(Photo: Jornal de Negócios)

Nova SBE and COTEC Portugal have joined forces with BPI, the newspaper Negócios and Claranet to launch the largest national initiative to recognize and reward innovation in Portugal. The National Innovation Prize 2023 will recognize projects that contribute to the digital transformation of companies in the country, in June, but it has already been the motto for a first talk on "The impact of technological progress on the growth of organizations", on March 1st.

The conversation focused on one of the competition's themes - technology - which is divided into thematic subgroups on which participants can develop projects and submit their applications: Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning, Workplace Transformation, Cloud, Cybersecurity, Sustainable Technology, and Web 3.0.


Web 3.0

Afonso Eça, Executive Director of BPI's new Center of Excellence for Innovation and New Businesses and a member of the jury for the National Innovation Prize, took the stage to explain why banks want to be at the forefront when it comes to Web 3.0 innovation.

"What do we want to capture with this segment? When we talk about Web 3.0 we also extend the concept to metaverse and to a set of phenomena: everything we see happening in augmented, immersive, virtual realities." "Then there is the gaming industry. We all want to 'gamify' our experiences to make them more compelling, because it really is a giant billion or trillion dollar industry. There are a lot of interesting initiatives that can arise in that kind of space and we also have brands participating," he began by explaining.

"Why is a bank interested in these kinds of topics? There is an infrastructure issue here that is very interesting, which has to do with everything related to Blockchain technology, with this trend that we see in some spaces of decentralized finance, and so we have taken several steps here in introducing a new type of financial technology, which allows us to have a much greater degree of decentralization and to manage financial assets in a different way. Understanding how people choose to store their property has immense impact. For the financial sector this can have a huge impact, because in a world where virtual property really becomes a reality we can have an explosion in the number of assets that each of us has. And here comes the question: where are we going to store all this? There is an idea that is instilled in us from a young age, which is: 'valuable things are to be put in the bank'. As a financial institution, I would like to preserve that idea.



Without the Cloud, companies like Netflix, ebay, Zoom or Instagram "probably wouldn't exist". Who guarantees it is Vasco Afonso, CEO of Claranet Portugal. These are just four examples among millions of organizations that have created their businesses based on the Cloud.

"The Cloud has revolutionized the way companies do business. First, because today we are two clicks away from being able to test new concepts and launch new services to the ever-changing market. The Cloud brings us more agility. It has also allowed us to accelerate remote work.

This technology has made it easier to store and analyze large amounts of data and, in real time, to understand what our customers' consumption patterns and market trends are and to be more agile in what are the companies' day-to-day decisions.

"In addition, there is the cost issue: companies no longer have to make very significant investments in infrastructure and hardware, when they can simply buy the compute or storage capacity they need at any given time. And finally, the big facility is: we are able to scale our operations depending on whether there is greater demand or a slowdown in the market."


Transformation of the Workplace

The pandemic has forever transformed the way we work. "Before it was unthinkable to work remotely," said Nuno Pedras, Galp's Global Chief Information & Digital Officer, in his speech, guaranteeing that the most important thing to ensure that these new processes are correctly implemented in companies is "collaboration".

"Collaboration tools today are Office 365, Power Platforms, and a lot of other things, but I think more and more we have to think about collaboration tools that are going to optimize people's work to levels beyond the chat or One Note or Teams. More and more we have to think about how we can take the step to be able to foresee or anticipate the needs and implement things even before people ask."


Sustainable Technologies

Carlos Leite, CEO of HP Portugal, recalled that it is essential to invest in sustainable technology, because "the issue of sustainability is very relevant for all of us, not only because it contributes to the benefit of the universe, but what it represents for business. There is a study that was published in the World Economic Forum in 2021, done by Accenture, which indicated that companies that invest in sustainability are two and a half times more likely to succeed than those who do not.

"Sustainability is a business catalyst," he added, stressing that companies that invest in sustainability are actually recognized and there are many people who choose to buy "from a company that cares about sustainability than one that doesn't."

Technology is essential for this kind of advancement, because it can help make business more sustainable, reducing CO2 emissions, avoiding the use of paper, but also, with the use of the Cloud, for example, "knowing in real time if we need to scale up or scale down."



António Gameiro Marques, Director of the National Security Office, focused on the importance of cybersecurity, in a world where virtual threats have become a daily event for companies, because "doing business with cybersecurity best practices is a promoter of trust".

"What have we learned from last year's cyberattacks? The entities that were attacked and that were prepared recovered more easily and didn't lose information," he declared, assuring that the key to implementing measures that ensure cybersecurity is knowledge: "We are absolutely convinced that if we don't train people we won't get there".

In addition to the need to educate everyone on a team, you need to create a collaborative environment between companies, sharing practices and information.


Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning

"There is an imperative need for innovation. Only if we innovate will we survive," warned Paulo Dimas, Unbabel's Vice President of Innovation and Product.

However, it is well known that there is a great deal of mortality for start-ups "because the pace of technology adoption is increasingly dizzying" and exponential technologies need to be used well for new businesses to succeed. With technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning "we have to think about how we get to use them and what comes next."

In addition, "there is a need for responsible AI, both at the level of accuracy, but also at the level of bias.


Want to learn more about the presentations and the initiative? Watch the video below:

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Prémio Nacional de Inovação 2023
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