'Upskilling In Emerging Technologies Is Key To Malta’s Digital Transformation'

Microsoft recently appointed Pavlos Kitsanelis as the new Public Sector Lead for Malta, Greece and Cyprus, confirming Microsoft’s strengthened vision for a digitalized public sector that supports Malta’s Government and contributes to better citizenship

Pavlos Kitsanelis, Public Sector Lead for Microsoft Malta, Greece and Cyprus
Pavlos Kitsanelis, Public Sector Lead for Microsoft Malta, Greece and Cyprus

How has Microsoft been supporting Malta’s Government over the past few years?

When last year, Microsoft commemorated its twenty-year presence in Malta, it pledged further commitment to the values of Learning, Working and Innovating. This commitment remained possible thanks to the very strong and fruitful twenty-year partnership we have built with Malta’s Government. In line with our mission to empower people and organisations to achieve more, we have supported Malta’s Government with solutions and services aligned with Malta’s vision and strategy for digital transformation. These included training and certification programs for teachers and students, online platforms such as Teams and Minecraft Education Edition to enhance classroom collaboration and creativity and the migration of core applications and services to the cloud to improve efficiency and transparency at Government level. We also collaborated with the Government to enhance its security and resilience through services that monitor and respond to cyber threats and incidents.

Microsoft recently presented the first-ever #AI chatbot for the Greek Public Sector, based on Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI technology. Can you tell us more about this? How is this project evolving?

The innovative mAIgov application integrated into the gov.gr platform functions as a digital assistant, primarily enhancing the quality, speed, and accessibility of public services offered to citizens by simplifying interactions and aiding users in their day-to-day tasks related to government services. Powered by Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI, it has been meticulously trained using open data sourced from gov.gr and other public agency websites. comprehending both written and spoken queries from users and conducting relevant searches to provide straightforward and easily understandable answers. mAIgov is constantly evolving by refining its functionality and to date, its latest update supports a remarkable 22 languages.

How is this supporting the Greek Government and its citizens?

In the first two months of operation, mAIgov addressed over 400,000 qualified requests, diligently analysed by the Ministry of Digital Governance and shared relevant insights with the respective ministries. More importantly, citizens have responded positively to this innovative platform because interactions are not only simplified but the time required to access personalized information is now also significantly reduced.

Does Microsoft have plans to collaborate with Malta’s Government on similar AI projects?

Microsoft enjoys a long and healthy relationship with Malta’s Government, and the digital transformation journey of Malta has been impressive. We are constantly cooperating with Government to discuss how AI can support a better service to Malta’s citizens and improve the efficiency of the Government’s internal complex processes and together, we are exploring how AI’s capabilities can empower Malta’s citizens more.

AI is now acknowledged as the biggest disruptor of our time. How can Governments contribute to making AI an enabler in society?

Governments worldwide are increasingly integrating AI into their services and operational frameworks, thus shaping AI policies and strategic directions. Consequently, AI-driven data insights, chatbots and digital public services are revolutionizing how governments engage with citizens. By harnessing AI, governments can achieve smarter business outcomes and innovative solutions. GenAI for instance, holds promise in enhancing visibility into historical data for better decision-making in areas such as health, justice, citizen protection, work and employability. Fundamentally, AI optimizes employee time by automating manual processes. But to successfully adapt to this transformation and effectively make public services more efficient and innovative, government and public servants must prioritize upskilling in these emerging technologies.

What value does Microsoft bring to Governments in terms of better citizenship?

Microsoft supports citizens because it wants to make a positive impact on society. Our Digital Citizenship Training courses on responsible online behaviour, privacy, and security, help prepare learners for online success thus fostering a more positive online environment. We also focus on initiatives related to upskilling, nonprofit support, and digital transformation to help citizens address today’s societal challenges. Society is a digital one and increasingly AI-enabled. To empower everyone for success, we believe in preparing the next generation of leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators with initiatives that spotlight opportunities for youth worldwide.

How will Microsoft support the Government in Malta’s digital transformation?

These past twenty years have seen us supporting Government’s Cloud journey which has resulted in better services for Maltese citizens. Microsoft also empowered individuals across various groups with essential digital skills, with programs like Microsoft Skills For Jobs for students to access study paths, mentorship, and internationally recognized certificates. Public servants continue to enhance their skills through Microsoft Learn, covering topics like cybersecurity and data analytics whilst the Digital Skills Hub is upskilling the unemployed and providing pathways to tech roles and job opportunities.

The start-up sector is a focus for Microsoft, How is it planning to continue collaborating with Malta’s Government about this important sector?

At Microsoft, we are very confident in this partnership of mutual trust and shared values, and this is why we want to continue to support Malta’s Government in several key areas, such as education, health, the public sector and cybersecurity. We want to strengthen our collaboration with government agencies such as MDIA, Tech.mt, Malta Enterprise, and MGI while continuing to support startups through our Founders Hub program, helping startups scale up their operation with tools like Open AI and Copilot. Outreach remains crucial and this is why we are also planning more joint educative sessions about technology. This will reinforce Microsoft’s role as the backbone and trusted tech partner not only for Malta’s start-ups but also in Malta’s future economic growth.

Pavlos Kitsanelis, Public Sector Lead for Microsoft Malta, Greece and Cyprus

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