1. Bojan, your focus at Medius is business development and sales of complex IT solutions. Was this always your interest?
I’ll start by commenting on the phrase "business development", which I think should be given more attention. Business development can move mountains when implementing both existing and new solutions. It is a precisely defined sequence of research, knowledge of the market, needs and challenges of the client, and all of this is then carried out according to the time, needs and economic conditions. Business development is the most complex sales instrument which has already matured abroad, while in Slovenia a lot of progress was made especially in the last few years. But we're not there yet.
Technology, on the other hand, has always interested me and as a result, I decided to study electrical engineering in Ljubljana. I have always flirted with rhetoric, performance and the question of how to gain the attention and trust of a listener through different approaches. If you took an average electrical engineering student and added some extroversion and sales skills, there would be no need for my job in development (laughs). These are really some of the best students that improve the lives of many people through technological innovation. If I add respectful communication with fellow engineers, understanding and respect for their way of expressing themselves to my skill set, you can understand where I add the most value. This is why I quickly found myself on the side of business development, which requires more social skills and a strong engineering touch at the same time. The decision was pretty easy.
2. You have worked in different companies across different industries, almost always as the person responsible for business development. What is the common denominator—technology or constant challenges?
All industries can be interesting and full of challenges. While studying telecommunications, I first became interested in energy, which might seem pretty random. The fact is that large demonstration projects were just starting at that time and the need for digitization of the Slovenian energy system was great. Smart Grid projects were launched, search for solutions to energy challenges began. On the other hand, telecommunications was already a mature industry at its peak and also extremely digitalized. I saw an advantage and opportunity in transferring all the knowledge I acquired during my studies into the field of energy. A lot of really good technological ideas were implemented back then, I remember those times fondly.
What followed was a period of moving to other industries (energy, banking, automotive industry, manufacturing companies,...), which also gave me international experience, and there I had the opportunity as an engineer and salesman to thoroughly understand the challenges of individual industries. To try and speak the same language, to gain trust and credibility right to the moment when you are entrusted with the project in its entirety with different approaches and products. At one point I was responsible for the business development of electronic products and the digitalization of business environments in more than 60 countries from the EU to New Zealand.
As for the common denominator, it’s both. As the head of business development, I have been fortunate enough that all companies that offer technology (IT) solutions have always had a whole bunch of new ideas and wanted to bring these ideas to market. If these solutions are suitable for different industries, they need someone who knows how to properly place them on the market, someone who understands the needs of customers and, of course, can start with the first sales attempts. Such a person must have a wide range of experience and already proven results from various fields, as he is a bridge between the provider and the market, a kind of crucial link or a friend who advises and helps. This is also my current role as director of business development and sales at Medius.
3. Understanding the industry challenges and offering improvements, is this your main mission at Medius?
My mission is to be the best version of myself in all aspects of life (laughs). I can only comment on what drives me and why I’m good at what I do. Being good at business development means understanding the environment and capturing the right moment that brings the most value to stakeholders. I could say that it is a game of time, needs and understanding. I can't control the time. I can influence the needs in such a way as to place them in a wider context and illuminate the added value. At Medius, we do just that by encouraging companies to use data. We can do this with confidence thanks to many well-executed projects in the field of big data and AI and a team of amazing engineers.
The reality is that many companies are sitting on data not knowing what to do with them. This is our main message to our existing and potential clients. There are many reasons why this is the case. But mostly it comes down to the fact that their expertise lies somewhere else and so they do not have the skills and the knowledge in the field of big data architecture, data processing and artificial intelligence. However, this should not be an obstacle, which is why at Medius we encourage companies to familiarize themselves with their data situation. We want to bring them closer to utilization of big data and AI with demonstrations of good practices and use cases from various industries. We believe this is the right way.
This is why I can say that we are the best choice for all companies that are flirting with data-driven projects, and for those that might need a showcase of a successful project first so that their project can garner internal support.
4. Medius is a provider of custom software solutions, mainly those that use artificial intelligence. What would you say is a speciality of Medius?
Medius is a recognized provider of software IT solutions and AI solutions for critical business systems, especially within large companies. We are present in industries that are traditionally more digitally mature and have a desire (and a strategy) to use data for improving business results, both in the short and long term. Differentiation starts at three levels:
- Medius is a company that offers niche business-critical solutions that are not available as off-the-shelf products. We are the recipient of a global award from the United Nations for one of our projects, and the recipient of the bronze award for innovation 2019 from the Chamber of Commerce of Slovenia for the machine learning project in Public Administration. Innovation and thinking outside the box are key building blocks of our company.
- The intertwining projects within different industries give us an extraordinary insight into what is possible and where are limitations in the use of data and artificial intelligence. We have learned from practice what it takes for a project to be successful and what is needed from all sides to finish the project on time and to achieve set goals. In this way, we’re all happy in the end.
- We successfully maintain 100% customer return rate and we are extremely proud that all the customers we have worked with remain with us and see us as partners in future projects.
Projects from data-driven industries open the door for us to other more traditional industries where there is less talk about Big Data and AI projects. Not because there is a lack of opportunities in these industries—there are a lot of them—but mainly because there is a lack of awareness and internal knowledge on how to carry out such projects on their own. One such industry is, interestingly, the manufacturing industry, where the use of data is quite modest, but with proper use it enables great improvements and a very fast return on investment.
5. What is your recipe for getting new clients?
There is no recipe. But we have so many great examples of good practices, a lot of experience across industries, as well as an understanding of clients’ challenges and the market. It is difficult to predict the perfect time for big moves, so proactivity on our part is necessary to make the client aware that we are ready when they are. In the second phase, empathy and understanding is a must. In the end, the element of trust is also very important, and when a client sleeps better at night because of our solution, that’s a win-win for us.
6. Which industries in Slovenia are still reserved towards AI projects?
All industries in Slovenia were once in this phase. I can say that fintech, together with the lottery and insurance companies, has been making positive use of data for a while now, enabling better positioning on the market, more efficient management of processes and increased competitiveness. On the other hand, Slovenian manufacturing companies and the energy sector are still on the threshold of entering the Big Data World and are bravely taking the first steps while looking for effective solutions. Of course, in this first phase, they must find an experienced partner.
7. Your final thought, what would you like to share with our readers?
Big Data and AI are not plug-and-play projects. With the development of technology, it is possible to see more and more platforms that try to offer generic solutions. Unfortunately, such solutions do not bring good results. That's why we encourage and want to show everyone to look for Big Data and AI solution providers outside of traditional platform providers. The success of AI projects is extremely dependent on the quality of the data and also on the experience of the provider. Experience, credibility and speed can only be achieved through experience. If the provider does not have strong references, it is irrational to expect that they can provide a successful project.
The interview with Bojan Miličić was conducted by Viktor Brajak, COO.