.

Fourth Industrial Revolution just starting up

Influence to change should come from global trends, but sometimes in Cyprus they take longer to have an effect, Evgenios points out.

“I would say that there is a tendency, sometimes to think that certain trends will not affect us, that being an island, we somehow will not be affected by trends that are happening everywhere else. However, we’re always affected. And we’re part of the global village and therefore, if anything, we should take advantage of  looking at what’s happening elsewhere and be proactive and be ready for the future.

But instead, we have a tendency to delay our response. And therefore, I would say that issues that are being discussed in other countries, and they are hot topics from a business and an industry perspective, my experience is that it takes a few years for them to actually become hot issues here. There is a certain time lag. And this applies to technology as well.”

Business feels the lack of face-to-face connections

Perhaps part of this delay comes from the fact that people are not connecting, following global trends.

Cyprus being a small island, and we have a small but active business community. One that is very interconnected actually, and sometimes even competitors have good personal relationships, and they share experiences and  stories. And that’s useful. That’s good.

I sense, from my experience working abroad, that this is happening elsewhere, as well, but in smaller settings. So for example, if you go to a big place like London, you will not see that apart from specific industries or specific market segments, rather than, for the whole economy, obviously, because of scale and size.

But my experience is that, in Cyprus, business people and CEOs give a lot of value to actually meeting their counterparts, sharing experiences and stories. In addition, we have suffered for the last year, from the inability to meet physically and interact socially. Because it’s usually over coffee or dinner or lunch that this kind of connectivity happens, not in the formal circumstances of a conference.

Digital transformation lags due to a kind of failure to adapt

The lack of connecting up may also lead to a lack of awareness of what technology alongside data can do.

“I mean, obviously, as Cyprus, we lag behind in terms of our digital transformation as a country, and that is indicated by various sorts of indices compared with our EU counterparts. And part of that lagging behind is a lack of understanding of the level of awareness of what technology can do today, particularly, when you put together data analytics and AI tools.

The availability of big data is also a big, obvious challenge as part of the effort to digitally transform the economy, and to upskill. And to educate every one of those possibilities; simply because  by experiencing what’s happening globally, by using the various technology platforms, I think we should all become more aware of these possibilities.

There is a lack of awareness in Cyprus of how to translate that and make it relevant to your business. How do you actually rethink your own business model and you re-imagine your own business to make it adapt to this new world. And I think that’s where the major challenge is.

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