Place yourself in the centre of your data yourself in the centre of your data<p>​​In May 2022 Petr Štros gave ​an interview to <a href="">CIO​ Business World​</a> telling what's in the store at Cleverlance.  ​​​​​​</p><p> <strong>​​Since 2019, Cleverlance has been part of a group of technology companies united under the Aricoma brand. The original plans were that you would build a large international organization, ready for expansion into foreign markets. How is this vision being fulfilled?</strong></p><p>​This is a huge and key topic for us.<br>The goal of making the company a European technology supplier has not changed at all. We are standing on the threshold of great things, of which Cleverlance will be a significant part.<br><br><strong>What does building a European supplier mean to you?</strong><br><br>There are a lot of American and Asian providers on the market but really big European players are missing.<br><br><strong>Do you mean with the EU flag?</strong></p><p>​​​​​​​​​No, with the European flag. We want to have the flag of Europe, but to do business worldwide,  to be proud that we are from Europe. In the United States, for example, Europe is still considered a mark of quality, so why not take advantage of that? Today we are at the beginning of our European journey. There are currently around three and a half thousand of us in Aricoma, we want to grow at least threefold, only then will we be big enough to operate in the European context. For me personally, it is interesting to take part in it, to give meaning and contours to the expansion. The target customer is Europe, it is our home address, we certainly will not even resist exporting our services to other continents.<br></p><p> <strong>Why is it so important for the growth of a company to be part of a large international group?</strong></p><p>Our business is connected to digitization, which has two parts – customer and delivery. The delivery part is problematic all over the world due to the lack of people who would be able to deliver all the required services within the framework of digitization. It is no longer possible to do it with just one company from the Czech Republic and Slovakia.<br>That is why we are part of Aricoma and why we opened branches in Germany and Spain. We need to expand our options. But even there, of course, we have problems finding skilled people at a reasonable price who will fit into our company culture. And we need a lot of them.<br><br>Many of our potential customers in Europe and around the world are really large and as such expect their partners and suppliers to be large companies as well. Cleverlance, even though we are huge with a thousand employees, is not big enough for them. Big companies simply don't like small ones, so Aricoma's size, when it grows to the strength of at least ten thousand employees, will be a springboard for us to new large international customers.<br><br><strong>So you're finally delivering on the strategy </strong><a href=""><strong>Cleverlance</strong></a><strong> was founded with? That it will be a company that will primarily serve the foreign market.</strong><br><br>Those were the original assumptions. But after the bursting of the dotcom bubble in 2000, we had to reorient ourselves to the Czech market. After a while Czech clients started asking us to go abroad with them on international projects. So we went beyond the borders again. We started to rebuild our positions on the German market. But nothing will ever change about the fact that the domestic market has become key for us and we'll never leave it, nor our Czech clients.<br><br><strong>Which foreign markets do you prefer?</strong><br><br>We are starting in Germany, we already have offices in Munich with salesmen and technicians, now we are trying Austria and eventually we will go to Switzerland. These countries suit us best with their mentality.<br></p><p> <strong>How does Spain, where you opened offices in April, fit into the expansion?</strong></p><p>Because we are looking for a solution to the critical talent shortage problem, and in addition to expanding our reach, we need English-speaking people. We looked around Europe and found an ideal place in Valencia that offers thousands of technically educated university students every year at a reasonable price, so it was an obvious choice for us. Let's hope it goes well. We want to have 20 people there within six months and 100 within a year, thereby starting a major expansion into Europe. Our goal is also tenders from the European Union.<br></p><p>But it is not easy to get such tenders. You have to go through a series of checks and tests, sign a framework contract with the European Union.<br><br>That's right, we've already gone through all that and we've been officially promised that we'll be one of the 8 companies that will sign such a contract with the European Commission. The contract will set barriers for the supply of services, people or technology for any European company that falls under the European Commission. The contract is for five years and the amount of money contracted is huge.<br><br>And this is also possible only because we are in <a href="">ARICOMA Group</a>, because one of the monitored elements was of course our size and stability, which Cleverlance alone would not be enough for, although our knowledge and capabilities are.