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Microsoft Slovenia Boss Says Cloud Computing Future of IT (interview)

Portoroz, 01 June (STA) - The general manager of Microsoft Slovenia, Matej Potokar, has pointed to information technology as a key element in the further development of Slovenia's economy, while highlighting cloud computing as the future of IT.

Speaking for the STA on the sidelines of the Microsoft NT Conference held in Portoroz last week, Potokar said that a number of companies prove that "IT is one of the factors that can improve the competitiveness of an entire country".

"We can talk about projects that directly prove the basic paradigm of the current times, which will also be valid in the future - optimising operating costs while at the same time increasing productivity."

Potokar believes that the public sector could also follow such successful examples, with an opportunity for this emerging in the e-health project. If good solutions are introduced, one can also market them abroad, he pointed out.

Asked about a recent decline in investments into IT by Slovenian companies, Potokar said that 2009 was a tough year for all companies and that some missed the opportunity for restructuring. Putting this off will cost them even more, he noted.

"However, I'm an optimist. I see the future of IT and, indirectly, business, for which IT has become as vital as electricity, in cloud computing...which will bring more focus on the content of a company's operations, meaning its basic activity, and less on technical infrastructure."

Elaborating on the concept of cloud computing, Potokar said that it stands for solutions that enable work to be conducted anywhere, at any time and from any machine, without the need to install software.

The advantages include "lower costs...quicker reaction time to changes in business modes and easier management of the information environment".

"There will actually no longer be any need for companies to take care of their own information infrastructure - instead they will hand over part of it to a partner that is highly skilled and reliable."

Potokar pointed to e-mail or saving photos on the web as the already existing and widely spread forms of cloud computing. "However, technology has already reached a level where cloud computing is also appropriate for the most demanding business environments."

Returning to e-health, a project that envisages a full digitalisation of Slovenia's health care database by 2023 at a cost of EUR 136m, Potokar described it as a major upcoming challenge for a number of countries, not only Slovenia.

"Solutions being introduced now are being watched around the world and the best among them have the chance of being introduced elsewhere," he said, stressing that this was an excellent opportunity for the Slovenian IT industry.

As regards Slovenia's approach to setting up an e-health system, Potokar is missing a more comprehensive framework that would define how individual processes will be connected.

"Only then can one launch individual sub-projects. It is definitely not good to start building the concept of e-health with small sub-projects," he said, calling for a top-down approach that would help avert the use of outdated IT solutions.

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