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Viktor Brajak, COO: We build long-lasting connections with our clients

Viktor, hi. Let’s start at the beginning, 20 years ago, when the company Medius was founded. What changed to this day?

Back then I was still in high school and the company was founded by Peter in Estera (Brajak). Peter was the idea guy, some sort of IT visionary, and he became the face of Medius. I started working at Medius over summer as an enthusiastic student and I remember that a few coworkers who are still part of the team today gave me my first assignments, most of which included programming in Java. From a technological viewpoint, we have stayed true to ourselves, we still use open-source applications but we have grown along with technological innovations and expanded our circle of competence. Especially in the last few years when there’s been a lot of talk about data being the new gold, we saw this as the right direction for the company and decided to move forward. We are always working hard to ensure that the enterprise applications we develop bring added value to our clients, not just in terms of functionality, but also that they properly process data and create value from it, which was out of our reach just a couple of years ago.

So a lot has changed but our mission to keep clients satisfied stayed the same. It may sound a bit cliché, but our idea was never to expand excessively or grow too quickly, our focus has always been to actually maintain the customer satisfaction at the highest level. I would like to mention that we’ve had a 100% client return rate for the last 20 years, which shows just how serious we are about building long-lasting connections with our clients. This means that practically everyone that has ever worked with Medius stayed with us for more than one project.

Viktor Brajak, COO, Medius

Did the company adapt to the market needs or did you always know exactly where you were going?

A bit of both. The world of IT is becoming more and more complex and so are our projects. Companies used to have one monolithic application, but the evolution of technology, computer science, and the needs of end users resulted in the use of dozens or hundreds of internal applications. This made the maintenance, processing and storage of data a much more difficult task.

At one point the ecosystems became a hundred times more complicated than before, but luckily we finally had the option of collecting and processing data, which was not possible before. That's why I think everything happened very spontaneously, but not by coincidence, because we were actively monitoring the market and the needs of our clients. We started to guide our clients toward data collecting and processing, which they could later put to good use, and at the same time, they approached us with the ambition to start actively using their data. We helped them build the architecture which can effectively manage the complex systems they had already used.

What kind of companies are searching for data analytics solutions—is it only tech companies or other industries as well?

IT used to be a support service in organizations, but, as Peter likes to say, today almost every business is in its essence an IT business, even though it does not offer IT services.

Our clients come from industries where the awareness of technological solutions has always been at a high level (telecommunications, lottery, etc.) , but there are industries that realized this potential only in recent years. The production industry for example realized that it’s possible to update its production lines. Robots, computers and machines used to work individually, but they can now combine into a system which captures data from different sources to increase its total efficiency.

Let’s talk about your clients. What kind of people are you talking to, did anything change throughout the years?

I think that the level of innovation was always high at Medius and we always aimed to understand, educate and help our clients—which is still the case today. Now there is a lot of talk about machine learning and artificial intelligence, which are extremely complex topics, so our role is to help them understand how such solutions work and then show them how it can benefit their business.

But it has always been like that, only the challenges in technology changed. For example, we used to explain what open source means, because at the time most people only knew certain license programs—and now we’re talking about unsupervised learning! This way our clients understand the terms and the concepts, which means that everything is easier for us. We don’t want to be a black box solution where the client doesn’t even know what they’re getting, we want the client to understand the product, so they can help us build it and use it to their best advantage. If we knew everything there is to know about all the industries in the world, then we could offer this kind of solution (i.e. black box), but because we are not, we always develop products together with our clients. When it comes to technology, we teach our clients, and when it comes to content, they teach us. That’s how we grow together.

You are present in different industries, is this a challenge or an advantage?

It’s a psychological advantage, for sure, because it makes us smarter and motivates us. People who work at Medius are motivated by technological challenges and because of that we want to work with different industries and acquire a wide array of knowledge, which in turn makes our work interesting and diverse. We know that every week brings new challenges to tackle, which I see as an advantage because it gives us the know-how that we can then use across multiple industries. If we learn something in the field of telecommunications, it might come in useful on our insurance projects and vice versa.

How do you deal with projects that are out of your comfort zone considering that you don't yet have that knowledge?