<br><br><strong>So that contract gives you automatic access to European Commission contracts?</strong><br><br>No, it gives us the opportunity to participate in tenders for contracts from the European Commission, we will be able to apply for contracts in competition with the other seven companies that also have this framework contract. For the fact that we are actually only a Czech company in quotation marks, this is a phenomenal success.<br><br><strong>What are your expectations for the impact on </strong><a href=""><strong>Cleverlance</strong></a><strong>?</strong></p><p>We expect our turnover to triple at least within those five years.<br>Of course, we would grow even without the contract with the European Commission, but not nearly as fast.<br></p><p> <img src="/en/blog/PublishingImages/Pages/PST-interview/Petr%20Stros-7945.jpg" alt="Petr Stros-7945.jpg" data-themekey="#" style="margin:5px;" /> <br></p><p> <strong>Cleverlance is establishing itself very much in the digital economy service. What do you think is the situation in this area?</strong><br><br>The world simply needs <a href="">#digitization</a> or <a href="">#digitaltransformation</a>, it doesn't matter what buzzword we call it. For now, as a world, we are only in the initial phase of the next act of the digital future.<br><br>Undoubtedly, we need tools to build a digital environment that allows us to acquire and use data, communicate with third parties, and then work with all that knowledge. But there are so many of them that it is simply not humanly possible to process them all. Therefore, tools are created to process them, which tell you what you should do on the basis of this data, how you should behave, what to buy, what to sell... But even with automatic data processing, you are soon overwhelmed by the reduced outputs. There's just too much.<br><br><strong>And what can be done about it?</strong></p><p>Change the approach completely. From an attitude of machines telling us what to do, you need to move to a system that offers advice on how to do better what you think is good for your business.<br><br>Therefore, you or your systems must learn to take only the one tiny particle that interests you from the processed <a href="">#data</a> and continue to work with it. In a week you can take another part and alternate it as needed. As a customer, you have to put yourself at the center of your data and only get what you need and want, not be overwhelmed by the volume.<br><br>Today, however, it still essentially does not work that way. When that time comes, it will be very interesting. We want to be both a data platform supplier and a user when the system recognizes the customer's feelings in advance and offers him exactly what he needs.<br></p><p> <strong>What do you mean by that feeling? Do you mean his current business need?</strong></p><p>No, needs can already be found and satisfied by today's artificial intelligence or machine learning algorithms. But recognizing those feelings will be more girlish for the AI, we are only very slowly heading down a very difficult path there. No one even knows yet how to incorporate such an ability into algorithms. First, AI has to really be AI, and then all these things can be incorporated into it. The question is also whether AI will ever really reach a state where it will be intelligent.<br></p><p> <strong>What limits it today?</strong></p><p>Mainly hardware, when there are quantum computers, we will be in a different situation. Today we are really at the beginning of this journey.</p><p>And thanks to Aricoma, we can embark on that journey and work to create the future. Because the future of the digital economy does not end with building a platform for smart intelligence. An additional layer of blockchain will be needed on top of the AI layer.<br></p><p> <strong>How does blockchain fit into this?</strong></p><p>I'm not talking about cryptocurrencies, those are completely out of the question. I am referring to pure blockchain technology, which itself offers a safe, unassailable and trustworthy space. Trust is key in business, and so will blockchain in the future. And we are gradually trying to make these technologies available to our customers in the future.<br></p><p> <strong>How are you trying?</strong></p><p>We have our own blockchain research department where we test our stuff. It's really pure research, classic blockchain science. It is still early for practical use, it will take years. But without science, the future would not come. We are a technology company, and this is exactly the field for us.<br></p><p> <strong>When we talk about artificial intelligence, the European Union wants to regulate it in a fundamental way. How do you look at it?</strong></p><p>Now, if we set some frameworks for AI behavior, it's not entirely out of the question. I think that is correct, but it depends on the size of the playing field that the EU wants to define. It's a hard nut to crack, because we can't see into the future, it's hard to build future guardrails. If the playing field is too small, we won't be very competitive, if it's too big, there won't really be any regulation and it could happen that the whole thing gets over our heads.<br></p><p> <strong>Will Skynet or the Matrix come?