IGF 2021 - Day 2 - WS #121 Platform economy: (post-pandemic) chances for SMEs

The following are the outputs of the captioning taken during an IGF virtual intervention. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.



>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: We are starting in one minute.

>> We all live in a digital world.  We all need it to be open and safe.  We all want to trust.

>> And to be trusted.

>> We all despise control.

>> And desire freedom.

>> We are all united.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Well, we are all united.  That's true.  We are united here today.  And I want to welcome you to our session on platform economy post pandemic chances for SMEs.

My name is Friederike Grothe.  I am partner at Grothe media consult in Germany and have the honor to moderate our discussion today.  A warm welcome to all of you in Katowice at the remote hubs connected, and to everyone following us online from so many places around the world.

Thank you for joining us for this workshop.  And thank you for joining from different time zones.  Even those in which it is already really late in the evening.  So, thanks for being here.

Platforms, as we all know and feel and can experience every day are of increasing importance for micro, small and medium sized enterprises, as they start the process of digital transformation or even expand their services online.  Platforms have also been very helpful for maintaining business during lockdown.  However, it is not always easy for us take advantage of these platform economies of opportunities.

Today we want to explore the framework conditions that will support us in these, fruitful -- and their fruitful participation of the platform business.  And to learn from each other as practices and believe me there are many to share, already learned a little bit about it.

I'm very glad to have the most knowledgeable experts for this discussion.  The experienced entrepreneurs and actively supporting the emergence of a prospering digital business ecosystem.

I would like to introduce Alex Ntale, executive of the Rwanda ICT chamber, bridging the gap between private and public players in the incumbent technology and new programs and technology startups for innovators, the IT industry of Rwanda.  Welcome, Alex.

We have.

>> ALEX NTALE: Thank you very much.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: We have as guest Ana Paul Bialer, the founding part of BFA, Bialer Falsetti Associates in Brazil, who provide legal, regulatory and public policy services to different companies.  Currently Ana is head of the working group on internet regulation of Brasscom.  This is a Brazilian association of information and communication technology and digital companies.  Ana has been actively involved in the crafting of the regulatory environment of telecommunications in Brazil in various capacities and I'm sure we will hear about this later.  Welcome, Ana.

Shivendra Singh is Vice President of NASSCOM in the National Association of Software and Services Companies.  As head of the Global Trade Development Department at NASSCOM, Shivendra Singh is responsible for cross border technology policy engagement, enhancing market actors and actually easing the way business can be done cross border.  And Shivendra is working on building a global alignment on digital economies to he's traveling a lot.  Welcome, Shivendra Singh.

Manan Voskanian is founder and CEO of STYLIQUE platform.  Helps her economies create unique interiors by providing a better creation and shopping experience.  The platform connects the main (?) these are manufacturers, vendors, architects, craftsmen and customers.  That sounds also like a multisided platforms when only a two-sided platform and we will learn about this later too.  With a degree in architecture, Manan Voskanian has worked in the digital economy from the start of our business career.

And Atsushi Yamanaka as a professor at the (?) Institute of computing, graduate's school, also currently serving as chief advisor of the Rwanda ecosystem.  Foster an conducive system in Rwanda and has been supported by the government of Japan through the Japan International Cooperation Agency.  Welcome, Atsushi.


>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Before we start, let me make a few remarks on how, to the audience, to all of you, how you can actively participate in the discussion.  If you are connected via Zoom, you can write in the chat, as usual or raise your hand to take the floor.  If you want to make -- to take the floor, please make sure to raise your hand via Zoom, no matter if you are on site in Katowice in conference room 4 or if you are online somewhere else.

In the conference room, though, there are also, of course, technicians who help you and microphones on the floor and you can go there and mic yourself.

If you are following us via YouTube, Slido would be your option.  Our online Moderator, Catalina will share his slide for Slido.  Okay.  And we have this picture a little bit while I speak.  So, everybody who is interested can take a picture of the QR code or connect otherwise.  Slido has a few questions already and you can post your observations.  We will screen share every now and then what has been posted so far, along our discussion.  The poll will be open until tomorrow evening and this way you have a chance to -- if you have extra time to add your comments, if you wish to.

Katharina will also manage the Zoom chats, and she also has an eye on Slido.  Now, the audience, we are looking forward to your contributions.

Okay.  And we are off for the discussions.  We want to talk first about how the platform economy is able to promote as a needs and how the needs can tackle the challenges.  So Alex, I would like to know from you in your opinion, what is the greatest potential of the platform economy for SMEs?

>> ALEX NTALE: Thank you very much, Dr. Friederike.  The greatest potential we have seen in the environment is clustered in and around three elements or three aspects.  One is increased access to markets.  Two, increased access to financial services.  And increased access to skills or development in skills or capacity building.  And for the platform economy, what we have seen in the recent past even catalyzed by COVID-19, is that it grows with the internet or the internet gives it quite a stupendous growth rate.  And that is really what is feeding in.

But going back to access to markets, what we have seen with platform economy is that it is leveling the playing field and enabling removing barriers that previously, whether it's geographical barriers or time and so on, or even resourcing technologywise, that when needed for SMEs to participate in the global economy or even in the local economy, and that is where we are seeing a lot of opportunity.

World Bank Group IGF estimated that by 2025, the internet economy in African Sub Saharan Africa will be valued at over $180 billion by 2025.  Now it highlights a few subcategories or sebsectors that will drive this growth.  Think tech, e-commerce, the gig economy, which also falls into that space.  But when you lump all these up and look deeper, what is really at the foundational leader is technologies such as cloud services or SaaS.  That removes investment requirements that previously would have been a hindrance to SMEs with really very little resources to participate.  And that's here for us at home what we have been seeing, the case, actually, is recent in Kenya, indicated that 90% of surveyed businesses use Impresa for payments, for accepting payments. 

In Rwanda just last year at the height of the pandemic, we saw an increase of digital payments of over 400%.  And that -- what does that speak to?  Immediately we saw financial service providers beginning to use that kind of data to innovate and to provide new solutions to SMEs, whether it is credit facilities, as well as insurance products.  So, on a whole, I can say this is increasing, whether it is customer engagement or supplier engagement, SMEs are being supported.

So the second part which is access to financial services where we see the greatest opportunities and potential is that Africa has been -- or have SMEs on the continent and mostly in developing countries, have highly challenge of accessing financial services simply because the data about their creditworthiness was missing and new what these platforms are doing, generating, facilitating or develop generation process and with that, providing new mechanisms or new tools for product developers that are developing, whether it's lending instruments or other instruments.  And that is also the other factor now.

