A new – and 100% digital – edition of the annual Gala IT One took place on December 1st, 2020. Several experts shared their expertise and discussed the latest tech trends, during a top-notch conference sponsored by Accenture Luxembourg and moderated by Thomas Musolik (CTO, Accenture).

Carlo Thelen (CEO / Director General, Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce) officially opened this 2020 edition and stated: “We managed to transform an important event into a digital event, with a larger program, in the frame of the Digital ICT Week, to celebrate innovation and digitalization”. He then shared the key points that, according to him, have held us so far and will unlock future opportunities: Innovation, Change and Technology, or “ICT”. Carlo Thelen first focused on “innovation”: “the current crisis forced companies to reinvent themselves, innovate and create new business opportunities. It highlighted the efficiency of the open innovation model”. He then shared several examples, and notably “startups vs. Covid”, initiated by the ministry of the Economy. On the “change” part, he stated: “in this situation, change is the only thing that is constant. We had to find new ways to keep daily business alive. How we work and interact has changed, and so have clients’ needs. Companies that adapted to change with agility and resilience are now seeing the benefits of their approach”. Carlo Thelen then focused on technology and on Covid being the biggest accelerator in the implementation of new tech. He added: “the goal of digitalization is to simplify the lives of citizens and businesses. It will play a key role in the post-Covid recovery phase”. According to him, a business friendly environment is needed so that companies focus on key business with no bureaucratic burden: “the government of Luxembourg has accelerated the digitization of procedures. At the international level, digital transformation is also a priority for the EU. Many initiatives focus on the right approach to build a democratic digital future. They aim at fostering innovation and competitiveness”. The Chamber of Commerce has been collaborating with Farvest for years, through its B2fair matchmaking events, and will keep on supporting the Luxembourgish company, by reaffirming its support for the next edition of ICT Spring, which will take place next June 8th and 9th, 2021.

The moderator then welcomed Marc Hansen (Luxembourg Minister Delegate for Digitalization) who first highlighted that this new Digital ICT Week was the best way to ensure fruitful collaborations in the ICT domain. “Over the last months, citizens, companies and the public sector faced the challenges of adapting to this unprecedented situation. Digital was a key factor in keeping our country functioning. The public sector was able to leverage technology and therefore provided the services the citizens are accustomed to,” explained the Minister. He also described his ministry as a “ministerial startup”, which embraces the young companies’ openness and adaptability. He added: ”the creation of the Ministry of Digitalization proves our determination to achieve the digital transformation of the country. We are providing efficient and simple e-government services and are working with new technologies such as AI, blockchain, IoT, etc. Many projects have already been launched, with several proven use cases”. Marc Hansen then discussed the government’s latest project, Govtech Lab, which just launched. He added: “we need to accelerate tech adoption within the public sector to provide more innovation and user-friendly services. We are advocating the open innovation methodology. We are counting on innovative minds and startups to come up with user centric solutions. Govtech Lab actually completes the local tech ecosystem in Luxembourg: we are in this together. Its goal is to become the key platform for the exchange of digital needs and innovative technologies within the state”.

"Humans in the Cyber Threatscape" was the name of the conference given by André Meyer (Security & Cyber Defense Lead, Accenture). “2020 was the year of many ‘firsts’: companies and people had to face a pandemic, people had to work remotely, businesses had to face numerous phishing campaigns… In other words, infrastructure security needed to adapt,” started André Meyer. He then explained that according to a recent survey, cybersecurity incidents have been ranked the #1 risk to businesses across all industries for the first time ever in a global study done by one of Europe’s largest insurance companies. He then discussed data, “the new gold”, and the need to secure it. “An independent study of 5000 IT managers across 26 countries found the average cost of successful ransomware attack in 2020 to be 615.000€ in pure decryption cost, not including damages due to outages”, added the expert, before explaining that us, Humans, were the single point of failures. “We develop, implement, configure, monitor, etc... Tech is great, but at the same time do not neglect the human capital. It is estimated that upwards of 70% of all breaches are either caused or facilitated by employees”. The expert then shared “the 1 man social engineering attack example” and added: “if you have time you can breach anything. Make yourself an unattractive target so potential assailants look elsewhere. It helps you slide OFF the radar, nothing to do with getting information, rather avoiding people try to get information on you”. He then focused on the next threatscape and explained that it was even easier now: “you don’t even need to talk to people directly. You can just pretend to be a person, and share fake news. Credibility can rapidly rise and you can then manipulate people. On the internet, you can be whoever you want to be”. André Meyer ended his presentation by shared the four aspects that should be improved if we want to move forward: “first, communication (with diminishing physical contact, it is important now to establish proper communication channels to allow for human interaction), distributed assets (with the ever-increasing introduction of a mobile workforce, assets need to be made available wherever required while still being centrally managed), human capital (however great technology is, it is still developed, maintained and operated by humans. The human capital is the single most important asset there is) and finally, adaptive security (security is vast and offers a solution to every problem, but budgets are limited. An investment should be made based on a need, not on buzzwords)”.

