Microsoft’s investment – reactions
When Microsoft announced early in May that it would invest USD 1 billion in a digital transformation plan for Poland, it sent ripples around the country and the global business community took note. We asked leading observers for their thoughts about what it means for Poland.
“Microsoft has been a proven, tested and trustworthy partner in Poland for more than 30 years and their continued commitment will ensure growth in Poland’s digital marketplace. Microsoft’s Cloud Data Center partnership will accelerate Poland’s transformation into a technological hub for the region, the Polish Digital Valley. This private-public partnership with Poland’s National Cloud Operator will solidify Poland’s position as a global digital player.”
Ambassador Georgette Mosbacher, US Ambassador to Poland
“This is an announcement worthy of the potential of Microsoft in Poland. We are delighted to hear this news, especially at this time of lockdown and looming economic recession. It underscores the value that large international investors can bring to a country like Poland: namely, stability of employment, supply, and indeed, increased investment at a time when it is needed so much. Moreover, the quality of this project in terms of talent development and local opportunities is enormous.”
Dorota Dąbrowska-Winterscheid, Managing Director, American Chamber of Commerce in Poland
“Microsoft’s move has significant importance for Poland. While growth in cloud spending in most European countries has been quite impressive, the gap in cloud adoption between Europe and the US – so far an unquestionable leader – has actually widened in recent years. According to global consultancy Bain & Company, it was just 3% in 2014 and has gone up to 6% in 2020. However, according to last year’s survey by Gartner, the international research and advisory firm, Poland has become one of the countries recording the highest increases in cloud spending in Europe and is poised to become one of the so-called ‘tracking countries’. There still remain many barriers to wider acceptance of public cloud in Poland, including those related to cybersecurity, data privacy and the cost of transitioning to cloud. It was to address these challenges that OChK (Operator Chmury Krajowej (National Cloud Operator)) was set up in the first place, and today with strategic partnership agreements signed with Google and Microsoft, OChK seems well-positioned to fulfil its role. It remains to be seen whether AWS (Amazon Web Services), which is by far the strongest global player in public cloud, will also join this partnership.“
Paweł Bochniarz, Chairman of MIT Enterprise Forum CEE and CEO of Valuetech Seed
“Poland has been lagging behind other EU countries in terms of the use of cloud technologies. In countries like Finland, Sweden and Denmark approximately 60% of companies use cloud solutions. The average for the EU is over 25%. In Poland, however, this figure is approximately 15% – only Bulgaria and Romania have lower results (of course COVID has very recently increased general cloud adoption but we expect that the relative figures remain the same). Our research shows that one of the key obstacles in using cloud solutions in Poland is the regulatory environment and security policies required in particular market sectors such as banking, insurance, telco and pharma. These obstacles, combined with a general lack of qualified resources, cost concerns and resistance to change, have prevented the majority of Polish companies from using cloud and leveraging its undisputed value.
The National Cloud Operator (OChK – Operator Chmury Krajowej) is trying to address these issues, providing cloud solutions from data centres located in Poland and making sure the services are compliant with Polish regulations and security needs. Microsoft will be the second provider, after Google, available on the OChK.
Microsoft’s declared scale of investment (1 billion USD) is impressive and should result in high availability and efficiency of available solutions, also considering the expected 15% annual growth of the cloud market. It is important to mention that Microsoft has also committed to training approximately 150,000 IT specialists, which should also help address the second most significant obstacle on the market – a lack of qualified resources. It is also important to mention that many of Microsoft’s solutions are commonly used in Poland e.g. MS 0ffice package (365), reporting solutions (Power BI), CRM solutions (MS Dynamics) or communications package (Skype, MS Teams), and their availability in OChK will enable Polish firms to use them more effectively, assessing them when needed and making sure they are always available even in situations of performance peaks. The breadth of available solutions in the cloud will enable firms to develop innovative services and process & analyse big volumes of data effectively, use AI and implement technology to drive efficiency in their sales and operations processes.
Due to its ownership structure (PKO BP and PFR) OChK will most probably be widely used by the Polish national enterprises and Polish Administration, which should accelerate their digital transformation. Microsoft solutions on OChK should help keep Polish firms competitive in these difficult times.
This recently-signed cooperation between Microsoft and the National Cloud Operator is definitely a step in the right direction and is a significant milestone in Poland’s journey to effective adoption of cloud computing.”
Marek Młyniec, Partner, PwC, and Paweł Matulewicz, Director, PwC
“Microsoft’s decision is another boost to the accelerating digital transformation of our businesses. Regulated markets like banking, healthcare or the public sector, which have been slower in adopting cloud technologies, are especially likely to move to the cloud more eagerly. This, together with investments in education, will hopefully result in an even better environment for building new digital ventures in Poland.”
Tomasz Rudolf, CEO, The Heart, Warsaw
“Microsoft’s investment will encourage other global companies to come to Poland. It has focused the attention of other global players on the Polish market, where opportunities are still emerging. Prominent Arabic media in the Gulf countries covered the story widely, which indicates increasing interest in Poland. More international communication about other available opportunities in Poland will be key to attracting investments similar to Microsoft’s.”
Haian Nayouf, former head of UK government Arabic Media Hub in MENA, and currently strategic communications advisor in UAE and Poland. Haian is based in Lublin.