I won't go into YouTube in this capacity and other platforms like Coursera and (?) and WhatsApp which is increasingly becoming the go-to place for people to learn quick trades, for people who want to improve their capabilities and SMEs on how to use different technologies to grow their businesses.  So, that's where we are seeing the opportunity is immense and we are seeing that it is growing at home and within the region.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Wow, that was a very lively picture of really a vibrant industry or a vibrant economy, really.  And I saw several nods from our other discussants, and I think when talking about the possibilities of mobile payment, we'd like to start with this a little bit and the technical infrastructure needed to do this.  Ana, I apologize, I saw you nod at this point, at this part particularly, I hope I got it right.  Would you like to further move on in that aspect before we address others?

>> ANA PAULA BIALER: I was nodding because in certain way I would say the financial system is a very broad intimidating in Brazil and this absolutely has had a huge impact in the ability, especially, I guess, during the pandemic of (?) make the shift, to actually broadening the offer of services that they were doing.  And being able to implement mobile payment solutions that make just with the number of your phone, you can actually make money transfer, and that just facilitates what would otherwise be a barrier to interest in terms of complexity of how you operation financial systems and with that, really small, simple entrepreneurs can just launch a platform or launch their services in an e-commerce platform and be able to complete the cycle to a certain extent.

And I hear and, I guess, I second all the issues that Alex --

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: I'm sorry.  The last words were not audible.

>> ANA PAULA BIALER: I second all the issues that Alex raised and, indeed, in the mobile payment perspective being able to implement a solution that facilitates is absolutely essential for the inclusion of SMEs in the digital platform ecosystems.  And we have seen the growth of mobile payments in Brazil and that is a driver for especially the small enterprises to, actually, succeed.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: It really lowers the threshold for market access at this point.

But us when you talk about mobile payments, there's one big issue -- I won't say in a nutshell because it's really a big issue.  But it's the question of trust.  You need trust that you really have the correct partner on the other side of the transaction.  And (?) you worked on this with cybersecurity and it was down to small issues, trust and offering hands-on support.  Would you like to comment on that?

>> SHIVENDRA SINGH: Thank you so much.  I think the first and foremost person, the first thing is digital economy is where we are going to see all the growth, you know, which is happening.  So I call it digital transformation 2.0 because this is digital at scale.  So, whether it's AI, you know, cloud, you know, machine learning, cybersecurity, all of these 5G robotics, all of this is driving, you know, huge, huge growth.  In fact, so much so that traditional technologies are coming down from 70% to 30% and did not transformation 2.0 will go from 60 to 70%.  And this has been driven by a number of factors as we know in the (?) we have seen the pandemic.  The tech sector has become even more important.

So when we come to trust for all of this to thrive, it's cloud services and I heard Alex talk about clouded option, whether it's software as a service, (?) as a service, structure as a service.  This is growing by leaps and bounds between (?) to (?) we did a recent survey in India.  One of the biggest concerns CEOs have pointed out is on data privacy.  And this is something which UN is very important around the world, we are seeing a lot of traction and we don't have a body like a WTO.  We are trying to see there is a sense to judgment and go ahead with GDPR and then UK India is coming out of its own personal data protection (?)

I think one of the things that we all need to build is an alignment on cross data (?) because this is like a horizontal cutting across AI, cybersecurity, cloud, 5G, 6G.  And, you know, for all of this to grow, you know, data privacy and security are going to be very, very key.  How do we build an alignment globally to ensure cross border (?) rolls.  And I think an interoperability around some of these areas.  So I think that's something that we as NASSCOM have been working very closely, especially because we have a number of FDAs, future trade agreements working with the UK and EU.  We are trying to see if associations in this case nuclear associations and NASSCOM have put together a joint paper which finalizing in order to present to our respective governments while the personal data production comes in and while there is a lot of overhead from UBPR.  How do we work on building that and I think that's going to be very critical for all the great growth that we are talking about which needs to happen.  This could potentially be a bottleneck.  And we all need to work together.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Thank you so much.  How can we find the criteria necessary really for the alignment, as you called it?  Ana would like to comment on that.

>> SHIVENDRA SINGH: You know.  Sorry, did you ask me or someone else?

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: I asked the panel and, of course, the audience, too, if they want to share.  Maybe Ana first and then you again, Shivendra.

>> ANA PAULA BIALER: Thank you.  I would say the issue of cross border data flow is instrumental to allowing for those new digital economy to actually flourish and the challenge here is beyond -- it's the international, interoperability of framework to allow for international data flow.  And Brazil for reference has implemented a similar model to GDPR.  And also the equating the challenges that come from law enforcement and data localization initiatives.  So it's equating the free flow of information and data sovereignty provisions for that.

And I guess the challenge here is where do you find a place in locals for this discussion to take place globally Friederike in a way that it can then be implemented locally because it will need to interact with all local -- to ensure we can take a step forward into ensuring that the global reach goes through speed, so to speak.  Especially for (?).  But I would say that is cross border throughout all players in the digital economy.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Brief question to Ana again.  Follow-up question.  You said we need a place to do that.  Would you see such a place?  Did you know one?  Is there one?

>> ANA PAULA BIALER: I have a really hard time finding what the correct or the ideal place would be.  I guess we are -- and this is an interesting aspect, because in the end, the dichotomy challenges concepts that we have in business models and all the traditional ways to offer services and products.  And I guess it also challenges the way that we look at regulation and legislation and how the interplay of those will work.

I'm president sure that at this point we have the (?) and maybe this is an excellent question for IGF to explore as it has numbers implications.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Thank you.  Shivendra briefly and tie in the other speakers too.

>> SHIVENDRA SINGH: UBPR is probably the first in the race to be able to define the rules on that.  And everyone is working around what they think are the good parts of UBPR and what they think would be challenging from our perspective, we feel that the first data proposals absolutely essential for the digital economy.  You need to look at the certification schemes.  While data adequacy is the ultimate objective but in the time data agreements are signed, you need to look at the contractual clauses, certification schemes.  I know for a fact that the certification schemes are not very easy for all the SMEs.  So, how can we make the certification schemes a bit more easier, you know, for the SMEs to, kind of, work on and follow.

Because SMEs, obviously, don't lead on all of these developments.  But this is a bottleneck for them as they move forward.


>> SHIVENDRA SINGH: Organizations permitted to identify their own transfer tools is one aspect.  And then when we look at data classification and, you know, what is the way that you can classify data in order to again streamline flows.

And last but not the least the individual ability to access and seek legal redress, I think needs to be clarified and an idea needs to be built on that.

