AmCham, HIPA Team Up For Digital ‘MythBusting’ Conference

  • May 07, 2018
  • Nathan Johnson, Budapest Business Journal
On May 3, AmCham and HIPA organized the very first Digitalization Conference to discuss digital trends, the most pressing challenges, potential competitive edges and how all of these impact the business community in Hungary. Read our report below!

AmCham Hungary first vice president Péter Csucska opened a conference on digitalization in Budapest on May 3 by asking everyone in the audience to think about their first kiss.

“At the time, you don't know how to do it,” Csucska said, “but it’s something that everyone is talking about. I think this is similar to what we face in terms of innovation and new technologies. In all the excitement and confusion, how can we tell a buzzword from the real thing, or a snake-oil salesman from a genuine merchant?”


In an effort to generate more excitement and clear up some of the confusion surrounding new technologies, AmCham Hungary and the Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency partnered to organize “Digital Mythbusting: Buzzwords and the Reality”, a half-day event that took place at Boscolo Budapest, drawing around 150 participants. Sponsoring the event were digital technology company ABB, law firm CMS Hungary, Continental Automotive, DXC Technology and consultancy firm KPMG.

The other principle aim of the conference was to help clarify Hungary’s position in the context of the “digital transformation” and to help lay the groundwork for strategies that could help to shift the Hungarian economy to a new dimension. HIPA, for its part, aims to pay company’s attention to the new incentive scheme supporting R&D projects and the so-called technology intensive investments, which focuses on innovation, R&D activities and the level of technology, as HIPA Vice President Tünde Kis explained in her opening remarks.


The conference featured three keynote speakers and a five-person panel discussion, after which participants could attend one of five 90-minute breakout sessions, which were held simultaneously.

The ‘Day After Tomorrow’

The morning’s first keynote speaker was Bernd Gill, head of digital service innovation at DXC Technology, Central North Europe. Addressing the question “How do you get your business ready for the day after tomorrow?”, Gill stressed the importance for companies is understanding how a new product will work on the market prior to its full development and introduction. He also urged startups not to be afraid of failure, “so long as you learn from your failures and make the changes necessary to overcome them”.


In what was to be something of a mantra repeated throughout the day, Gill’s simple strategic advice for new tech companies is to “think big, start small and move fast.”

Up next was Zoya Alexeeva, solutions portfolio manager at Digital ABB. Arguing that innovation is simply part of being human, Alexeeva detailed several of the projected benefits of technological innovation and advance. Citing modularity, robotization and AI, and digital retro-fitting among key innovation trends for the future, she claimed that digital operations will not only boost productivity worldwide (by up to 200%), but also use up to 30% less energy.


“Even the shift to renewable sources of energy will require a great deal more data in order to use them most efficiently,” Alexeeva added.

The concluding keynote speaker was Jens Brüning, head of the Deep Machine Learning Competence Center at Continental Automotive, who stressed the urgent need to develop autonomous driving technology to radically decrease the number of road crash fatalities worldwide, which currently stands at 1.3 million people each year — or, 3,287 per day.

“Sensing is essential for automated driving technology,” Brüning explained. “And we hope to be able to introduce ‘Stage-5’ — that is, full automation — by 2025. But safety absolutely comes first. Every pilot technology we develop is put through a minimum of two million kilometers of road testing prior to its introduction on the market.”



Hungary’s Role In The ‘Digital Revolution’

In order to discuss a variety of perspectives on Hungary’s current and future position as a technology innovator, discussion moderator Péter Sere from KPMG welcomed four panelists to the stage: Zoltán Czibók (DXC Technology), Róbert Keszte (Continental Automotive), Dóra Petrányi (CMS) and Mihály Szabó (ABB).

With interactive input from audience members it was quickly established that technology means different things to different people, and that a precise definition of “digitalization” is quite difficult to pin down. The discussion and audience feedback also revealed multiple outlooks on Hungary’s current position in the technological playing field and its possible roles in the future.


Asked to assess the current state of “tech readiness” in their workplace on a scale of one-to-ten, audience member responses came to an average of 5.3.

“This is a classic example of people believing that the glass is either half-full or half-empty,” Petrányi commented. “But I would also stress that there is no industry that hasn’t already started down the road to digitalization.”

Asked to conclude by identifying the most important needs for Hungarian companies, the panelists suggested, among others: understanding problems and identifying solutions, assessing the best ways to handle new ideas, and — no less importantly — listening to the next generation.