Embracing AI Transformation: Insights from Kalin Dimtchev, Country Manager for Microsoft Adriatics

Embracing AI Transformation: Insights from Kalin Dimtchev, Country Manager for Microsoft Adriatics

In a recent interview with Forbes Serbia, Kalin Dimtchev, Country Manager for Microsoft Adriatic, urges businesses to promptly embrace AI transformation. He emphasizes that AI isn’t just a passing trend but a technology that profoundly alters our lives and streamlines complex business processes. From addressing major challenges like climate change and healthcare to improving daily tasks such as email writing and presentations, AI’s impact is extensive. The discussion also covers Microsoft’s investment in AI, anticipated economic benefits by 2030, and AI’s transformative role across various sectors. Additionally, it highlights the value of Microsoft’s AI assistant, Copilot, in enhancing productivity, nurturing creativity, and saving time.

Why does Microsoft bet on AI as a technology that will change the way we work and live? 

What we need to understand is that AI goes beyond mere buzzwords – it’s a transformative force shaping our lives. Its impact extends beyond technology or very basic daily tasks we have been hearing about so far like email writing or helping us prepare a presentation. AI addresses critical challenges — from various business complexities to some of the greatest challenges we face like climate change, natural disasters, or health related issues. If we only look at the financial dimension, the recent release of the PWC findings revealed that almost half of the economic benefits expected by 2030 will result from improving products and encouraging consumer interest. AI could contribute up to 11,5% of the GDP of South Europe, including the Adriatic region, by 2030, which is equivalent to an additional $0.7 trillion. It could have a significant impact on various sectors such as healthcare, automotive, financial services, retail, and manufacturing.  AI also creates new employment opportunities, as some jobs will be augmented or created by AI, while others will be automated.  

Last year we heard a lot about Copilot. What is its real value?  

Even the name Copilot indicates our overall AI approach. We are introducing a copilot for everything we do, from a simple Bing search to modern work to cybersecurity. Speaking of the latter, imagine that for the first time we can have all the benefits of Generative AI and apply them to cybersecurity defense, making it possible even for those with less training and experience to deliver significant cyberdefence.  

The Copilot is designed to be our everyday AI companion helping us in researching, learning, writing, designing, coding! It can support us through automating mundane tasks, reducing busy work, providing valuable insights, enhancing productivity, collaboration, and user experiences.  

Our key objective is in tune with our overall vision to empower every person and every organization to achieve more. Unlocking creativity, uplevelling skills and reducing time-consuming tasks. An actual copilot, a daily companion or assistant who can do some of the heavy weightlifting allowing us to focus where it matters. And this for me is the greatest value of this journey, enabling people to focus on where they can make a difference! 

Can you explain how Copilot can change our daily work routine? 

We are introducing a Copilot for everything we do as I mentioned earlier. It can support us through automating everyday tasks, as it can access data from e-mails, meetings, chats, documents, and the web, and generate natural language prompts, such as ‘Inform my team about the updated product strategy,‘ as it can also create status updates. It improves collaboration between employees working on research projects. 

It is integrated into apps we all use daily, such as Microsoft Teams where it summarizes meetings, it also facilitates creative tasks in Word, does data analysis in Excel, presentation design in PowerPoint, Outlook inbox management, and more. In one sentence, Copilot can perform repetitive, time-consuming tasks and free up your time for tasks that require your experience, specific knowledge, or creativity. Think about what that means for medical staff for a second. A US doctor currently spends up to 20 hours a week on admin tasks. Imagine that time going back into the patient instead of reporting! 

Do you have any insights on how users accept Copilot? 

As we are moving from the year of the announcements to the year of becoming reality, we already have some great signals! 70% increase in productivity among Copilot users and becoming up to four times faster in catching up with missed meetings, just to mention a couple.  

Copilot is making people more productive and creative, while saving time. They were completing tasks such as searching, writing, and summarizing nearly 30% faster, and I would also highlight that almost 80% of Copilot users said that they want to continue using it.  

But it’s also important to note that the implementation of any new technology, including AI like Copilot, comes with its own set of challenges, and we are aware of that. Some users may require time to adapt to the new system and learn how to make the most of it, therefore, we at Microsoft are committed to providing the necessary support and resources to help users in this transition. 

You work with public and private sector companies. Do these companies embrace AI? 

Yes, we are already seeing a lot of promising steps both in the Adriatic region but also in neighboring countries across Southeast Europe. Interestingly, governments in this part of the world were, actually, among the first to adopt AI technology.  

