LIVE FROM COMARCH USER GROUP 2018, KRAKOW, POLAND: Europe faces many challenges that prevent it from creating technology giants of the kind seen in the US and China, with GDPR an example of the type of over-regulation which is hindering progress, the CEO of software company Comarch argued.

In an opening address, Janusz Filipiak (pictured) stated European companies find it hard to scale up as each country has its own laws, language and culture. GDPR doesn’t help, as it is “especially painful” and “the most stupid regulation I have ever seen in my life”.

He explained the regulation doesn’t provide any specific guidance on how to secure personal data and companies have incurred very high costs when preparing for it. Hammering the point home, Filipiak said GDPR is one of the reasons Europe is losing its advantage over the US and Asian companies. Proliferation of personal data in the cloud is inevitable, he argued, adding blocking this is not good for the region.

Another issue is that US tech giants Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook are working to build their own empire and sometimes even cooperate to create a value chain for users, unlike European companies which are fiercely competitive, which is not helping their case.

Filipiak said economic and labour laws are different in each EU country, and no single policy works for all countries, meaning businesses need to start from scratch in every market.

On the plus side, though, he noted Europe does have high quality human resouces. Poland, for example, is number three after China and Russia when it comes to having the best developers, and ahead of Switzerland and Hungary.

However, he noted credit is not always paid to the right people. For example, while a Polish startup produced the speech recognition software used in Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant, it is the US company (which bought the software) that received the plaudits.

Similarly, an implementation of Alexa voice control in vehicles produced by Seat is typically credited to the auto maker and US tech company, despite being handled by Polish engineers from Comarch.

The challenge is not a lack of talent but how to effectively use it, he noted.

Filipiak was critical of Amazon, which he said wants to appropriate all areas related to ecommerce “and this includes our brain”.

He said in addition to analysing online shopping habits, Amazon also monitors IoT devices which are part of its Dash Replenishment Service automatic ordering system.

Amazon Web Services also came in for criticism: the service can create a vendor lock in because businesses can end up fully dependent on its tools once they begin using the system, Filipiak argued.