These are a few points.  And I think as associations are here in this panel as well, if we are able to jointly make a recommendation towards this.  And you know, I am very happy to put up our hands to do that with everyone.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Okay.  So, joining in associations we have three here, ICT, (?) also and ICT chamber has already worked together with a German ICT association called (?) and maybe Alex want to briefly say -- tell us how you worked on standards together with bit me.

>> ALEX NTALE: Thank you.  I think the point of standardizing and really having a single source of truth or at least having one place where people are able to recognize -- yeah, who is important.  What we have been working on is still work in progress.  Seeks to provide a framework nationally for players to be able to be identified with different level of schools in terms of -- we called it Rwanda tech seal with the purpose of really giving a buyer or a partner or an investor some level of confidence along different parameters.  One of them have been data privacy.  But also compliance on some of the regulatory frameworks that are available.

And then, of course, depending on who is looking, sometimes the compliances for e-commerce companies.  Sometimes it's compliance for think tank regulations or cybersecurity elements are the privacy that I am talking about.

Work -- we are still working on that.  We currently building out automating that process.  We last I think leading up to 2020 we managed to certify four companies that was just in the pilot phase.

Going on now with the automation process we believe we will be able to reach out for more.  Earlier this year we had ran a self-assessment process with over 40 companies.  And that these really helping us to fine-tune as an organization that works with innovators, we ourselves trying to see how we can innovate to give our confidence and build trust in the consumers of our services.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Thank you.  I will return to the trust issue from a practical side, but also I would like to ask Atsushi first, because you have worked in Japan and in Africa and also in other nations, other continents.  Where do you see the place where this kind of alignment that we were just talking about, where could this happen?  So, if we have the industry statements, joint statements, this is something virtual.  Where would they meet to except for IGF, obviously, but where would they meet to come up with ideas and solutions?

>> ATSUSHI YAMANAKA: Thank you, yes, that's true, actually.  At least for example cybersecurity and data privacy, that's a very, very big issues in many countries.  And like in countries in Africa they are passing (?) laws saying that all personal identifiable information of every citizen have to remain in the country.  So, of course, that's what actually really hinders cross border transactions.  It's going to be a big deal.

Now there's going to be a fine (?) I think.  Of course the state, the government want to keep the information, their citizens' information safeguarded and they also not be exploited, of course.  But there's also the growing needs because transactions is actually growing nowadays.

One of the things, of course, I mean, it has been mentioned so far in quite many panelists here, GDPR has been, basically, many of the standards where a lot of the countries actually adopting from the GDPR perspective and creating their own cybersecurity and data protection regime.

And also around that, there's actually regional conventions, for example one of the conventions in Africa and the parliament, correct me, it was a bit of a (?) I think for the European regarding the data protections and cyber securities.

So, there's actual regional organizations which is, actually, you know, conventionalwise they are trying to promote standardizations or harmonizations between the different data protection service security risks.  And that is also -- sorry, do you want to say something, Friederike?

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Go on.  I have a follow-up question.  Yes.  But please.

>> ATSUSHI YAMANAKA: Basically on that front I think it is quite interesting or quite important, actually, actions within the regional organizations to, basically, provide the framework and then they could, sort of, negotiate getting the regional organizations to make sure we have a global, you know, standard or framework or policies to do so.

Now, that harmonization process.  But there is another side of coin to it.  It's always good to have the harmonized policies.  But the challenge really is how to implement them, right?  The compliance is a big thing.  For example, a lot of African countries and a lot of developing countries, underdeveloped countries, they are instituting the digital national IT on a common national IT system.  Enforcement of that or implementation of that is really -- it's a problem.

For example, Kenya, they have -- they have a new, sort of, IDs where they could actually do the government transactions.  But they just, actually, created -- they, actually, started with the (?) first, but they created data commissioner just like, you know, (?) years ago.  So the compliance or the enforcement or the implementation of this standard or the framework, that is going to be the very issue, especially into the developing countries and especially with SMEs as (?) mentioned about that as well.  That is going to be the key.  How can you encourage both the government, as well as, like, private sectors to, actually, have, you know, the comply with this and also implement this framework?  I think that is really the key for moving forward.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Okay.  Thank you.  I heard that it is good, we have some starters or frontrunners in various areas and then others can follow.

But international data flow, reliability, trust worthiness, I want to bring in Manan Voskanian with her experience.  How does this translate to your experience?  You are working hands on really on developing a platform.  You started out with an e-commerce, with an online shop, basically, but now you're starting the B2B platform.  And the GDPR is a law that manages privacy issues and not business data flow, not really.  I mean, it's important.  It's very important to create trust.  But business data is maybe something else.  And your companies, the companies you work with your clients have business data maybe they want to share or don't want to share.

>> MANAN VOSKANIAN: Yes, thank you.  And mostly we don't have that much trouble with business data, actually, to be honest.  We have issues with the GDPR because we are, of course, using software from the U.S.  I mean, everyone is using AWS, everyone is using Microsoft, et cetera.  And it's not clear if you are actually supposed to use those tools in Germany if you are creating a platform.  Because you never know what happens to the personal data.  So this is an issue we have to think about because there are no compared the companies in Germany that you can use to build a platform like that.

And regarding business data, all of them are quite free, actually, because you can always just find data online as well.  They are very interested in gathering customer information, ordering what product, how many items are they ordering, what kind of person is ordering what kind of product.  I think this is one of the most valuable information you can gather online.  It's very valuable to our companies as well and we will still have to find a way to be able to deliver trust without mismanaging the trust.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Disclosing customer data.


>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: And I was also thinking about the prices, like price transparency would also give maybe, you said you are very special branch of industry, fragmented, and so everybody would be, I guess, very, very interested in the prices that your clients, like manufacturers on the one side and maybe architects or builders on the other side, are paying for special project or a service.  How do you manage this kind of business data?

>> MANAN VOSKANIAN: This has to stay secret.  We are only to show the recommended reselling prices and, of course, vendors can show the prices they want to set for their products.  But we will never be able to actually show the prices that have been paid.  Because if an architect is buying huge amounts for a big project, the prices are always been talked about separately.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Uh-huh.  Okay.

>> MANAN VOSKANIAN: What we have also seen some vendors who -- some manufacturers who said we can't disclose our vendors because we are afraid that competitors could address the same vendors.  I mean, this is really weird in 2021, right?  Because --


>> MANAN VOSKANIAN: Everything is digitalized so these are some weird issues we are actually dealing with.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Okay but not on a large scale, as I take it?

>> MANAN VOSKANIAN: We are on a daily basis.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Well, that could be a larger scale.  Shivendra, is there still something -- is your comment, does it matter where we are now in the discussion?

