Digital transformation is an irreversible process. It hides many risks, but it also offers opportunities. Especially for those investors who manage to find a good niche and catch the wave that gives advantage to the first.
At a Dead End
When one invests looking through rose-coloured glasses at the future, usually soon after comes a period of soberness. Then, for example, it becomes clear that the constructed hotel in a seasonal resort is not the expected heavenly manna. Bansko has become a world-renown ski destination, but it already suffers from overdevelopment and from the fact that it currently has only one gondola lift. For a relatively short period of time, many investors transformed the small town into a large resort with huge bed capacity and tourists that come occasionally over the weekend to ski are not enough to fill it. "The problem is serious and its solution is like finding a cure against cancer", comments Milko Pamukchiev, owner of Snow Pearl Apartment Complex. According to him, every entrepreneur and investor must find the right way for their investment towards its new future and breathe new life into it. But how? For attracting a new customer segment, it is necessary to offer new attractive products and a new vision.
How to Get Noticed
The Canary Islands have become a sort of capital for digital nomads. People from all over the world have gathered there and find excellent conditions to live and work. According to Milko Pamukchiev, Bansko also has the potential to turn into an attractive European destination for digital nomads, and there are already such people who have moved there. Generally speaking, they are looking for a low cost of living, bio food, fresh air and good opportunities for remote work. Some freelancers have registered their companies in Bulgaria to take advantage of the low taxation. They have to be found and convinced that this really is their place. Their attention can be caught, for example, by conferences and presentations that would arose their curiosity to the new opportunities. Traditional advertising methods are unlikely to get them out of their comfort zone. "If I see an advertisement that simply invites me to go to Uganda because I will live there very well, I will pay no attention to it and I will not even consider if it’s worth it," the entrepreneur comments. In order for the realization of such an idea to become a mission possible, gradually, an environment suitable for digital nomads must be created. If there are promising ideas, business angels may be invited who would be interested in the realization of the new products that some of these freelancers will create here.
"Everyone must find their own way to get to the digital nomads. They must be prepared to present the advantages in a good enough way. However, the discussion should not be focused around the idea that it is cheap here, but around the opportunities for realization of their ideas, and around the already well-functioning ecosystem with technological and logistic opportunities in an EU Member State," Pamukchiev assures. According to him, the conditions allow for large multinational companies to situate their employees here and thus optimize their costs. These people will have a wonderful place for work and recreation - clean air, skiing in winter, summer tourism, golf, and mineral water.
The Snowball Effect
The region around Bansko and Razlog has a huge potential to become a technological centre. Co-working spaces are already being created in Bansko, and the more people come to work here, the more people like them will follow. So, the snowball effect is already showing results. What is more, people with different professions will start coming, too, who will settle down and carry out various business activities.
Digital transformation requires entrepreneurs to reconfigure their thinking and business. The Bulgarian market is small and it is good for entrepreneurs to seek foreign opportunities. Whoever fails to adapt properly, will be out of the game. There are tremendous opportunities for development and we should not be afraid of the coming changes. In Paris, at the end of the 18th century, there were almost 30,000 water carriers; when water pipes were introduced, the carriers were also afraid that they would be left without a job.
With a Flying Start
However, digitalization will draw some new dividing lines. A new stratum is already being formed, which Milko Pamukchiev arbitrarily defines as digital aristocracy. Artificial intelligence is becoming more and more widespread, and this, in his opinion, raises the question of what the future holds for the "natural intellect" and for those who are unable to keep up with digital change. Raising and educating a super specialist in a certain area is an expensive process that takes at least a quarter of a century. Places such as the Silicon Valley have become a magnet for human intelligence, and countries like Bulgaria inevitably become donors. This is understandable because corporations such as Google have development strategies for 50 years ahead, while governments of countries around the world may see only a 4-5 year horizon. And still, if Bulgaria does not want to be either lagging behind or catching up, it must create the conditions for the accelerated development of the most promising areas related to the development of high technology, innovation, artificial intelligence. There is an infrastructure; there is also an entrepreneurial spirit that can be encouraged to enter the digital era with a flying start.