Abdelhay Toudma (CIO, Arendt) then took the stage and focused on innovation in times of crisis. The CIO of the Year 2019 first thanked all the persons who participated in the fight against Covid-19, from cashiers to doctors. As the pandemic started one year ago in China, he reflected on the meaning of the Chinese word that translated into Covid: it is composed of two ideograms, meaning danger AND opportunity. Abdelhay Toudma also listed some of the past crises, from the plague to the 2008 financial crisis and stated: “it gave birth to several innovations”. According to him, cycles are similar. He shared what the Kontradiev waves are all about: rise of new tech, a peak in creativity, etc., and an inevitable crash. Now, we have entered the sixth wave, with notably IoT and Deeptech, as well as sustainability with a focus on the optimized use of resources. It also focuses on the empowerment of people… also known as digitalization. The expert then discussed the opposition between tradition and innovation and explained that, actually, good tradition always comes from great innovation, and great innovation will become a tradition. He commented: “in other words: to move ahead, we need to lose balance and therefore take risks”. Abdelhay Toudma also discussed the current Covid-19 crisis and explained that tech was de facto the lever to increase innovation. Companies actually accelerated their transformation to survive and cope with the market requirements. “Most of the time, the digital wave was already on the agenda, with many investments in terms of recruitment and infrastructure. Vision, leadership and pragmatism are key elements. When it comes to BCPs, Covid highlighted that they were not accurate with our new ways of living and working. 2020 was a special year: we had to show resilience while facing tomorrow, proximity in a global world, find a new work-life balance, etc. it forced us to adapt and we had to match technology with business needs and culture. We will emerge stronger than ever before,” explained the CIO. He concluded: “usually, a crisis is described as tough times, but there are other definitions. It is a time where important decisions must be made. It creates change and change means choices. We did not choose the crisis but we can choose what will happen next. We have the power to make decisions for growth and freedom”.

He also participated in a round-table, along with Jean Elia (CEO, Sogelife) and Fabrice Hansen (Vice President of Digital Transformation, Paul Wurth), which focused on the following topic: "Recover or Reinvent - How to create opportunities in times of crisis?" The discussion was moderated by Thomas Musiolik (CTO, Accenture). According to Jean Elia, the first challenge concerned security: “the security/safety of our staff and of our operations. When people work from home there is a risk, as they deal with data and information. Moreover, I’d like to stress the important number of decisions you need to make…as quickly as possible”. He also explained that Sogelife was already thinking about the future before the crisis hit: “it accelerated the path. It also showed us that it is much easier to make a decision under pressure, not thinking about the ‘what ifs’. We were able to launch projects which were planned for later in the year. It required a lot of commitment as well as efficient communication with the staff”. Abdelhay Toudma focused on the Human part and added: “luckily, we were engaged with mobility, with laptops, videoconferences, etc. But dealing with people and their own view – and fear – of Covid was the real challenge. The human aspect of the change is therefore the key element… and you have limited resources to address it!” He then insisted on the fact that in most companies, IT got closer to the business and became more visible during the pandemic: “IT is not just a cost center anymore, it kept the business alive. We are an important part of the chain, and not just a tool or a toolbox”. Finally, Fabrice Hansen focused on the loss of contact with colleagues and customers. “As Paul Wurth is an international company, most of our collaborators are abroad. We are used to traveling a lot and therefore had to find new ways of communicating with our customers. We needed to readapt projects and workloads,” he commented. The Paul Wurth infrastructure allowed remote working, yet, according to Fabrice Hansen, “it was a challenge to keep the focus on projects and targets. Homeworking reveals the profound nature of people and showed us that our collaborators were really committed”.


The event ended with the traditional yet digital Luxembourg ICT Awards ceremony. Discover who the winners are.


Alexandre Keilmann

Photos: Docler Holding

Publié le 02 décembre 2020