Tom Meyer
Tom Meyer (General Manager and Group Vice President)
Martin Canning
Martin Canning (Group Vice President, European Consulting)
Tom Schwieters
Tom Schwieters (Vice President)
Dana Vanickova
Dana Vanickova (Head of Events, CEE)

IDC’s annual CEE Summit was held in Vienna on June 9-11, with the theme of “Unlocking Performance Potential.” It highlighted the opportunities and challenges for organizations currently embracing AI.

Digital transformation continues to reshape industries and economies worldwide, and Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) is no exception. This vibrant region, with its technology hubs and innovative spirit, has the potential to become a key player in the global tech landscape.

In this blog post, we offer insights from industry experts on the pivotal factors driving this transformational change. From building IT spending transparency and making a compelling case for artificial intelligence to the critical roles of culture, change management, and sustainability, we explore how CEE can harness its full transformation potential. Moreover, we emphasize why cybersecurity remains a top priority in this rapidly evolving digital era.

Key insights include:

Making the Case for AI and Building IT Spend Transparency

AI use cases are widespread and growing, in industries including financial services, pharma, manufacturing, and more. However, IDC research shows that GenAI investments are putting increasing pressure on IT budgets.

For organizations with tight IT budgets, our advice is to build a transparent IT spending management capability that provides a financially sound platform on which to base investment decisions.  Avoid reliance on high-level benchmarks that provide no visibility on the organization’s future state. Mapping spending to clear cost pools and defined services provides great insights into spending and helps identify opportunities to cut costs and improve efficiency.

Culture and Change Management Are Key for Any Kind of Transformation

No matter the company size or sector, winning over hearts and minds is crucial for success. This is true whether the organization is consolidating its regional IT services delivery, looking to fully leverage the benefits of GenAI, or adopting SAP HANA across the business. 

Key elements in building a positive culture include solid backing from senior management, empowerment of teams to make their own decisions and fail fast, finding the right ambassadors of change, and rooting out toxicity.

Given all the different elements involved in change, organizations need to consider a change management function focused on the successful adoption of new tools, processes, and behaviors. This helps with communication, building transparency, and creating buy-in during periods that are often riddled with uncertainty.

Sustainability and Tech for Good

Sustainability and IT optimization are becoming critical in Europe and hot topics of discussion among IT users. Driven by the increasing number of European regulations and directives, sustainability is seen as a viable approach to stay competitive, enhance brand image, and boost customer trust. However, like IT optimization (or FinOps), sustainability can also help to streamline operations, reduce costs, and increase business value.

Cybersecurity Remains High on the Agenda

Cybersecurity remains a high priority for European executives, in particular with activities such as building resilience and business continuity, regulatory compliance and governance, and positioning security as a enabler.

Focus is increasing on cloud-native security capabilities, such as endpoint protection, threat intelligence, and application security. However, there are many industries where legacy infrastructure is widespread, resulting in security capabilities that must be adapted for cloud .


Many organizations are at the AI exploration stage, testing out use cases that often focus on productivity, such as chatbots and digital assistants with GenAI. For many organizations, the worry centers around the ROI gap and the real impact of AI on business.

However, real commercial differentiation with the use of AI can only be driven with function-specific (CFO, CMO, CHRO) use cases or industry-specific use , but those are more complex and investment-. Effectively, organizations are looking at the trade-off between ease of implementation vs. cost with less/more differentiation. Impacts from this investment can be achieved at all levels in the organization, but the level of impact will depending on the chosen trade-off.

We advise more holistic thinking: Organizations need a responsible AI strategy and prioritized use case roadmap with C-suite buy-in. Challenges such as AI pricing, governance, and organizational change must be considered. The broader ecosystem — including supply chain, tech vendors and other strategic partners — must also be considered. in mind, however, that GenAI or broader AI doesn’t offer a short cut to the holistic thinking noted above: you need to start with a data strategy.

IDC’s 2024 CEE Summit

Over three days, participants gathered to discuss technology opportunities and challenges from a distinctly CEE perspective. The Summit had wide representation from across the region, with participants from Czechia, Slovakia, Poland, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Greece, Austria, Hungary, Romania, and Bosnia Hercegovina.

The location — in the historic town center of Vienna — evoked the Vienna Circle of the early 20th Century,  where discussions among mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers laid many of the logical foundations for the Information Age of the second half of the century.

One highlight of the event was an innovation challenge, where teams had to swiftly create and propose a GenAI-enabled initiative. This generated collaboration and many creative investment pitches, with the winner focusing on AI to improve predictive maintenance for electric vehicles.

As attendees departed Vienna, they did so with more than a fridge magnet and the strains of Mozart in their ears — they took with them new knowledge, new contacts, and the inspiration that comes from setting aside the daily routine long enough to exchange ideas with industry peers.

If you want to find out more about this and other events we host, please visit our website here.

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