Branko Milikic is the Founder and CEO of WolkAbout Technology, a company focused on the development of a product and tools which enable the building of digital solutions. We spent an inspiring afternoon with him during one of his visits to Brno.
What motivated you to start a business in the IoT domain?
Four years ago, I had a problem with high electricity and heating bills in my home, and I couldn’t find a quality sensor system that would help me with my energy savings. Since I was the CEO of a software development company at the time, I asked my colleagues if we could develop our own solution. It all began with their answer: “Let’s give it a try”. In a nutshell, I came up with an idea on how to build a product that would help me in my home. Eventually, this idea evolved from a product into the new company.
How would you define the Internet of Things?
“Let’s take all the good stuff from the computing world and use it in our everyday life” could be the definition. Connecting all things around us to the Internet enables us to benefit from data processing power and speed of the modern era. It is a difficult task that we should take seriously.
How do people perceive the Internet of Things?
IoT is a new industry, and people are usually afraid of new things. However, there is no doubt it will bring positive changes not only to the companies but everyday life as well. Digital transformation is not just about reducing costs and saving money; it’s about new business models and high-quality products people wouldn’t have access to without the use of new technologies.
Why are people still sceptical?
Based on my experience, people are often sceptical about the return on investment. They believe they won’t have enough benefits from digital solutions to cover their costs and withstand the initial investment. However, it is evident that digitally transformed companies are witnessing the pay-off of their investments. Sensors and connectivity are becoming cheaper every day, technology is getting faster, so I’m sure we’re heading in the right direction.
What is the first step a company should take?
For me, innovation is a success per se! I don’t think that companies specialised in IoT should sell innovation. It should rather be present in the companies leaning towards digitally transforming their businesses. The IoT vendors should be there only to enable the technical realisation of innovative ideas. For example, cities that want to provide a better quality of life for their citizens through better transportation, water or heating systems, should have a clear idea of what they want and how they want it. Only after they devise a plan should they connect with different IoT vendors and see if their idea is feasible. I’m sure that this is the basis of a proper relationship between the organisations and the IoT companies. Sooner or later, this type of relationship will lead to success. It would be wrong to expect IoT companies to bring innovations into their clients’ strategies.
Do you agree that companies should be showing an active interest in the digital transformation?
Of course. It was easier back in the past. In London, for example, some bookstores have been operating for over one hundred years. I doubt that any new business would last for so long, given the fierce competition. The lives of enterprises are becoming increasingly shorter, so they are forced to do something more. If you want to survive on the market, you should be fast and offer added value. You must be innovative to keep the market share, differentiate yourself from the rest and pull ahead of the competition.
What is yet to come in the world of Internet of Things?
IoT is the industry in its infancy. I have recently spoken with the CIO of Lufthansa, a company which has introduced a lot of digital solutions during the last few years. He asked me if I consider myself an expert in the IoT field. I said I don’t. He said the same thing, even though both of us have five or more years of experience in this field. No one knows what the future of the IoT holds and where it is heading, but we undoubtedly know that the experience solely will bring greater accuracy and better results. It’s not just about profit; it’s about experimenting with digitalisation and coming up with innovative business models.
*This article was created in the cooperation with Sindiko and was originally published in the Takeplace online magazine.