>> SHIVENDRA SINGH: I wanted to take the discussion with Atsushi mentioned in terms of compliance and digital national ID.  I think at the India level one of the big success stories have been the digital platforms that India has a number of years back we went what we called the Avatar, which is the unique digital identity that we have of more than a billion people, 1.2 billion people, you know, which has not been easy.

And then UPI which is our financial initial payment transaction.  In fact, UPI currently has more number of transactions than Visa and MasterCard taken together.  And COVID, which is our app on, you know, COVID vaccinations.  Again, a billion plus.

So, I think linking it to compliance and (?) connectivity is a great example that the role India has been able to do to an open public digital platform and from a compliance perspective, I think, you know, that has been something which has been a big, you know, success story.

So I wanted to, kind of, highlight that point.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Okay.  Thank you.  Ana.

>> ANA PAULA BIALER: I wanted to get Shivendra's point on compliance and go back to your question around trust.  I think we have a tendency to look at SMEs and trying to do exercise to lower the threshold so the costs are lower and that allows them to have more of a competitive advantage.  And we need to be careful from a policy perspective on that front in the sense that if threshold is lower in terms of data protection or cybersecurity measures, you actually are lowering the compliance and taking them away from the value chain.

So I think we need to change the perspective on how we help.  It's not by lowering, but, actually, by giving them easier access, education, capacitation to be able to achieve those thresholds which will be absolutely central for consumer trust and for them to actually prosper.  And I'm glad I see several colleagues nodding to that.  I think that's an essential point in the conversation.  We tend to look from the traditional economy and we really need to find ways to help them level the threshold in terms of transparency, data protection, cybersecurity, consumer support and so on.  Thanks.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Thank you.  Is there anyone in the audience who wants to comment on this, share your opinion or maybe even take a -- ask a question or so.  Please make use of the chat.  Use Slido if you want, or raise your hand, too.  You are very welcome to do this.

I would like to move on to another issue that has been very, very vital in shaping the platform economy and the digital economy in general, which is, actually, the scarcity of skilled labor.  This has been a problem everywhere.  And I would like to start with Manan maybe to explain how she, basically, now is a platform startup, it's a big move.  What are your experiences about labor, skilled labor?

>> MANAN VOSKANIAN: It's always been very difficult to find good people.  For us, it has gotten worse, actually, in the last few months.  We hear from investors that they even have trouble finding experienced labor, especially technicians for their own companies.  And now we as a startup have to find them and be able to pay them with the money we have, which is, actually, not so much.  So, this is a big problem for us.

In our case, we have founded a company in Armenia where the labor prices were supposed to be very much lower than here.  But it turns out that in the U.S. has very much interest in developing software in Armenia so the prices are getting up.

So, I think it's getting very hard and even harder to find good people to do what we need to do.  And I don't think we are even ready to educate students in a way that we need to for the future.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: What do you mean by that?

>> MANAN VOSKANIAN: If you look at what people are still studying, I don't think there's enough developers out there, actually --


>> MANAN VOSKANIAN: Not for now and not for the future, definitely.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Okay.  So, I keep this in mind when we come to a final issue, the regulatory framework, we want to address this to and add on that, build on that so we have to keep that in mind.

Alex, I would like to know from you, you are just doing a large-scale project, which is about onboarding I workers as you called them and also small and micro sized and medium business to the platform economy.

How are you handling the issue?  What is your perspective on the scarcity of skilled labor?

>> ALEX NTALE: Thank you, again.  The scarcity of skilled labor is there is a fact now.  We see it as Manan was explaining that our demand today is -- for developers is high with hard experiences from U.S. clients to some of our member companies, asking them for hundreds of developers and stating they don't care where they come from.  We have others asking for thousands.  And that really speaks to the fact that utilization of the global economy is happening and it's everywhere and that's putting a strain.

So, what we are trying to do within the project and just within the chamber is to try to use the resources and the nation hubs that we have to upscale the talent that we have in partnership with different partners, government, as well as development partners, we have the project that Atsushi, Professor Atsushi is leading is facilitating on that where we are training developers on a cohort basis, but also running even for other training, even in other skills for the industry, our revolution skills like 3D computated, design manufacturing, 3D printing, also automation.  From that point of view and others, actually, other artificial intelligence.  So the demand is immense. 

But beyond having the demand and saying, oh, we know that demand is up there, we are also creating channels to aggregate -- aggregation platforms, to help identify talent.  At the same time to aggregate employers and to know who is looking for what.  Because you cannot be training for individual employers on an ad hoc basis.  But you could identify streams of a particular skill sets or technology stocks if it is Java programming, for example, or IM machine lining as a stream, then you have a way of grouping, of creating this kind of groupings and you prepare talent for these -- for the employers.

So, it's an ongoing process, actually, just grow the list from our partner, government partner of over 2600 graduates that are seeking jobs.  That there's a difference between having a degree, having a paper and also being skilled, having hands-on skills.  And we are looking through that to see that's all different groups of engineering skills that are needed.

Last week we had a meeting with manufacturers and they are looking for talent from processors to (?), so on.  So the demand is there.  Lucky for us, we have a young population and we want to position ourselves or position the continent to take advantage of this revolution, this digital revolution happening.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: One takeaway would be maybe matching platforms could be, like you are doing now, could be a -- one -- obviously, several solutions to this problem.

Ana, I know you have been working at grass com, too, also on the issue of scarcity of skilled labor, if I recollect this credible.  And what are your experiences?  How are you trying to tackle this problem?

>> ANA PAULA BIALER: Brasscom has done a number of studies to understand the gap between the ICT sector needs in terms of as far as demands and what's actually available in the market.  And the gap is actually growing.  The number is near 100,000 people without -- or 100,000 jobs that lack the people with the capacitation to actually fulfill them.  We currently have some initiatives in terms of trying to -- you need to start early, so trying to include in the educational process in school coding and (?) capabilities to actually be able throughout time to bridge that gap.  But that has been a challenge and it really -- there is a big effort in terms of including that not only with technical capability forces now but looking at how you bring them from the start to be able to fill that gap.  And as you look at, for instance, issues like artificial intelligence that we currently have a national strategy plan and it's in the works of, actually, being more relevant in terms of local development.  We do lack the people skills to be able to develop that and work locally.  But the numbers really (?)

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Good.  Thank you.  I would like to ask Katharina if we have some Slido contributions to share.  And maybe.


>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Good.  Can you show them, please?

