What's your name?
What’s your current job?
Vice-president and general manager of Comtrade Digital Services – we are one of the leading providers of strategic software engineering services and solutions here in Ireland. In a nutshell, we work at the global scale as a technology partner that helps companies across different industries to innovate faster and reinvent their business models digitally by using agile development methodologies, innovative technology, and business acumen.
How long have you held the position?
For the past four years. Prior to that, I managed different types of integration projects with more than 150 engineers working on approximately 50 projects and IT solutions for international customers in the Adriatic region. Since 2013, I have been in charge of professional services for Comtrade’s international customers in the US, Ireland & UK and DACH region.
Can you describe your daily work routine?
Considering I am leading global operations, my daily routine comes down to checking the status of our very diverse projects across all different geographical regions, from the US across Ireland to West Europe. Very often, my daily work routine is related to travelling, which means flying and meeting clients at the numerous locations where Comtrade Digital Services operates, as well as listening to and understanding their problems, which we are trying to solve in the best possible way. As you can see, my daily work routine comprises many conversations with many interesting people about the opportunities for implementing the latest technology with the help of our own CDS talent. I enjoy helping our clients address their challenges and getting them to know different problem-solving activities.
What is your professional background?
I have a Master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Ljubljana and an MSc in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from the University of Belgrade. Ljubljana, well-known for its school of AI, was the perfect place to acquire knowledge about artificial intelligence. The thing which makes me proud is that I was able to dive into this world 10 years before AI and its methods became popular and people started to engage with it. Thanks to that, I am an expert in Evolutionary Computing within the more general AI domain. As an engineer for the past 15 years, I was a regular speaker at IBM, Oracle and Microsoft events presenting one of the first applications of AI methods for database optimisations and advisory tools.
Tell me about yourself away from work?
My base is in Slovenia. I am a passionate skier and climber. I use every free moment to escape to the mountains where I rest my head and body. This region is famous for basketball so I also used to be a passionate basketball player.
Tell us something very few people know about you?
People see me as someone capable of quickly adjusting to a new environment. I am also quick to respond to any problems I must deal with. On the other hand, my mind is open to any suggestion, comment or idea.
You are speaking at the forthcoming AI and Machine Learning Summit in Croke Park. What is the focus of your talk?
The focus of my presentation will be how to actually implement AI into enterprise environments after all the hype. Keeping in mind the new vendors in the cognitive area, I will try to explain how enterprises can take the best of it and realise benefits. In my opinion, RPA (Robotic Process Automation) is the right approach. It should be implemented at each level of the granular business process that can be automated. That would be the foundation for the future cognitive enterprise.
How do you think AI will shape the future of Ireland’s industry over the coming 5 years?
AI will shape not just industry, but society as a whole. Accordingly, many industries which are seen as old-fashioned - education, government, public services, for example - will face major changes. When it comes to Ireland, most changes will be visible in its society and economy. The number of cognitive assistants in health care and public services will overcome the number of people in their overall contribution to the economy.
What I expect is a further expansion of technology giants in Ireland, which will attract new talent from the world’s playground, ready to shape the culture and the lifestyle in Ireland for the better. The fact is that AI technology is taking over the leading role, not only in shaping industries but in shaping whole societies. Ireland won’t be an exception in that; on the contrary, it will be the leader.
Can you comment on whether you think Ireland’s workforce has the right skillset to enable the future workforce to deal with the oncoming fifth revolution?
This is something that presents a challenge at the global level. A prerequisite would be to reshape education in a way that diligent and hardworking people can learn new skills. The key role of government is to enable rapid education for the whole population, not just for the young but also for the people who will lose their jobs because of automation in all fields.
Viktor Kovačević is speaking at the AI and Machine Learning Summit in Croke Park on March 6th. Full details are available at aisummit.ie