The development of a digital economy was one of the key topics at the Gaidar Forum. First Deputy Head of the Administration of the Russian Government Maxim Akimov moderated a panel discussion titled "Business and Government: Partnership Models in the Digital Age." Its participants talked about the ways in which the economy is being transformed by digital technologies, which long ago transcended being simply technologies, becoming instead an impetus for change in all aspects of public life: the economy system, state policy and social relations.
The topics for discussion included key technology trends and challenges, business-government partnership models and the creation of an ecosystem of globally competitive Russian companies in the age of digital economy.
"The government is the key holder of the infrastructure and I'm not just talking about the physical communications channels but about data definition, metadata," Mr. Akimov believes. "Everything that is happening in the modern world is changing who we are, changing business models, changing relations between business and the government and finally it's changing our identities by creating for us new digital profiles and completely revamping the way we communicate with each other.
"Speaking of the functions that the government must perform in this digital age, these have to do with the creation of institutions, and most importantly, education institutions. This is a top priority at a time when a key driver of economic growth and prosperity is people and their skills and knowledge," believes Herman Gref, Sberbank President and Chairman of the Executive Board. He said the US was the only digitally developed country in the world that did not have any regulatory constraints on digital policy. "The role of the government in the digitization of the economy and in guiding the country into the digital era is vital. The first thing the government must pay attention to is a well-thought-out agenda for turning the economy into digital," Mr. Gref said.
"When we're talking about innovations we must realize that the next generation of workplaces probably won't be created by today's major multinational corporations, they'll be created by new fast-growing agile companies," believes Guy Dietrich, Cisco Vice President for Global Innovations. "At this very moment 17 billion devices are in use around the world for communication and soon we're going to have 500 billion devices." Everything is changing: every smart phone, every person, every chair is going to be connected to something, he is convinced.
"We are moving away from the paradigm where business is always at loggerheads with the government and towards a completely new kind of relations where business and the government must cooperate to come up with optimal models for joint work," believes First Deputy Chairperson of the Bank of Russia Olga Skorobogatova. In her opinion, the role of the government is in helping banks secure their technologies and protect the rights of individuals. If we look at the financial sector, over 50% of the clients there never come to the office any more with all the services being provided remotely and that's a global estimate," she stressed.
In February the Government Commission on the Digital Economy is going to identify new trends for the Digital Economy Program. Earlier the government instructed the Ministry of Economic Development, the Ministry of Communications, the autonomous non-profit organization Digital Economy and the Analytical Center for the Government of the Russian Federation to draft proposals for new trends in the government program by February 15. "The agenda is quite big ranging from healthcare to logistics, from energy to smart cities. There are lots of all kinds of proposals including media, gaming, financial technologies and others. Naturally, everybody understands the program cannot scale up this fast, but by February 15 we should be ready to make a decision about the industry agenda," Mr. Akimov said, noting that a most challenging discussion is currently underway about professional standards, the pace at which they evolve and should be regulated and whether or not they should be included in today's qualifications regulations. "The best course of action is to talk these things over with trade unions, employers and the digital community rather than just inform everyone we have drafted the fifth program. This work should be completed by the end of January.