</strong></p><p>I don't believe that AI will take over us, but it can go over our heads. We're not going to like that anymore, so we have to have some way to stop it. Let me give you an example for drivers - if you drive aggressively, such an overpowered AI will conclude<br>that you are dangerous to the environment and will stop you at every traffic light you meet on the road. Even if you calm down and drive sensibly, he will still run a red light just out of inertia, because you were simply a risky driver. You won't like that. Therefore, it is necessary to have the rules set in advance, and I note that I am not a fan of regulations. But in this area, you can't rely on everyone to self-regulate.<br></p><p> <strong>But won't such rules limit the competitiveness of European companies?</strong></p><p>I think the whole world will follow us in this, just like for example with GDPR. Everyone feared it as the scourge of mankind, and in the end nothing really happened.<br></p><p> </p><p> ​<br> </p>​<br>
Kolofix. A data-based story A data-based story<p>​​​Cycling has always been popular in the Czech Republic. Over one in three Czechs enjoy the sport, and that number is only growing. Despite this popularity, however, most people only think about bicycle maintenance when winter is over and it’s time to pull the bikes out again. Suddenly bike repair shops are flooded with customers and booked solid for two months, which can sound like an eternity when the sun is shining right now.<br></p><p>But what if someone offered short wait times and a technician who comes to you? That is exactly what Kolofix does. This successful Czech bike repair chain proves how technology and digitization can bring benefits in perhaps unexpected areas. The digitized Kolofix reservation system was created by a development team from Cleverlance. Customers go to the Kolofix website or app and choose the service they need and the branch they prefer. They can either take the bicycle in themselves, have a Kolofix employee come pick it up, or request a technician to come and do the repair offsite. Kolofix’s mobile repair shop can go to customers anywhere.<br></p><p>The reservation system gives customers a set time, date and price according to the service price list. The system instantly connects customers with a technician and checks for spare part availability, which significantly cuts down wait times and ensures that customers pay the same price for the same service each time.​<br></p><p>The reservation app is highly effective and successful in its field. Even the global pandemic has not slowed the extraordinary interest in this fusion of the digital and sports world, and the company is currently planning to expand to Slovakia. Those plans have been put on hold for the moment, however, due to the shortage in bicycle parts currently affecting the entire cycling world.<br></p><br><br>
How can VR training work in a bank? can VR training work in a bank?<p>​​​​Virtual reality is predominantly associated with the gaming industry, but nowadays interesting VR projects can be found even in t​he business segment. Following this trend can be worthwhile for several reasons. In addition to the substantial marketing potential, innovations in this area might save money, make processes more efficient and add a whole new dimension to how tasks, projects and the company as such is perceived.<span style="color:#696158;font-size:14px;">​</span></p><div><p>We experienced this first hand in Česká spořitelna, a bank from the Erste Group​ – after a virtual branch, their “tribe Assisted channels” decided to use this 3D model in action and asked us at Cleverlance to help create training for operating the cash registers in VR. This is a historically first virtual reality training in the Česká spořitelna.​<br></p><p><img src="/de/blog/PublishingImages/Articles/CreateIt/VR_CS.jpg" data-themekey="#" alt="" style="margin:5px 0px;" />What are the advantages of this new method? The training combines gaming elements (just like Johann Amos Comenius used to say: Learning through play) and the immersion principle, when the students can fully immerse into the subject, it feels like they are trying it out themselves, even though it’s just in virtual reality. Trainers at Česká spořitelna chose this new training format for sections of the course that are historically the most challenging for the students, are hard to explain on a piece of paper, and where passive observing (e.g., on a video) is not enough to automate the process. This part is very important, though. Operating the cash register in a bank is subject to strict ČNB regulations, which is why individual training modules also have higher requirements. Students can for example practice deposits, withdrawals, checking notes, closing or balancing the cash register. The fact that the training takes place in an environment that is identical to the actual environment of Česká spořitelna helps to ingrain individual processes and reduces the error rate of cashiers in real work situations.</p><p>Česká spořitena uses the app within courses taught by a lecturer, when the students can experience most of the tasks first hand using VR and then repeat these processes until they become ingrained. This can also be done for less frequent scenarios using the “tutorial” module.  