Within a very short period of time, the coronavirus has opened new roads to digitalisation for companies.
The lockdown practically forced companies to reorient their activities from one day to the next. Now the important part is to draw the right conclusions. The Federation of Industrialists Fedil has recently published a note containing some of its recommendations to politicians. And they can actually all be summed up in one word: investments.
More precisely, Fedil asks for investments in digitalisation, networks, research and industry. The federation points out that those companies who had already invested into digitalisation before the pandemic are now those in a better position. The more support digitalisation receives, the more the whole industry will benefit.
Videocalls, webinars, and remote consulting aside, Fedil also stresses the importance of planning and putting into action a company's IT strategy. Companies who continue to invest in research and innovation should receive further support from the state.
One aspect the coronavirus crisis has especially made clear is how important it is for a company to have the technological capacity to switch to remote work on a massive scale. In this context, Fedil cites examples of employers quickly having to buy laptops for entire departments. The federation stresses that the right conclusions now had to be drawn from remote work, both in regard to labour laws and taxation. There is, for instance, a need to find agreements with neighbouring countries to make sure that cross-border workers will not be at a disadvantage in terms of taxes.
Companies were also more vulnerable to cyberattacks during the pandemic. This in turn means that in the context of remote work, it has been all the more important to raise awareness of these dangers among companies and their employees, and to optimize IT security. According to Fedil, internet security is now more important than ever, and investment and promotional efforts have to be increased.
The federation welcomes the quality of the infrastructure as well as Luxembourg's good network connections. Investments must be upheld and the 5G network – for which the first frequencies have only recently been auctioned off – must be set up as quickly as possible, especially since the coronavirus has already delayed its installation.
Fedil also argues that because of the increased data volume generated by remote work, distant learning, and increased streaming during the lockdown, projects like the planned Google data centre in Bissen should be prioritised. Investments of this kind also had a positive impact on the development of Luxembourg's ITC sector and elsewhere.
The coronavirus has highlighted the importance of easy remote access to public services online. The federation recommends that additional efforts need to be made when it comes to eGovernment and the digitalisation of state services. Fedil also emphasized that it would be useful to increase IT cooperation between the National Health Authority and the different public research institutions.