Išek: Combis Became an Agile Company Last Year
Croatian company Combis has a good streak of three years in which they have achieved record breaking results. What is the reason for such a success, what is happening in the company at the moment and what will the future bring are some of the questions we've asked Hrvoje Išek, Combis CEO.
How would you evaluate business performance in 2018 and what do you expect in 2019?
I am extremely proud of colleagues in Combis for achieving another, third in a row, record business year with a double-digit revenue growth. I thank everyone in our team for all the hard work and engagement, sometimes for the headaches also, but without all afore mentioned, we would not be here.
I really have to point out another thing: I am proud of my colleagues for the impressive results, but above all, I admire them for their numerous personal qualities - aside from being top professionals, they are also fantastic people, resourceful, smart and creative, with whom is a pleasure to work with. I don’t think that is the case in every company.
In addition to all the typical challenges that follow the internal digital transformation, Combis became an agile company last year. We’ve changed the way we work, speeded up our processes, simplified the team collaboration. As a large company operating in a highly dynamic market where changes are daily occurrence, we must be as flexible as possible. For this type of business, two things are crucial - the mutual trust of all employees and effective communication.
We are led by the desire to innovate, we work having in mind that change is the only constant thing in this world, and we have learned that we cannot be 'in the box' and expect the results 'out of the box'. We have begun our year with the same mindset and with a redesign of visual identity. Also, for this year I expect further development of our innovative products, which will also be the topic of our upcoming Combis Conference in Vodice.
What your users expect from the implemented solutions, for which solutions is the highest demand and which business problems are they solving?
We focus on two technology spheres. The first is digital transformation of companies (Cloud, Big Data, digital infrastructure, IoT, managed services, excursor, contact centers, CRM and consulting services) while the second is digital workplace of the future. The world is changing rapidly, and technology strongly affects not only business but also people, so investing in a digital workplace is one of the key investments in sustainability and business growth. In the sphere of the digital workplace, we work on desktop computer virtualization, mobile device management and security, hardware as a service, and communication and collaboration services.
We have recently implemented our own Digital Workplace solution by connecting many digital platforms and tools in order to achieve greater productivity, communication and engagement of colleagues. Digital Workplace is our central place of collaboration, a place for accessing Office tools, which enables visibility of the most common documents and our own analytics, as well as place for company news, announcements, current projects and calendars. Digital Workplace is one of our solutions we have decided to implement first, and then, once we are convinced that it works seamlessly and is on an enviable level of customer experience, put it on the market.
Popular solution is a web application for automated procedures and remote access policies. Combis ARA (Automated Remote Access) solution allows remote access management, real-time tracking, remote access parameter modification, and automatic component configuration.
ManageMyOperations is an innovative system that combines business operations at the company level. Provides support to planning, execution, and supervision of all operational delivery of products, services, and projects.
I would point out that this solution is one of the few available on the market, since it unites operational and financial processes, as well as provides support for real time managing contractual relations with business partners. We have implemented ManageMyOperations in Combis, achieved much more precise reach of user requests, and significantly reduced the amount of administration and data input.
Can you estimate amount of impact of machine learning, deep learning, AI at daily business?
Machine learning has become a buzzword, something like Big Data couple of years ago, everyone likes to mention it. While we are witnessing that AI technology, primarily through mobile devices and digital assistants, significantly simplifies life for consumers, we must be honest and admit that there are not many high-quality applications in technologies available to end users.
We are primarily focused on the use of machine learning that will be applied in our company as well as the scenarios related to the products we have or are still developing, where artificial intelligence can be used as an added value. For example, use of machine learning algorithms for identifying and analysing the causes of certain events related to manufacturing activities or using machine learning algorithms to analyse the cause of equipment malfunctions and predictive maintenance.
Consumer expectations about AI can be divided into several areas. First one is customer relationship improvement (chatbot), cost-efficiency enhancement (robotization) and creation of new business models (location-based services). Artificial intelligence is very interesting for Combis, so R&D department for AI is a separate unit that has a different focus and types of tasks than the rest of the company.
In what direction IoT solutions and service will be developed? Artificial sensors? Data collection and processing solutions?
IoT is, together with artificial intelligence, a part of technological area that will shape the future, but also leave a long-term trace, both on business and everyday life. It contains three main components: devices, connectivity and software for collecting and processing data from sensors. Combis develops a network of partners who produce and implement sensor solutions (some solutions are implemented by us), using all the relevant connectivity methods from data protocols to the latest LPWAN technologies that are just taking a swing. Business areas for which Combis offers solutions are energy and water consumption monitoring, water supply monitoring and water loss monitoring, together with other solutions based on IoT technology platform.
Security is an indispensable topic for a long time. What are your plans on this area?
Cyber threat protection is a prerequisite for the digital transformation of every company. Those who think they can’t be a target of hackers attack just fool themselves. In the world of IT security, there are two types of companies – those who know have been attacked and those who have not yet realized that they have been attacked.
Due to these trends, Combis has developed managed cyber-security services for users, which includes both optimum technological solutions and, in addition, managed threat prevention services.
This means that the responsibility for optimizing cyber security protection in case of threat will be taken over by Combis security experts.
Otherwise, awareness of cyber security among users in Croatia is much higher than in previous years, but we realize that the investments and the realization of these are not optimal. The reason for this is the lack of cyber-sec competencies and not clear cyber-sec protection strategies. Lack of quality cyber-sec experts is a challenge for both companies and end users and will be more pronounced in the future. Likewise, I believe that in the future we will overcome the trend by which companies consume cyber-sec protection as a service rather than primarily investing in technology and solutions.