>> KATHARINA MOSENE: I will show them to you in a second.  So, there we go.  So, we ask our participants, our attendees in which area do they see the greatest potential of the platform economy for SMEs.  And what we found is market access, actually.  There's one tag which was scaling.  And then the other four or five tags is actually one sentence, which is launching new cloud platforms on new markets.  So, the system just broke the sentence apart.  I think this is quite interesting.

And then we also had a look at the pandemic pushing the digital transformation of SMEs and their observations, which are also, I think, very, very interesting.  For example, the fact that there is no doubt, of course, that the pandemic has pushed the digital transformation for SMEs.  The service sector mainly benefited, in my opinion.  And one person says that she or he agrees with this post.  And another person says, I would agree that SMEs did accelerate the DT.  I am not sure however if this was mainly digitizing processes or rethinking the business model on a more profound manner.  So, also very interesting.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Yeah.  I think I would like to make a break here and save the third question for a later point because we have a third question.  Because I would like to move on to this question, what really happened and what can we learn from what happened for the promotion of SMEs in digital business.  How the pandemic affected SMEs.  I'm really curious to know that from you, Atsushi.

>> ATSUSHI YAMANAKA: Can I, actually, make a small, sort of, comment on Ana's point about --

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Yes, please.

>> ATSUSHI YAMANAKA: The need of human resource development.  That is profound, actually, (?).  JICA, Japan International Corporation, has been working very, very in many countries especially on the science and technology capacities.  And then it will be a long process.  In many countries they be working more than 10 years, more than (?) and still there's a lot of actual challenges to be met.  It is important, of course, that we, actually, have the skills for quarters, developers.  That's a very important part.  But we need to think bigger scale in terms of creating the capacity of the people who actually have the logical social thinking as well as science technology knowledge and so on, mathematical skills.  Without these foundational skills, we will not be able to create the developers who are capable of, actually, meeting the demand globally.

Another part which is important, too, is also the language, actually.  For example, countries like in Japan, they won't actually have some of you can understand who speak their own language which is a bit unfortunate.  But I think this is also very important part.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Of course, of course.

>> ATSUSHI YAMANAKA: Even though they have the actual coding skills and not -- not only the coding skills but different skills, the language, actually, remains pretty important even though we have the translation and tool and so forth.  So, that's also something that we need to be mindful and how we can fill the gap.


>> ATSUSHI YAMANAKA: For example, JICA working in -- to cater to specific market.  That is something that's also, for example, government could really think about, not only the technology skills but also the linguistical and also the business skill as well.  That's actually a --

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Language is a governance issue or tool maybe even, language learning.  I see we have to postpone the pandemic with that.


>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: That's fine.  Manan is on your trip.  You want to say more about education?

>> MANAN VOSKANIAN: Yes.  One of the most important things because we don't only need developers.  This is one of the biggest needs we have that we also need this people between development and the business side who can translate the business requirements into smart technology or technology features that are, actually, usable, which is a big problem because developers are always looking straight ahead and they have some trouble figuring out how to implement things that are, actually, needed from the business perspective.

And then there's also the aspect that the things you need off-line might not be the same things you need online because the people tend to react differently when they are online.  So, how do you find the right solution to translate what you do off-line into an online world and maybe even connect the two things.  I think this is something which is really new and maybe you have to start educating yourself within the company.  Because there might not be the right person who has the understanding of your specific industry and also of the right technology to use.  So the person in between mate be from one of those areas and then you have to educate them in the second one.  I think this --

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: This is a different level and speaking the same language.  So you might have the same other tongue but you don't speak the same language in terms of the project, of the development and maybe even of the goals you want to have.

>> MANAN VOSKANIAN: Yes, yes.  And of course a business person doesn't speak the language of a development person.  This is just impossible.  You need a project manager in between to translate your needs into a doable solution.

One more thing about language.  We recognize that we are currently developing in Armenia, which is a completely different country with completely different structures.  They, actually, have trouble understanding how Germany works, how German people think, how they use technology, how they move on a platform.  So, for us, it's also a big issue to translate the German way of thinking or the German way of doing business.  So, even though you can use -- or you can work with people from other countries, there are still some issues you need to find a way to work around to --

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Talk about earlier, we had the data flow, which is a good thing and, kind of, a framework for reliable data flow.  But then we have also got quite a different framework for understanding.

Okay.  Anybody wants to comment on this question of this way of working together?  Because, of course, there's other implications too for cross border work, but I would like to put this later.  Shivendra, please.

>> SHIVENDRA SINGH: Yeah, I think we have walked the talk at NASSCOM.  We are the official partners to the government of India on upscaling.  The prime minister launched it, what we call future skills and future skills prime program.  We have a platform provider.  We have developed our own platform so (?) is a platform provider.  And then we have resourced the best content in eight or nine technology areas including AI, robotics, machine learning, cybersecurity, 3D printing, IOT, block share, et cetera, et cetera.

And then we have looked at 70 odd job roles and developed competency standards for the job rules.  And because of the fact that, you know, you have academia, you have industry, but it's led by business.  So, around the world as digital transformation takes place, the biggest challenge is evolving for academia to evolve at a place which the industry needs.  And I think to some extent we have been able to bridge that gap.  We have, kind of, had about a million people on this platform and the prime minister has given us a mandate upscale nearly 4.5 billion people in the next five years which is what the industry numbers are in terms of employability.  And I think trans-- if you look at competency standards, you know, how do we look at building a global alignment on those competency standards in some of the job roles could be an interesting one for all of us to discuss.  Because if there's anything which keeps CEOs awake at night, it's the issue of talent.  You know, you can talk all about the fancy digital transformation work which happening, but from -- but there can be a huge (?) bottleneck and we are doing a hands on doing that.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Thank you.  Again, I would like to try to move on a little bit to the question, what did we learn in the pandemic?  And afterwards, we will conclude what you all contributed.  And we will also talk about, again, about the comments that also were input in Slido, like market access and local platforms and scalability.  We will -- maybe actually work a little bit from this when we talk about how the platform economy helped or even promoted small and medium sized enterprises.

What are your experiences or your observations?

>> ATSUSHI YAMANAKA: Can I take this question?

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Yes, please speak up.

>> ATSUSHI YAMANAKA: Okay.  Good.  Remarkable how, actually, people had to adapt to this, you know, lockdown, especially during this COVID-19.  I was doing, actually, research in North Africa at this time and I have to quickly come back to the home because everybody actually cross the borders.  After that, we are seeing globally how they had to survive, especially (?), right?  Because the means of, actually, you know, the language was all of a sudden lost.  So, they, actually, jammed into different platforms and they started seeing their product online.  They were delivering these products online.  They actually getting the products so that they could do the product.  So, all of a sudden they, actually, have to realize, they have to use it, this platform, basically, which is including the financial transactions as well.  A lot of the countries were hesitant, especially the people hesitant to use the digital transactions.  Not with real money being around.  But they couldn't do it because you couldn't go to shop, right?  Or you, actually, had to say like, okay, we will not touch the money, rate?  Or to see each other.

