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Digital transformation – a new chance for Montenegrin economy growth

Interview with Marija Rašeta Vukosavljević

Digital transformation of business is a relatively new concept in the domestic market, which is currently much talked about, but still little known. What does it mean, how it can contribute to the sustainable development and growth of companies in the digital age and what are the steps for successful business transformation are the issues revealed by Marija Rašeta Vukosavljević, director of TeleGroup Montenegro. This company has been engaged in the integration of technologies and business for the quarter of a century and since 2013, it has helped business users Montenegro to connect, digitize, automatize and protect their business.

Companies all over the world, including Montenegro, are confronted with the challenges of digital transformation. What does it really mean and what is the biggest challenge that companies face in the 21st century?

– It is true that digital transformation is a relatively new concept in the domestic market, which is much talked about and really little known about or, better said, has its essence understood. People often put a sign of equality between digitization and digital transformation which is incorrect and could put companies in the wrong path as a result. By introducing an ERP or CRM system, you have not transformed your business, but you have improved the way you work to a certain extent and automatized certain processes, which is, in its essence, the digitization process. On the other hand, a multilayered process that involves adjusting your company’s business model to a digital age in which is interaction with the client and creating value for the user, I will dare to say, digital transformation. Somebody would say what kind of change it is in terms of work compared to ten or twenty years ago since it’s logical that users have always been in the foreground?! According to experience, the difference is huge. We live in a world in which the user dictates the game – wants the best possible service or product at the optimal price with the greatest possible comfort of consumption. User reviews on our products and services have a much greater impact on the public than the advertisement of the brand itself. In order to survive, it is necessary to create this new value for the user. Companies often admire their own products and think that the success so far is guaranteed and therefore will not want to change anything in their business. Because of this kind of thinking and business based on the principles of the economy of the past century, companies risk their survival. Is there a bigger challenge?!

What are the most important steps for successful business transformation? Do companies need help in this process or can they can deal with that by themselves?

– There is no universal manual to become a modern company from a conventional one in a few steps. In this process, one of the most important things is the ability of companies to create a new value for the user, to quickly change in accordance with the features of the modern market and to test their ideas through continuous communication with users, because they are the applicable for verifying ideas, whether that it is about creating a new product, service, or a new way of delivering it. Many business theorists will say that only startups can make tectonic disturbances on a global scale on the market. However, the facts deny them. There are many good examples of companies that arised in the pre-digital era, and they understood the rules of a new market game on the time, such as General Electric, Toyota or, let’s say, the Britannica. At the right moment, they began the process of transforming the business model so that the user, who was getting more demanding under the auspices of digital technologies, would provide additional value for the money invested. This process is not easy. It is most difficult to change people’s awareness in the organization. On this path, the mentioned companies had the help of consultants whose task was to revive the entrepreneurial mindset, the one who brought them success at the beginnings of their work. Today, within the TeleGroup system, we have an innovation team which is consisted by certified consultants for digital transformation. Our mission is to help companies, regardless of size and activity, to provide new growth paths through innovating products, services or a complete business model that is in line with the principles of the economy of the 21st century. We believe this is a chance for the growth of domestic economy.

Digital technologies are the driving force of innovation. How much is the Montenegrin IT market current in terms of monitoring technological trends and introducing innovations and what is its position in relation to countries of the region?

– As in the case of the most of the countries, Montenegro’s IT scene is directly dependent on economic conditions, so it can be said that in Montenegro, with a little delay, services are developed and provided at the regional level. With the development of the economy and its need for further progress, the domestic IT sector is working on innovation of its own offer and develops tools that will enable companies to work more efficiently while simultaneously reducing operating costs. However, far more support is needed by the state in terms of creating formal prerequisites most from the aspect of regulation, in order to enable undisturbed work of organizations within the framework of digital economy. If you look at what has happened in China in the last 10 to 15 years, if you look at the economic growth achieved through services driven by modern technology platforms, it is clear to that it is a time that gives a chance to everyone to make a revolution. Because, according to Erik Rice, innovation is not reserved for some selected circle of people, it is not rare case that the ideas that change the world hide in the most unexpected places.

In particular, Montenegro has high-quality technological companies and records growth in the domestic IT sector, but on the other hand faces a serious lack of professional personnel. Our talented IT professionals from all profiles go abroad greatly, where they are offered by much better conditions, not only for earnings, but also professional development. One of the ways for domestic IT industry to make a progress and retain quality people is the development of its own innovative products that will have a greater share in overall growth compared to outsourcing services. It is a creative part of the job because of which the youth is leaving and which can bring companies immensely success, but mere production by order certainly does not. That is why we are happy that there are innovative technological startups in Montenegro that are trying to make that difference. Also, concrete support is needed both from state and economy in order to make development of the domestic startup ecosystem and young people to get a chance to do great things in the country where they are born. One of the positive examples is the Association of Montenegrin Managers, which through all its activities and especially through the Digital Transformation Committee, tries to affirm innovation and a new perspective of business in order to achieve more all together.         

Through the development of IPTV platform and innovative TV applications, TeleGroup has demonstrated that telecommunication operators can provide sustainable development in the digital economy era in which the ultimate user dictates the game. What kind of innovation is it?

– I will give you an example of a telecom operator in the region that decided to expand its portfolio and offer enhanced IPTV services to maintain a leading position in the target market. What have we innovated? We worked on innovating services in the field of digital television. First, we responded to the primary user request and implemented the latest IPTV multiscreen platform that allows consumers to watch video on any smart device. However, in that process we went a step further. Together with their video team, we have thought about video services that would make them more competitive than other operators in the region. After a thorough analysis of the current situation on the market of IPTV services in the region, the ability to experiment and quickly test new ideas, we have developed innovative TV applications that allowed the citizens to surf their favorite social media on a regular TV, to buy TV packages and modify subscription models from the couch without going to the office, record and watch missed TV content up to 72 hours back, have video store, mosaic channels, follow the news and favorite sports forecasts and other similar things that the user is used to with his smart device and now the same great multimedia experience wants on the TV. As a result, our client got a constant increase in the number of new users, so we, as a technology partner, completely responded to requests and helped create this new value for the user.

Cyber ​​crime is a topic of much talked about and we agree that it is a serious challenge for the world’s largest companies. Hacker attacks are happening more often and the impression is that companies in the digital era are seriously facing the challenge of preserving the security of their information systems and storing data. How can TeleGroup respond to these challenges?

Information security in the 21st century is facing an enormous challenge. Motives for attacks are becoming more numerous and how hackers get to the data and how to use them to realize their interests are more and more creative and innovative. And despite black statistics and publicly available data on how many economies all over the planet are losing due to unauthorized system intrusions, there are still many companies in the region that do not invest in protecting their business. People are misled and think, it will not happen to us, unaware that, at the same moment as this thought is passing through their heads, hackers are thoroughly drilling their email or websites or business applications. We as a connoisseurs fight against attacks daily but we are not a global corporation. I point out this because of the small and medium-sized enterprises that are irresponsibly related to this reality. We live in a connected world and preventive security strategy is the first and most important step that every smart company undertakes. So this is the first thing that we work on with users – we make it from the zero or we bring current cybersecurity strategy to the level of today’s framework. After that, we are designing and implementing “cybersecurity” solutions that will drastically reduce security risks and provide maximum protection at the level of the user’s network, data and most importantly the applications, since the greatest risk is currently hiding there – in the world of business applications.

No one, absolutely nobody can guarantee that you will fully protect your business by completely using the most modern technological tools. Unfortunately, along with technology development there are growing security risks that need to be understood and have the ability to manage them.

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