The testing module then verifies how much the student has learned – the test meets the parameters required by the internal regulations of Česká spořitelna and ČNB. Another great benefit is the remote training function which is planned to be added in the future. Thanks to this, students won’t need to travel to the headquarters in Prague or Brno; all they will need is a pair of VR glasses with updated software. This saves not only money but also time. Lecturers become guides that help students understand the subject and provide a professional framework for the training, but they don’t need to be present during each routine trial, which bring additional significant savings.<br></p><p>The first training sessions took place in June 2020. The interest among ČSAS employee was enormous and the training sessions were booked out almost immediately. And the program is still continuously being developed.<br></p></div>
We can handle a Mongolian James Bond can handle a Mongolian James Bond<p>​​​Foxconn is a huge international company with roots in Taiwan and branches all over the world. It has millions of employees and is represented in many countries. The Foxconn branch in the Czech Republic employs about 500 people. It is to this particular branch that we supplied our application for coordinating employees working on orders. For many years, Czech Foxconn managed to dynamically react to clients’ order focusing on the creation of complete IT solutions, as well as production of individual parts for different equipment.  Day-to-day coordination of people and production lines and their adjustments for the currently manufactured parts and specific technological parameters represent not only a logistics challenge, but also a potential source of stress. However, Foxconn does its best to care for its employees, which is why it decided to create a mobile application with an easy-to-navigate and efficient overview of shifts. It was discovered that almost all employees of Foxconn in Pardubice use Android phones, so the choice of this platform was an easy one.<br></p><h2>Let’s get started</h2><p>​​All that was needed was to specify the instructions, tweak the priorities and expectations from the project, propose a concrete solution, and create wireframes and graphics of the whole application. Developing on such a foundation is a piece of cake. We have to highlight the professional approach of Foxconn towards the whole project. While Cleverlance was developing a mobile app, Foxconn took care of the server part of the project. It was a prime example of what cooperation between two companies during agile development should look like.​<br></p><p>So what can the new app do? It provides coordination of people on specific workspaces for each shift, recording absences and days off, an easy-to-navigate calendar of shift, as well as automatic notifications.</p><p><img src="/de/blog/PublishingImages/Articles/CreateIt/foxconn.png" data-themekey="#" alt="" style="margin:5px 0px;" />Surprisingly the biggest challenge was not of technical nature, but linguistic: in Foxconn in Pardubice you will hear a lot of foreign languages. The company cooperates with the Center for Integration of Foreigners for the Pardubice region and organizes multicultural weeks as well as celebrations of the Lunar New Year for employees from Asian regions. This meant that coordinating with employees was not only a logistic but also a linguistic challenge. In addition to the usual Czech and English languages, we needed to add Mongolian and let’s face it, there aren’t that many people fluent in Mongolian here. The translator not only had to find the corresponding Mongolian expressions but also a way to fit the translations into the application design – and apparently, they did a great job.<br></p><h2>Spies and us</h2><p>The world of large businesses is associated with large risks that you need to protect yourself against. Foxconn is an ever-growing company and if they want to keep this trend going, they need to actively protect themselves against industrial espionage. It might seem funny to some, imagining a secret agent whose mission is to find out when Mrs Johnson has to get up for work on Wednesday. However, the leaking of know-how and other sensitive company data represents a real threat. This is why the internal applications for coordination of shifts had to have good security to ensure only persons registered at Foxconn CZ can access them.<br></p><p>Developing this app for Foxconn made us think about efficient planning and about spies, for example from Mongolia. However, judging from the client’s satisfaction, we can say we did a good job.​<br></p><p>Furthermore, the cooperation with Foxconn was pleasant for everyone involved. We enjoyed a privilege that we don’t get with most projects: knowing the approximate number of users and being able to test the app with them directly. Such user testing is not possible in some situations, namely for bank applications where the number of users can be hundreds of thousands or even millions. Here we could gradually work on the app to tailor it to the needs of the employees and provide them with a truly customized internal system.<br></p>