That is really, actually, forced people to use.  And then that's, kind of, correctional sort of transformation of the business process.  I think it was really a wake-up call.  But also I think it's going to last for many countries.  Because now they actually trust it as it's out.  The platform actually works.  I actually survived during this COVID-19 because thanks to the platform and also all the services which, actually, were built onto this platform.  And this was especially true I think in hardest hit places of the COVID-19.  Yes.

If I, actually, say, one regret I have is, for example, Japan, we may not have been -- this is a little bit controversial things to say, but I was expecting more transformation if they, actually, would hit a little bit more harder than it might actually have, actually in other countries.  Because that's really forced a lot of countries and a lot of assemblies to say this is the new way of doing things.  And once they learned the new way of (?) they would stay.  They will stay.  (?)

So I think there's a really great opportunity here for the business transformations, especially with SMEs.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Thank you.  Ana, please.

>> ANA PAULA BIALER: I'd like to add on that, and I think the experience in Brazil is a bit different, maybe because the gap of the digital transformation was a little bit broader.  So, I think we really felt more really society transforming and SMEs appearing as a result of the pandemic.  In a certain way, I do believe that the upside of such a strategy has been to expedite and folks talk about 10, 15 years in Brazil in terms of the digital inclusion of society.  And here talking about younger folks and older folks that were really against technology, they would prefer to go to the next door store to buy something and all of a sudden everything needs to happen online.  So the relevance was tremendous, as well as really people that lost jobs and that had to find ways of making a living, that became entrepreneurs, so became really small business and actually have business now that are flourishing because of it.  Changes have been structural in a certain way.  I would be interested to see in five years from now whether that a long-term trend or whether this was a reaction.  But it does seem to be something that has been engrained in society in terms of it's okay to go digital.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Okay.  This is very interesting because we were all talking about very strategic like how to foster, how to predominant and all of a sudden this awful pandemic happened, which has brought so much sorrow and pain over so many people around the world, but then all of a sudden it works without strategy?  This is really a surprise.

Alex, I would like to ask you whether you see -- have also encountered in Rwanda that maybe SMEs can be promoters of pandemic relief, in a way of overcoming the bad result of the pandemic.

>> ALEX NTALE: Yes.  So, what we saw, especially at the beginning of the first lockdowns, which were around March, we saw there was panic.  There was panic.  At first people thought maybe it's going to be a short while after two weeks, we may get back to the -- we may get out and back.  And then two weeks turned into a month.  And then turned into three months.  And but within that, one, we saw was getting on working with SMEs, seeking coming up with new solutions on facilitating whether that is distant farmers, rural farmers or people in marketplaces, because some essential workers were given movement permission.

And that quickly moved from a member core group of just around 18 platforms that we are working with or that we member e-commerce, member companies within the essential services sector, up to -- rose to 30 and to 60.  And that, with it, came increased transaction volumes as well.

So, in terms of moving, in terms of moving, some have not survived the period up to now, the second wave, fat wave, so to speak.  But some have stayed on, on course.  Some pivoted from focusing on silent sectors to focusing on the food and drug space.  And that has -- that enabled SMEs to continue trading, to continue doing business.

Then the other trend we saw was social commerce, tracting and selling on social platforms, social network platforms, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.  So besides just having to go onto a marketplace, people were setting up their own shops on these platforms and that has also increased tremendously.  Last week during our local IGF, we had one youngster testifying how that has grown over the last 18 months.  And she sells on Instagram as well as on Facebook and WhatsApp.  And uses another local delivery company for deliveries.

So, these are beginning to stick among SMEs and SMEs.  The other thing we saw is rise in digital payments.  I know for most of you this is a common thing.  You are used to buying online and paying with your credit card.  With the prevalence of mobile, as Alex say, we saw those numbers going up.  Actually, online payments were up by 530%. 

So, that is, basically, in terms of volumes, but also in terms of transaction -- numbers of transactions.  So, we believe these are sticking after, I think, Atsushi is the one who mentioned the part that governments removed or scrubbed some transaction charges, even operators and platforms removed some transaction fees.  That further increased that.  But even when they were reintroduced, the drop was not significant.  The drop in adoption or use it or volume was not significant compared to the registered (?)

That's what we are seeing in Rwanda and we are working also to see how we catalyze and make sure that there's retention and minimize those that go back to the old ways.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: So, there were some very positive effects there, too.  And some mobilization, might be the word that covers the different trends you all told us about.

I would like, because we are not really at the end, I'm glad, but a little bit moving to the end, I would like now to talk with you about what we have learned so far a little bit, in terms of support of regulatory and governance framework for SMEs in the platform economy.  And before we start our discussion, I would like to see again, please, Katharina the answers to the last question we had on our Slido poll.

>> KATHARINA MOSENE: Yes.  We have two more questions to talk about.  One also fitting your discussion is the question about the biggest regulatory obstacles for SMEs to participate in the platform business.  And there's some other things you already described, all of you.  And, for example, to comply with the same regulatory demands as big companies that do not consider the lower bureaucratic capacities, also various, diverging domestic regulations.  And I wish there was a clear global framework that would be appreciated.  And another point fitting to this point diverging national regulatory frameworks which hinders them to scale beyond one country.  So the matter of regulation, yeah.  Above countries, is quite interesting.

And then we have one question, that mate be a question for the end of the discussion, because the audience have the option to post open questions here.  And one person wanted to know how to participate in your initiative.  So, this might be something for the end.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Thank you very much.  But I think, indeed, that the answers or the input to the regulatory obstacle question is really, really revealing.  And we had already, as Katharina said some of the (?) issues but I would like to ask you what -- to describe the clash between the local and national norms with a global nature of trade, to put a little larger.  We had the data issue that was very important.  But I think this is other issues come in there, too, like, for example, the promise of the platforms is to have market access, as it was mentioned in the first Slido answer, too.  So increase market access for each customers you haven't reached before.  And so then all of a sudden you maybe come to an international platform or international suite with your product and service and you have countries from -- customers from other places.

So, what can help a small-sized business to make use of this promise in terms of market access?  What does the entrepreneur who wants to do this, what does he or she need to be successful in that and this transfer from the local sea to the international market.  What would they need first?  What do you think?  Shivendra, please.

