This time, we’re joined by Andrej Kotar, Smart Society Business Lead based in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Andrej contributes his extensive IT experience, leadership skills, and passion for driving solutions that benefit society as a whole – in his Slovenian home and with our clients worldwide.
So good to have you, Andrej. What has brought you into the area of smart society?
For years, I had been working with the Slovenian government and the public sector, and I was also active in the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, when the smart specialisation strategy was developed, the main purpose of which is to accelerate the creation of value chains. And the condition for this is the construction of an ecosystem for the cooperation of government, companies, and local communities. I took over management of the programme council of the smart city partnership – suddenly, we were in dialogue with decision-makers at the national and EU level, positioning Slovenia as a reference country in the field of smart society...
What has been the biggest innovation since you have been working in the industry?
The first thought would be the internet or AI. But the biggest innovation for me is the one that has the widest impact on social change and on the pace of technological change we are witnessing – which is everything that removes barriers to communication. A global standardisation – any effective, formal or informal standards of data exchange, data spaces, service interfaces, interoperability mechanisms. The internet, for example, was born as a global standardisation of IT communication.
Without standardisation, communication between devices and also between people is curtailed; so, cooperation is also curtailed. An important part of innovation are technologies for conversions between standards, including automatic translation between different languages – natural and technological ones. Only with the successful communication and cooperation of all mankind do we get truly breakthrough technologies leading to a truly global digital economy.
And what is the biggest challenge or opportunity you are seeing, and what should businesses be doing to prepare for this?
An opportunity to build an efficient global digital economy where everyone can offer their services globally, without barriers. A new model of digital economy is emerging in Europe that will become global. The key are the standards. This is a huge opportunity for businesses as a new, single European and global market for the digital economy emerges. Businesses should be alert as many of the existing business models will be and are already being disrupted in a wide range of domains, from mobility, energy, healthcare, industry, to education and others.
What is the project you’ve been part of that you are most proud of and why?
All projects that have had a great impact on the successful operation of society as a whole. In the COVID pandemic, as a partner of the Slovenian government, we developed solutions that upheld the functioning of society and the economy despite lockdowns and other challenges. From the patient portal in healthcare, to participation in the EU COVID certificate project, solutions for efficient communication between state administration, individuals, and legal entities, the implementation of urgent government measures, such as tourist vouchers and others…
On the flip side, what is the project or technology that challenged you the most and where you had some setbacks? What did you learn from this?
Unsuccessful projects in general – they were unsuccessful because we did not identify all stakeholders and addressed their interests. Above all, it is necessary to identify who would be worse off than before with the success of the project and to address these kinds of risks.
Let’s move on to a few more personal questions, okay? What topic could you give a 20-minute presentation on without any preparation?
I could talk about mountain biking with an e-bike. Well, not just talk…
If you were not working as a Smart Society Business Lead at Endava, what would you be doing instead?
I find it very relaxing and fulfilling to keep a relatively complex system, such as a motorboat, in good shape. Probably, I would open a boat maintenance and repair shop.
If you could go back in time and visit any historic period, where – or rather when – would you go?
I would go sailing westwards with Christopher Columbus. My immediate thought now was to just go sailing.
Finally, would you share a favourite quote with us to send our readers off with some inspiration?
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
Big thanks to Andrej for sharing his insights and working on creating a smarter society for all of us. Stay tuned for more insights into the work and life of Endavans in the next part of our Meet the SME series!