A Škoda can be purchased in just a single click Škoda can be purchased in just a single click<p>​​​​Just a few weeks ago Škoda Auto became a pioneer in the online sale of cars. The first European e-shop in which you can really buy a car online was created by Škoda Auto in cooperation with Cleverlance. This was definitely not an easy job – even just the integration into other systems was quite a challenge.<span style="color:#696158;font-size:14px;">​</span></p><div><p>If you were ever involved in a project of this magnitude, then you know that not everything always goes according to plan. Being able to order a new Škoda car with just a click of your mouse is undoubtedly a great success of the joint effort of the developers and is a break-through moment on the European car market. While this is something many car manufacturers can only dream about, Škoda Auto managed to make this dream come true.<br></p><p><img src="/de/blog/PublishingImages/Articles/CreateIt/skodaonline_uvod.jpg" data-themekey="#" alt="" style="margin:5px 0px;" />The <a href="">Škoda Online​</a> platform has access to stocks, meaning that the configuration that the customer chooses, i.e., the type, color and equipment, will be in the actual car that they are going to pick up – perhaps as early as in two weeks. The cars are provided via operating lease, i.e., they are not sold but in fact leased in this globally popular way. The purchase of a car as we know it from car dealerships will be the next development step of online sale. Since the system's launch in December, it became clear that the online shop customers are in average 15 years younger than traditional clients of Škoda. Younger customers do a lot of things differently and they want to do everything online, including buying a car.<br></p><p>The offered vehicles need to be reserved while the order is being created, reservations made by clients who are not interested in finalizing the purchase, however, must not block all the stock reserves. Personal delivery of the vehicle to the client’s home is also available, including the option to choose the date of pick-up or delivery.<br></p><p>One of the obstacles that needed to be overcome was integration into the system of orders and vehicle stocks. All strict requirements of Škoda Auto on security, performance and infrastructure, which are significantly above the usual standards, have been met. With regards to these requirements of Škoda Auto it was necessary to make changes to the payment gate, and before the online sale launched it was also necessary to make technical and procedural adjustments on both sides of the interface. The integration into all systems of the huge concern then went surprisingly smoothly.<br></p><p>Not only the technical aspects of the e-shop as such but also the shift in the sales philosophy are quite ground-breaking. Younger people are now able to buy a car in a familiar environment that they trust. Škoda is not afraid of innovations and even leads the way for others to follow, making the internet a full-fledged sales channel for their products. Let go of your reservations and doubts, the dream of a whole generation of developers and dealers have finally come true and now you can truly say that you can buy everything online, from socks to a car.​<br></p><p>With one click of your mouse you can read an interesting article, confirm a friendship request or buy a car. This sounds revolutionary and if you didn’t know how many thousands of work-hours digital specialists spent on the project, at first glance Škoda Online looks like just another modern website, easy to navigate and use. The e-shop itself, however, is far from trivial and offers an actual tool to select the parameters of your real car, which you can then order and buy. A new standard has been set and it will take the competitors a substantial amount of time to catch up.<br></p><p>Of course the buyers can’t see all the sweat and tears the developers put into the final product. For them, the system is just a tool that makes it easyer to buy a new car. You don’t have to haggle with the dealer, you can take advantage of the access to the stock and pre-configured variants. The system only offers actually available cars that can be picked up or delivered to your home, often already in only 14 days.<br></p><p>The specifications for Cleverlance, who implemented the system, have been fine-tuned to the very last moment and in the first third of the project implementation, the technology and required architecture changed completely. Despite these obstacles, our team, which implemented the half-finished concept from Brno to České Budějovice and back, managed to complete the project in a record-breaking three and half months. No, that's not a typo. It really just took a few months, not years.​<br></p><p>I’m not going to bore you with technical details of this ground-breaking project as not everyone is tech-savvy enough to understand all the nuances of the implemented system. It’s not important, anyway. What’s important is that the customers can quickly and intuitively learn how to use the web and can rest assured that they are linked to the stocks and show what actually is available for Škoda to complete the order, i.e., the customer’s car. The best kind of innovation is when the customers can directly see the final result.​<br></p></div>