Slovenians have technology in their blood

01. 02. 2023

Slovenians have technology in their blood

This was the welcoming sentence of Technology Park Ljubljana’s CEO, dr. Jernej Pintar to the participants of the ScaleUPgrade Techx conference.  The experts of the various panels agreed that it is necessary to overcome the fear of new technologies and stay up-to-date. And what are the main messages of the conference?

New technologies are already creating new possibilities for business and progress 

The experts dived into the core of new technologies and trends and presented the examples of how they can already be used in practice and what the future holds. 

Web3, Metaverse and AI 

A lecturer at the Faculty of Design and one of the most active members of the Web3 community, Martin Petrič, pointed out that new paradigms coming from the blockchain are coming in use in connection with the Internet. If Web2 marked an usage momentum in the development of the Internet, Web3 presents a milestone for the value of the Internet.

Web1 was intended for information and creation of interest groups, Web2 for communication and creation of target groups, and Web3 for co-management and community creation. 

He also highlighted the emerging importance of NFTs (non-fungible tokens), which create endless opportunities to explore business models. He pointed out the example of Alfa Romeo vehicles, for which NFTs were issued, which are tied to the chassis of the vehicle and use blockchain technology to store data about the vehicle, such as traffic accidents, services, etc. It is an indestructible and true record of vehicle data and prevents fraud. He adds that NFTs are ever more seen as a ticket/access to something. 

Borut Sočan from Reeba XR presented hot business opportunities in Metaverse. Metaverse offers an immersive experience for users in 3D space in the form of an avatar.

Companies can create presentation rooms for products with the seller avatars or they can create digital twins and show customers certain processes that they cannot see in person (for example, manufacture). 

We can also organize hybrid events in Metaverse, such as MetaCOP27, which was the accompanying event of the United Nations Climate Change Conference this year. It’s an opportunity for a large number of people to visit the event and also to reduce the carbon footprint. He added that the biggest challenge is the user experience, which must be great. 

Of course, there was also a lot to talk about the increasingly popular use of artificial intelligence, thanks to the emergence of the Chat GPT tool. The experts presented the various tools of artificial intelligence and the possibilities for its use like communication with customers, marketing, production lines, banking, analytics and many other areas.

According to Aljaž Seliškar from Direkta, the capabilities of artificial intelligence for very specific or even personalized customer targeting and real-time changes in sales funnels are exceptional and the human capabilities can no longer compete with them.

The panel participants agreed that it is necessary to overcome the fear of using new technologies and to educate the staff how to use artificial intelligence tools.

What tactics do online hackers use?

One of the panels was dedicated to a topic that almost companies do not pay enough attention to, and that is cyber attacks.

Experts in the field of "hacker tactics" presented specific examples of companies attacks and gave recommendations on how to avoid them. Online attackers mostly use tactics like sending e-mails about receiving deliveries or requesting order confirmation or even payment. Messages or e-mails are sent in the name of well-known companies such as Amazon, Pošta Slovenije, banks etc. 

With "corrupted" attachments or links, they can obtain personal information, online passwords, payment card information, cookies and other significant information.

You may even receive an "infected" message on behalf of your superior or co-worker requesting your personal data. If you receive an e-mail that seems suspicious or demands your personal data, pay attention to the sender, unusual email addresses, website extensions, poor quality photos. 

The experts recommended regular cyber security tests in companies, and above all, highlighted the meaning of staff awareness and education about the possibilities of online attacks. Every company should have a person in charge for reporting suspicious activity and to whom employees can turn for advice if they notice anything unusual.

You can watch the recording of the panel here

Customer Care Automation – Yes or No?

Due to the complexity of services and products, customers' needs for support are also increasing. To what extent has it already been automated and digitized and where are the pitfalls? 

Burcu Begič, Head of Customer Support at A1, says that the digitization of customer support is definitely on the rise, especially the use of chatbots. At the same time, it is also necessary to find the right ways to engage customers to use these new tools. They will always use the way where they get the fastest answer or help wit their issue.

She highlighted the importance of speed in solving customer’s problems. Domen Vidmar from XLAB said that they have introduced a support method where customers can find the solutions to their problems themselves, while trying to optimize the rest of their customer support as best as possible with different teams for different levels of support. 

Matt Mayfield, on the other hand, works in consulting with sales processes. He claims that it is necessary to define very precisely the time that the company spends on identifying customer problems and solving them. Support must be effective, without same answers on different channels like the website and in the chatbot. If a customer gets the same answer everywhere and it doesn’t solve his problem it is going to frustrate him.

Burcu Begič adds that compared to foreign markets, Slovenian customers are extremely critical and demanding and will quickly replace you with your competition if they are not satisfied. 

