Digitization - opportunities and challenges for entrepreneurs  

Digitization - opportunities and challenges for entrepreneurs
Avocat Ștefan Burciu, SCA SIMION, NERE & IORDACHE

This last year, Romanian business market became more and more preoccupied with digitalisation. From this point of view, the pandemic has been for entrepreneurs a time for reflection, and the results shall materialise in the near future. If we are to identify a positive aspect of the pandemic context, I think about expediting the digitalisation process.

Nevertheless, it is no less true that speeding up the digitalisation process entails a series of challenges, that some of the entrepreneurs have already foreseen and taken the necessary measures, while those who have not yet done so, will have to find the best solutions to get aligned with the new trends.

Aside from the technical issues, we have ascertained that most of the unknowns are rather related to the legal nature of such a project. All digitalisation projects rely on the support of IT specialists, but very few of them approach as well the legal dimension.

A preliminary legal analysis will point out a series of latent issues which might put a stop to a digitalisation project if identified too late. A downplayed aspect is the very contractual relationship between the entrepreneur and IT specialists. We have ascertained that often the project’s ideas are translated into a service contract poorly drafted, which subsequently favours misunderstandings and dysfunctional project management.

Both markets, business and IT are reluctant when it comes to get formalised, by drawing up and concluding a clear contract, easy to understand by all the involved parties, preferring lengthy contracts with overspecialised vocabulary which is impossible to understand without specific knowledge. This is where the role of a specialist lawyer comes in, who can mediate between the two sides and act as a true legal translator for both entrepreneurs and IT specialists.

You may be wondering what are the changes the pandemic has brought onto the business market, considering that the e-commerce platforms were booming already and we were all familiar with this concept. Most of us associate digitalisation with e-commerce platforms, but we tend to forget the progress registered in the field of services. The pandemic did not reboot, nor significantly influenced the products’ remote sale, but for sure has represented a strong push to digitalise the service sector.

Current trends came with new challenges in the legal area, which was forced to keep up with the ever more diverse requirements of the business environment. For instance, we saw that, lately, start-ups are launched only after carrying out a legal due diligence step, during which we are asked to identify the potential issues and to propose the best solutions and development strategy, including from the viewpoint of the contracted technologies, for which we offer custom legal solutions.

And if we are talking about businesses digitalisation, we think that a very important aspect, that entrepreneurs should be aware of beforehand, is that a brand’s defining elements, as the specific of the services offered, software products developed or used, the name or the logo becomes easier and easier to replicate, circumstances which require a higher level of protection. An innovative idea, implemented without a well-defined strategy, may easily be “borrowed”. To secure a brand online and to prevent such actions, entrepreneurs should prioritise the preservation of intellectual property rights over all these defining elements.

The current situation allows us to analyse in-depth this topic, and draw the conclusion that a successful business digitalisation implies assuming certain responsibilities and fulfilling certain requirements, and us, as specialists in the legal area, we are prepared to answer the new challenges in the field. Strictly form a legal point of view, it is commendable that the European Parliament adopted on 23 November 2020 two proposals aimed at modernising legal systems in the EU by implementing digital solutions for obtaining evidence and serving documents across borders in order to streamline cooperation between national courts in different EU countries. These proposals will help reduce delays, bring more legal certainty and lower the costs associated with access to justice.

According to the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), which annually measures the progress that EU Member States are making towards a digital economy and society, composed of five main areas: connectivity, human capital, internet use, digital technology integration and digital public services, Romania ranks 26th out of 27 EU Member States.

Based on its 18 years of experience in business law, Simion, Nere & Iordache Law Firm assumes the role of legal partner in the business digitisation process. We encourage and support private sector innovation in the online environment and are ready to identify and implement the most reliable solutions.

 

 

 

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27 November 2021

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