Shortly after BULPROS opened the newest technology Innovation Lab in Bulgaria, Alexander Tzonev, CTO at BULPROS, speaks about the importance of innovation in business and explains the idea behind the Innovation Lab.
What is your definition of innovation?
My definition of innovation is to find new ways to leverage the skills and the knowledge that you have and to create solutions that will be able to simplify people’s life.
Why do companies need to focus on innovation?
Companies need to focus on innovation because of the fast pace of changes that are happening in our lives. Every aspect of our lives is changed now for different reasons being demographic or economical -you name it… And life changes, so everything that people expect is transforming and you need to find new ways how you can help people with the new challenges that they face.
What will be the next big innovation in technology?
The next big innovation in technology would be Smart Automation. It is something that already started but Artificial Intelligence is becoming more and more accessible, so you will be able to see it more or less everywhere and this will help people to interact with technology in a native way. It will not require any special education, it will not require any specific understanding, it will just allow you to interact the same way you would interact with anything else in the world.
What is the main idea behind the BULPROS Innovation Lab?
The main idea behind the BULPROS Innovation Lab is to experiment with new ways of leveraging technology and to experiment with emerging technologies. Also, the idea is to show our customers how they can use the technology in a different way, in a way that they have never thought of. That will make their lives easier and their businesses – more successful.
Do you have something, which is your favorite in the Innovation Lab?
There are several things that I like and that I would like to do some more of. One is the combination between the so-called live vegetation and technology, the other one is the smart ability to control the environment within the Lab and the third thing is the possibility to integrate with different collaboration tools, automation capable devices, and so-called smart devices, to experiment with different scenarios creating a smart environment in the Lab.
Having said that the idea is to be able to personalize the environment in the long run based on the people that are coming into the Lab. There are certain challenges because this is a place for interaction and we want to create a personalized experience for every visitor.
Is there something in the Innovation Lab, which you use in your business life?
Well, the collaboration technology that we have there – this is something that I am using on a daily basis. I am leveraging also the nice interior that we managed to design for the Lab so that every now and then we have some meeting and instead of going to some conference room we go to this place, which is a bit different and creates different vibes as part of the meetings. Also, the other part that we are using is some of the capabilities of the Wi-Fi that we’ve built in with the ability to control and provide quality of service and security for the people that are connected and using the Wi-Fi. Last but not least, we have some interesting gadgets inside like VR glasses etc. that we are using for experimentation mostly, but if you take them separately like for example a smartphone, a tablet, a computer you can use them in your everyday life, and we're looking for new ways how we can combine them.
On the Innovation Lab wall, there is a famous saying – If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. What do you want to achieve next?
One of the things I want to achieve is to engage more people in the Innovation Lab in generating ideas and not only generating the ideas but doing the experimentation and the testing and helping shape some of the solutions which are generated there. It requires a certain structure because we cannot allow 500 people in the Lab, but I would want to see more people engaged and asking to use the Lab for certain experimentation.
And why did you choose this exact saying for the Innovation Lab?
I think you need to dream in order to go ahead. If you look at the development of technology most of it was driven by certain Sci-Fi movies, books. etc. A lot of the advancements in robotics and Artificial Intelligence is based on the books of Isaac Asimov, which is something that he envisioned years before the first robot was available. Then looking at some other interesting technologies, you can see them in movies like “Back to the future” and “Star wars” and others. I think the only way for you to create something new is by dreaming about something. If you have a passion, then you'll be looking for a way how you can achieve it. If you don’t, then chances are that you will go for your daily life without questioning the status quo. That's why I think it's important to dream every now and then.
In a world, which is very well developed, do you think that there is still room for innovation?
There is always room for innovation, but it’s important also not to forget that there is the saying “Everything new is well-forgotten old.” That's why I'm saying that innovation in a way is leveraging your experience and knowledge in a new way. If you look at virtualization, for example, that became like the new technology trend several years ago, this is something that was available in the past as well but applied in a different way. And because of these changes in our everyday life and our expectations of what we do, there is always room for innovation because every new thing that we introduce, every change creates kind of a snowball effect. It’s changing things that you wouldn't initially imagine. For example, initially when Steve Jobs introduced iPhone he was saying an internet device, an iPod and a phone and that was his vision in the beginning. Now if you think about it, most of the time we work from our phones and people like me spend probably 90 percent of their time not sitting at their desks working on their computers but traveling and using their phones to do their work. And this has changed a lot of things. Now it's impossible to find dynamic people staying in one place, but you can always get a hold of them. You don't need to have the best computer ever, because most of the time you’ll be anyway using your laptop or your mobile phone or your tablet. So, this is changing all the expectations for you as a user - how you are going to interact with technology. And this is driving the demand for the technology to respond with the proper change and the proper interface for you, but the interfaces are just the tip of the iceberg. You need to do a lot of other stuff that is happening in the background and you need to find some new ways to deliver these experiences. For example, Mobility First drives the expectation that all the services that you offer will be available from everywhere, which means that you can no longer rely on the old paradigm of having a firewall that will protect your environment in the organization. You need to look for another way. That's why there are multiple companies that introduced in turn internet gateways to change this paradigm of putting the protection at another place not surrounding the environment but helping you protect the devices, helping you protect access not by physically redirecting the traffic from your device, but helping your device to understand if certain traffic is malicious or not. So, there are multiple things that are changing and even at the place where the people are saying “Okay, we have a firewall, this is done, this is the end of the story”, we see a lot of changes happening. I think there will always be a certain demand for innovation.