>> SHIVENDRA SINGH: I think a couple of things.  Why the focus is on platform economies for SMEs, market access specifically, you know, I just came back last week from Canada with 45 SMEs, you know, and a lot of these which were in the pipeline who are closed, went in person, face-to-face meetings happened for SMEs.  You know, unlike large organizations who have deals in different parts of the world, who can close deals for SMEs.  I think that in-person connect, this is absolutely critical.  So, that's one.

The second is, obviously, credibility.  How do you build credibility for SMEs?  Because at the end of the day, you know, unlike a large company which has, you know, golden clients, as testimonials, for SMEs it's not the same.  And even if they have testimonials, a lot of their international clients find it difficult to know that.  So, a lot of that, I think, is.  Important. 

But from a platform perspective, I think the biggest problem for SMEs have been legacy building things, I think generating and understanding and awareness of what a benefit of getting onto a platform is and that, too, is different from a product company, (?) services company.  I think it's slightly more easier from a product company perspective.  So, that is important.

Getting out of the manual system and saying, this is beneficial because you're otherwise going to go from, you know, 30 to 40%, you are able to scale up in a very quick manner the barriers (?) or less.  I think that is something as in a structured way programs which are designed for SMEs, you know, how do we access culture issues?  Because they are, obviously, not aware of some of that.  These are a few things which I think are critical from an SME perspective.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Yeah.  That's interesting what you say between this legacy versus discovering the new opportunities.  And a project we have done, which was about increasing participation of SMEs in the internet governance and the project was funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economy.  And in this project we talked with many entrepreneurs and they said that -- one of them said it's an old tradition, family-owned business and they are so used to have this one-on-one contact with their customers, they are producing things, and with their customers that they acknowledge the need to keep -- to stay in the market and that platforms will be the only way even for producers, even for specialized tools, devices, whatever, components, even they need the platform to reach the customers and reach new customers, but then the way of doing it was so different from before.

And I think this is a real issue here.  And I am wondering if one of you has ideas about how to handle this or maybe even programs.  Ana, maybe.  I see you nodding.

>> ANA PAULA BIALER: Thank you.  I think it's an interesting perspective.  And Shivendra mentioned that maybe for the project company might be even easier from the services company.  And I am thinking here about import procedures.  Brazil, for instance, is known for the complexity of import proceedings and not being able to actually get things in the country.  And in that sense, maybe for this topic, we actually have places where this conversation can happen, which is a way to actually facilitate the flow of physical products in different jurisdictions and maybe with ways to simplify that for SMEs.  And I do agree here that the legacy way of doing things is really a problem and it's a problem for this whole discussion.  We are used to look at the legacy and trying to replicate that for the digital economy and that doesn't work.  But it seems to me that from where digital connects with the physical or delivery of physical goods, it might be easier to address some of the questions.  Then we are only talking about flow of data or rendering of services, per se.  It's more difficult to actually get the regulation or all the oversight in the services arena.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Yeah, that's right.  Atsushi, please.

>> ATSUSHI YAMANAKA: Actually, that's very interesting.  But Friederike, I think you mentioned the other cases of the German companies, SMEs having difficult time adjusting.  I was thinking, maybe how -- actually, this might be a, actually, advantage opportunities for, like, especially the new sort of SMEs, I think.  How can you retain this sort of individual touch within the digital platform area or digital transactions.  That might be a real opportunity here.  We talk about, of course, business process, re-engineering, tending everything.  Of course in the process it's important but at the same time can we actually incorporate this contextualization or individual sort of connections in the new digital transaction arena?  That might be a key for not only the traditional SMEs that, actually, come on board, but, at the same time, actually, having, sort of, whole new, sort of, set of customers and then -- I think it was mentioned by, actually, Manan about the need for translating, right, from the technology side to the customers.  But also from the customers to the producers or the substance providers, if you talk about the global, sort of, marketplace where they have so many different contexts.  Manan was talking about this Armenian people do not understand how the general public works.  Can we incorporate, perhaps, that kind of transaction facilities or connection facilities within the new digital platform?  I think that might give you whole new set of market access.  What do you think?

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: I think that's very interesting.  And I pass on this question, of course, to Manan.  But I would like to add another -- an extension of the question, which is I would like to hear an answer that is not, I will just try harder to do this.  But an answer that is about how can we jointly manage this?  This is then about governance.  You know?  Manan, please.

>> MANAN VOSKANIAN: Yes, I'm not sure if I can answer your extension.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: No, no, start with your answer anyway.

>> MANAN VOSKANIAN: I do agree with Atsushi.  I don't think it's wrong to translate the nondigital world into the digital world because mostly it's not so different and I think this is something you have to tell the SMEs.  It's not like you're doing something completely new.  You are transforming all your business and you have to rethink all the processes you are doing.  I think this is the biggest mistake you can make, because these SMEs have problems enough.  They don't need to wonder about, oh, my God, I have been doing everything wrong the whole time and now I have to redo it to fit into the new world.  I don't think this is right.

I think what we are doing with platforms is creating new services, new digital technologies or tools that actually help doing them what they have been doing all the time, maybe a bit better and not different.  Since we started to our customers which are manufacturers and vendors, of course, so all of the SMEs and we have talked to over 200 so far.  We have recognized that it actually helps to tell them this is just a tool.  You decide how you use it.  And you can use as much of it as you want.  It can help to improve your processes, but it's not going to override everything you have done so far.  It's just going to help you.

And I think this is very important that we are not rethinking the world completely at once, because I don't think SMEs are ready for that.  We have to help them to do small steps and step by step what to do next and how to achieve things.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: You have had help in planning your platform and maybe you can tell us a little bit how this works, not maybe in detail, but you didn't invent everything from scratch, did you?

>> MANAN VOSKANIAN: No, we did not.  Actually our platform is founded on everything we did in the shop.  We already had inspiration to buy and we already had sample boxes.  And what helped us with that someone from outside looked at our business model and said, okay, these are great features.  But at the moment you are doing it yourself.  If you just outsource this to the crowd, if you let the community do the work for you, so invert your business, you might be doing the same thing, but much more efficiently.  And you can reach more people and you can scale the product and services you are offering.  So, that's what he actually did.  And he told us a lot about the economy you have to build around your business model.  And the networks you have -- or the community you have to build to be able to work with it.  So, I think what's very difficult for SMEs is to understand that platforms are much more transparent and they build on networks and working together and being open for cooperation instead of being closed up and saying, I don't want any competitor to know anything about me and I am going to be the only one.

I think joining and doing this together even with your competitors can be very powerful.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: That's a very important link there, too, to how to cooperate.

