The Slovenia Times

"Wirtschaftstag 2019 is for sure the event of the industry in Slovenia, as it will deal with on-the-go trends in the industry and the main challenges ahead"



2018 was somehow the weakest year for the German economy since 2013. What are your thoughts and how do you see 2019?

From the broader perspective, I would say that the global environment - not only economic but also political - has been challenging in the recent years. This has produced trade tensions, turmoil in emerging markets and, ultimately, also the economic slowdown in China. From the EU perspective, we have been confronting the uncertainty over Brexit, and regarding the up-coming EU elections, for the first time in 40 years, EU-skeptic parties are getting quite a lot of attention within the politics at the European Union level. All this has contributed to the weakening. From the German perspective, interestingly enough, the Federal Labor Agency has reported that the average number of job seekers in Germany was lower in 2018 than at any time since reunification in 1991. According to the country's Federal Statistics Office (Destatis), the economic performance in the fourth quarter of 2018 was achieved by 45.2 million persons in employment, which was an increase of 507,000, or 1.1%, on a year earlier. Over 2019, however, the economy is expected to grow, but at a slower pace.

Generally speaking, Germany has been Slovenia's biggest trade partner. In April, AHK Slowenien will organise its traditional conference, the so-called Deutsch-Slowenischer Wirtschaftstag 2019 (The German-Slovene Economy Day). What will you highlight?

The topic of the 2019 conference will be "Artificial intelligence (AI) - an inspiration for the digital future", with a strong emphasis on the German-Slovenian economic and wider relations. The conference is organized in cooperation with the AI Laboratory at the Jo┼żef Stefan Institute. The German government has recently approved a strategy on AI by which it will invest EUR 3 billion in research and development in AI by 2025, EUR 500,000 of which in 2019. As the Slovenian industry is closely connected with Germany, it is important to adapt the trends that will affect the industry in the nearest future. The conference will host renowned guests from German companies, who will discuss the impact of AI on business processes and productivity in enterprises, and present the insights on R&D and good practice in the field of AI in Germany. Today's pace of change is fast and to cite Darwin, "It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change." Thus, the Deutsch-Slowenischer Wirtschaftstag 2019 is for sure the event of the industry in Slovenia, as it will deal with on-the-go trends in the industry and the main challenges ahead.

How near of far are the companies in Slovenia in the field of artificial intelligence?

Every year, AHK Slowenien sets the annual theme. For 2019 we have chosen "Industry 4.0 - Artificial Intelligence", within which we will organize events and activities of various formats. In January, we published the results of the "Industry 4.0 survey", conducted by the Chamber at the end of 2018, which offered an insight into the current state of digitisation and the industry 4.0 in companies in Slovenia. The results show a good basic understanding of the concept of industry 4.0 in companies in Slovenia and its importance for the future development of the industry. Moreover, the respondents confirm with great satisfaction that they are creating new business models with industry 4.0. The challenge arises in the field of awareness of the need to measure the implementation of the industry 4.0 strategy in companies in Slovenia. The survey shows that the reasons are mainly due to the lack of knowledge, competences and qualifications, and a little less due to the lack of financial resources. With high probability, the current state of awareness may mean that problems will arise in monitoring the effects of implementing the strategy in companies in Slovenia. In this context, it is necessary to point out that for good strategic decisions, a key overview and anticipation of the expected effects and consequences of decisions in advance - therefore, the measurement of the implementation of the strategy - should be done on the corporate side on a regular basis and on the basis of monitoring real data.


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