You can watch the recording of the panel here.

Scale-up Alchemy: Structure and a Positive vibe are important 

At this long-awaited panel, where representatives of successful Slovenian scale-ups shared their experience, we heard many interesting stories from their journey, but above all we got an insight that courage, persistence and vision are the most important things on the entrepreneurial path. 

Klemen Šešok, who together with his brother took over the family company Iskra d.o.o. from their father seven years ago, said that everyone predicted their downfall. They didn’t fail, they succeeded greatly and today Iskra is the most valuable company in Slovenian and private ownership.

Klemen said that the most important factor of their success was micromanagement. They went into every pore of the company and optimized everything needed. 

Jakob Kotnik from the Sinecon company recommended to test your product in foreign markets, which will give you a more realistic picture. He pointed out that they are working a lot on customer feedback, a positive climate and building stable processes that will withstand their rapid growth. 

Andrej Lapajne from Zebra BI also emphasized the importance of a positive climate in the company, which he has been establishing all along. They had a typical startup beginning at his room at home with an exceptional focus on a good product.

They did not deal with formalities such as a business plan, they had only one guideline "Is it remarkable?" They wanted a product that was 10 times better than anything else on the market, because they believed it’s the only way to success.

In 9 years, they grew from 0 to 50 employees, and despite the structured processes they established over the years, they are still maintaining the agility. Andrej also strongly recommends testing products on foreign markets. 

It is not too late to join Tik Tok

At the conference, we also talked about extremely popular and trendy social network Tik Tok, which is already available in 150 countries. It has more than a billion monthly users, 60 percent of whom are members of Generation Z.

We talked to the experts about the trends, what works and what they recommend. They agreed that it is certainly not too late to enter Tik Tok for all those companies that are not yet using this platform. Despite its young users, it is also suitable for more serious companies that have the opportunity to build their brand of a trustworthy company. 

Jure Laharnar from Buzzvers pointed out the well-known rule on Tik Tok: "Be a Brandon, not a Brand", which means that the content should include a person with whom the followers can connect and not just about the brand as such. 

Luka Čižmek from the orthodontic practice OrthoDental advises that if you decide to work with an influencer, it should choose an expert in your field. If you run out of ideas for content, you can always ask your followers what they would like to see or learn and then provide them with that content. 

Klavdija Zimmer from Hooray Studios talked about their phenomenon of "crying daddies" in Americas market, which due to the emotional component of their personalized books, brought them the high number of views.She says that Tik Tok is a much cheaper platform for advertising as the others, so it is definitely worth it. And the content they create for Tik Tok also works extremely well on Facebook and Instagram, while not the vice - versa. 

They all recommended to leave the managing of Tik Tok platform to representatives of younger generations, or at least consult with them regarding appropriate content.

Opportunities and Guidelines for selling on Amazon 

The conference participants had a chance to hear about the art of selling on Amazon, how to best optimize it, what are the types of commissions, about sales taxation, how to properly maneuver with stock, etc. 

Rok Hudoklin, strategic consultant for sales on Amazon at Domex d.o.o. says that the initial investment for stating to sell on Amazon is a six-figure number. The possibilities for shortcuts no longer exist.

Jaša Furlan from Sensilab said that it is definitely necessary to have the financial resources for 6 month’s stock and advertising. 

Predicting the Risks and Solutions for the future of Sustainable Agriculture with the help of Machine learning

This panel revealed the direction in which agriculture is moving with the support of new technologies that enable the protection of the environment. Pest control era in agronomy is behind us. The era of bionic plant protection is here, with the challenge to preserve and improve the quality of the soil, which is the basis for food production.

Very rare biologists study taxonomy and deterministics, so automatic determination through machine learning has an extraordinary perspective. Bug monitoring and forecasting is also an emerging niche. They are economically important pests that cause a lot of damage.

With the help of IT technology, they know the state of the pest population and what it will be like in the future. If we are talking about mixed cultures and large areas, this becomes an expensive and demanding problem. 

Startup plus programs and events of the Slovenian Entrepreneurial Fund were also presented to conference participants. 

We would like to thank all participating experts who shared their knowledge and experience on different panels, as well as all conference participants. We hope we provided a lot of useful information that you can incorporate into your future business. 

Good luck until the next one! 

The program is co-financed by the Slovenian Enterprise Fund and the European Union, from the European Fund for Regional Development. It is implemented on the basis of the Substantive Support of Fund Recipients (SME) program in the period from 2018 to 2023 within the framework of the Operational Program for the Implementation of the European Cohesion Policy in the period from 2014 to 2020.