But, yes, I know that all of you are experienced in creating, developing and running really support networks.  And we have had the public support, as Shivendra told in various ways.  But we also have the support of associations and industry associations and Manan had the support she went to a digital, we will call a development agency, something like a competence center, fostered by the government.

So, this is a network.  What kind of elements do we need in this support network?  This is a regulatory framework starting, of course, with laws and maybe international laws, too, or international treaties, too.  But then we have the law, but then we have the private-public sector.  What are your experiences with that?  What has been helpful in creating a governance framework in this Cascade that worked well?

>> ANA PAULA BIALER: If I may.  I think there are -- there are ways that you can have mechanisms for specific lines of financing, for instance, that would benefit this companies coming into the market.  Structures whereby you can foster NGO investors.  And here I talk about structures in terms of protecting liability, where you can, actually, benefit from investors that were successful in terms of channeling and not only financial resources, but the expertise of how they manage to, actually, have their own unicorns into that.  And, obviously, I would say trade associations or forums like the IGF in terms of capacitation.  I do have a sense that often there is a complexity that drives entrepreneurs to think it's just too difficult or too distant.  And initiatives, multistakeholders initiatives where you can have the conversation are absolutely essential for that as well.  I think it's way beyond the financial resources.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Uh-huh.  Okay.

>> ANA PAULA BIALER: And when we had the discussion in Brazil, another issue that was raised and that I think it's also an interesting approach is structuring of tax breaks that can be offered for small companies and entrepreneurs to allow them to use those resources for capacity building or, actually, for that jump start.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Okay.  I think this happened in Rwanda, too, right, to create the ICT ecosystem?

>> ALEX NTALE: Yes.  We had been working with -- actually, the other examples mentioning shared with us, a list of youngsters, recent graduates that are looking for opportunities.  It's because of this frameworks that we have with government and working with them.  Right now, actually, last year -- yeah, earlier this year we started working on the technology policy of our startups or rather, the startup act, which aims to really create frameworks and incentive structures that help those that want to start new businesses, but also those that the different stakeholders or entrepreneurial organizations and all the people in the -- in that value chain to be able to work together, but also to take advantage of certain regulatory frameworks and instruments.

So, for us, I would say we have been lucky to, one, it's a small country.  But, two, we have, kind of, a young leadership group that understands and we work very closely together to make sure that, actually, the business environment is conducive.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Okay.  Thank you, thank you.  Unfortunately, our time is over.  I am sad about it, because there were so many issues that were brought up and I would have liked to discuss in more depth.

My final question to one of you and, of course, please be brief, referred very interesting approaches and best practices for how to promote SMEs participation in the platform business.  And fostered by regulation, good regulation.  Which one was your most impressive example?  What would you Luke to take home with you what you hadn't heard before or would like to increase at home?  Who is the brave one to start?  Okay.  What about you, Shivendra?

>> SHIVENDRA SINGH: I quite liked Manan's argument that, and I did mention it initially as well that, you know, they need flexibility.  You cannot have, you know, fixed rules because digital economy is something which is evolving.  You talked about, you know, the pandemic and how that's impacted.  95% of companies went into work from home more and still most of them are doing that.  And are doing that very successfully.

Now whether this is going to be the model or whether it is the hybrid is going to be the model, the way technology is evolving, every day is going to be a new day.  So, similarly, you know, the flexibility, I think, which Manan mentioned in terms of having, you know, the best of the platform business, as well as Atsushi also mentioned, you know, being able to have that one-on-one connect with, you know, customers is one big thing which I'm going to take away from this.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Thank you.  Ana.  Your takeaway.

>> ANA PAULA BIALER: I do have to say that, first of all, thank you for the discussion.  It's been incredible.  And did stand out Atsushi's comment on the in-person interaction and the very custom relationship.  I think we tend to have the discussion in terms of the digital and everything online.  But for SMEs, the distance from the physical environment, I think it's a little shorter and the challenge here is to be able to keep the connection locally but to be able to, actually, have the global access.  So, how do you intertwine this to realities which in a way, I guess, is one of the additional challenges, which we cannot address with policies or regulation.  Thank you.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Okay.  Thank you.  Atsushi, your takeaway.

>> ATSUSHI YAMANAKA: Thank you so much.  I tend to speak too much.  I learned so much from all the participants, the partners.  This was very, very enriching discussions and I could go forever about all this kind of topic.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: One takeaway is enough.

>> ATSUSHI YAMANAKA: Yes, one takeaway.  I particularly like, we should not lower the threshold for the service.  And I think that was very, very important, I think.  We should facilitate and, you know, creating a mechanism so that the SME could, actually, adapt this higher threshold.  I think that is very important.  Because we are not, actually, you know, making SMEs less competently, right?  So in order for them to be more competent, of course they have to go through the higher level.  But it's really important that we provide the facilities, we provide the education, the digital literacies and all of these things so that we can make sure that they would adapt and also individual services in the digital arena.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Thank you.  Manan, your takeaway.

>> MANAN VOSKANIAN: Sorry.  I forgot I was on mute.  Yes, I, actually, agree with Atsushi.  I think we have to help the SMEs to be able to achieve the heir threshold but still, I think, they need some kind of entry level.  I think they need some trials or some very clear guidelines on how they can actually profit from doing more work and then doing that.  And then I think they are, actually, able to manage it.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Okay.  Alex, the final words.

>> ALEX NTALE: Thank you.  So, my takeaways are on some pieces that Shivendra mentioned on occupational standards competencies and what they have been able to build with NASSCOM and translation.  I think from Atsushi and Manan speaking of the languages and this globalization brings about with a translating specs or translating in terms of the different cultures and languages that we coming from.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE: Thank you so much.  I am so glad that this session was also streamed as on YouTube and we can look at -- watch it there again and we can go back there and take all this wonderful, this rich input can visit it -- watch it again and think about it more, which we will certainly do.  And please get back to us if you want any -- if you need any -- if you want to connect, for example, we will be happy to do this.  And also invite the audience, please get back to us.  Ask us and we will happily provide additional information, additional resources as good as we can, and we will be there to connect you all.

I thank you very, very much for being here.  I thank everybody in the audience, online and thank the team in Katowice for the support, for the technical support, for the help, for the very, very wonderful IGF, for the whole IGF, this is really a great opportunity.  As we found out today, we need places to exchange and so thanks to you and the technical team, it really managed, it really worked out that we have internet united, the motto of this year's IGF 2021.  Thank you so much and I hope to see you all again soon.  Bye-bye.

(Session was concluded at 17:28 UTC)