This is a frequent question that our clients and potential partners from new industries ask us when we first meet. Precisely through experience, through the knowledge we have acquired, we know how to recognize various problems within industries, which at the end of the day are universally present. Even if we do not know the specific industry in detail, we can quickly recognize the key patterns and challenges.

It is also important that we try to surround ourselves with clients who advise us and help us gain that knowledge. This does not mean that they have extra work with us—it is, however, best to start the projects with the analysis phase where we try to learn about the client, which is done with help of people on the client's side and our analytics. We try to understand their business operations, processes and pain points in detail, and with that we get the roadmap of our cooperation.

Does this mean that the understanding of the challenges is not a problem?

That’s right because we devote a lot of time to pre-preparation and getting to know the problem. We are a project-oriented and not a product-oriented company, our product is our knowledge and methodological approach, which results in quality services. We are constantly developing internal tools that we can use on various projects, and we are also trying to build those for clients. This is how our versatile solutions are born, for example. A platform for processing large amounts of data, like our Gamayun, can be used regardless of the industry.

Our goal is to build an architecture that easily fits into the existing IT ecosystem and enables the company to quickly start working with data and obtain useful, actionable information from raw data. We do this through the analysis and understanding of a certain process and then use the feedback loop to improve the applications.

Clients are often reserved when choosing custom solutions because they are tied to specific staff. What happens when a team member changes?

We are probably a bit special in that because we are known for end-to-end solutions, which means that there’s ongoing knowledge-sharing within the company. Behind each application, there’s a team of experts that work with each other, share knowledge and follow the methodology and good programming practices. That means it’s very easy to include a new member in the project. This is another reason why we can always vouch for our work and guarantee the quality of our products.

How has the market changed in the last few years? What is happening in the field of digitalization?

I can talk mostly about the industries we work with. The concept of digitalization has a very broad meaning, from digital marketing to improving a digital experience. We specialize in working with large amounts of data as this type of digitalization represents the greatest added value for our clients. On the one hand, the covid crisis caused companies to lean more into digitalization, but at the same time, it became quite chaotic because companies jumped into digitalization of their operations and services without a strategy, practically overnight, which caused a lot of errors and dead ends.

These are also some of the challenges we’re solving today. There have been a lot of mergers and acquisitions, all of which often add complexity to information systems, which ultimately results in a poor user experience for end customers. Sometimes it’s good to take a step back and prepare a new strategy for the future.

Many companies are already aware that they are sitting on a large amount of data. What would be your advice to start using all this data?

First of all, don't be afraid. Data is not a thing of the future, it is a necessity. Everything starts with a structured collection of data, and last but not least, with some centralization of the data, so that they can later process the data in one place. They must also pay attention to security when processing data, as they can easily become a target for hackers. I suggest that they consult with experts, many companies offer such services. It is the perfect time for companies to enter the world of data processing and achieve results that they might have thought were not possible.

At what stage can Medius come to the rescue?

We can help them right from the start, by collecting data, as we do for most of our clients. If a company for example has 100 applications, each of them produces a certain amount of data, so we try to efficiently collect, analyze and process them and also offer useful information extracted from that data in real-time.

We start the projects with use cases which the client would like to solve. In the insurance industry, we try to detect fraud; for online shopping, it's customer segmentation in real-time; for some production systems, it's the detection of possible future outages. Once we determine the use case, we investigate what data we need, how and where we will capture it, and how much, and based on that we build artificial intelligence models.

How quickly can you bring the client to the point where the project will come to life?

Based on the already completed projects, I can say that the first positive results, which bring added value and are useful for the future, are obtained after 2-3 months.

Many young people would like to work in this field. Are you hiring?

We are currently hiring for various positions, from Java to web programmers, data engineers and data administrators, DevOps, data scientists, and even project managers. There are a lot of interesting opportunities and projects, that's why we are happy to meet with anyone who would like to join our team and shares our passion and vision for learning and building.

The interview with Viktor Brajak was conducted by Bojan Miličić, Head of Business Development and Sales.

Apply for a position at Medius: jobs@medius.si

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