Embracing AI Transformation: Insights from Kalin Dimtchev, Country Manager for Microsoft Adriatics

The Government of Greece, for example, has implemented Generative AI in collaboration with Microsoft as part of its strategic plan to make the public sector more accessible, effective, sustainable and people centered. The Ministry of Digital Governance (MoDG) launched the nation’s first public-facing chatbot, a daily companion for the people of Greece, which had an incredible 26,000 interactions within the first 24 hours since launch. This chatbot runs on government websites and provides accurate and up-to-date information on a wide range of services, policies, and procedures, without making users navigate across websites or contact multiple offices -just imagine the ease, speed, and quality of service for all citizens along with the time secured for civil servants towards more complex-solving issues. 

The public sector of Albania has introduced a Virtual Assistant – an AI-powered solution designed to streamline citizen interactions with public institutions and simplify residents’ lives. Operating on the Azure OpenAI Service, the system fulfills the government’s needs for robust security and governance, and is engineered to be adaptable for future growth. The Government is currently making plans for its 2.0 version, which will offer voice and image capabilities, further improving the digital governance experience.  

The Serbian Chamber of Commerce recently introduced BizChat – a digital service based on artificial intelligence that enables entrepreneurs and companies to quickly and easily obtain business-relevant information in real-time, 24/7, ranging from chamber services, market analysis, business conditions and investment, to labor market potential and the education system. BizChat is one of the first chatbots in Europe aimed at the business community, established by a business association. It is a fully automated informational service, based on the Microsoft Azure AI platform, designed to provide key information to the economy, using advanced AI techniques for process optimization and improving business decisions. 

When it comes to private sector, one of the great examples I would like to highlight is a successful collaboration we had with IKEA Bulgaria, which resulted in the launch of Sofia, an AI chatbot assistant powered by Microsoft’s OpenAI GPT-4 technology. It was designed to enhance customer experience and provide a variety of services. Sofia assists customers throughout their journey, from product search to handling inquiries about online orders, store hours, warranties, and more. We expect this project to expand to Greece as well.  

In Croatia, there is another great example of how AI can enhance customer service and provide fast, accessible, and personalized support. Infobip, a global cloud communications platform has, for the first time, integrated GenAI solutions through Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI technology into its customer offer. Laqo insurance used Azure OpenAI Service through Infobip’s cloud communication platform to develop a digital assistant named Pavle, and it has become Croatia’s first fully digital insurance provider. 

To conclude, both public and private sector companies are increasingly embracing AI due to its transformative potential. It is understandable, as Generative AI has emerged as a necessity for governments, it has motivated leaders from all kinds of institutions and organizations to enhance their systems, procedures, and even their cultures. In 2023, they acknowledged the capacity of technology to address some of the most significant societal issues, and 2024 is the year that they are putting it to work. It’s important to focus on where it matters! 

Will AI replace humans? What future do you see for AI? 

AI is set to augment our capabilities, not replacing them. The question is how human intelligence can work with artificial intelligence to produce augmented intelligence. Innovation driven by AI will soon spread across all industries. AI will indeed reshape certain jobs, but it will also create new opportunities. Adaptation is key for survival and success.  

Rather than fearing replacement, we should focus on how AI can empower us to achieve more. It’s crucial to shift our mindset towards continuous skill acquisition as only through ongoing learning, acquiring new skills, and training can we effectively navigate the swift digital transformations that are already underway.  

The future involves responsible innovation and collaboration and to that end we remain committed to research and development, working with the wider ecosystem on responsible deployment of new technologies, supporting students, startups, and developers in creating groundbreaking solutions, collaborating with partners and customers to tackle critical challenges spanning business of any size and maturity across industries.  

What would you recommend to businesses now? 

Dive into it! Nowadays, waiting means staying behind. Digital transformation, or AI transformation as we move forward, is an ongoing journey that requires us to adapt, learn and evolve in a dynamic environment. It is vital to be at the forefront of emerging technologies, especially AI, and to explore how they can improve our business processes, customer experience and innovation, aligned with our business objectives. 

So, rather than aiming for a perfect AI strategy from the start, we should embrace experimentation as a key learning tool. Technology allows us to test and refine our ideas quickly based on feedback and results. By experimenting, and sometimes failing, we accelerate our learning curve. What matters most is that we can adjust our strategy based on real-world implementation. A growth mindset is essential in this process, as we need to be curious, flexible, risk-taking, and focused on progress rather than perfection. AI is a reality, and we cannot afford to wait for a flawless strategy, as this would hinder our competitiveness. In the digital era, time is critical. I encourage us all to avoid lengthy planning and start taking action, even if it is not perfect.  

Source: Kalin Dimtchev, Microsoft: Krenite odmah u AI transformaciju – Forbes Srbija (n1info.rs)

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