According to a recent research, AI bots will power 85% of all customer service interactions by 2020. Let this sink in for a moment.
How far has our social interaction reached in the last decade? Facebook, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Instagram. We are more connected than ever, yet, we constantly increase the invisible gap between each other. And with the introduction of AI as part of the overall social media picture, that gap is not disappearing anytime soon.
Artificial intelligence is actively present on the world scene for few years now, and although has a long way to go, the newly incorporated usage of AI in parallel with social media and social media marketing slowly but surely is changing the surface how future communication progress. Some of us have already been part of a communication with social media chat-bot. Most of us enjoy Facebook’s facial recognition, but so does Facebook, as this tool is of great importance for the real-time targeting marketing. And last but not least, Apple’s introduction of a new era of convenience – the Face ID technology. Smart innovations with even hotter implementation.
For a topic of such significance, we wanted to bring on stage representatives that breathe the challenges and opportunities of this technology growth on a daily base.
Chris Pavlovski is founder and CEO of Rumble, a full-service video platform and a top 100 website connecting creators to publishers and advertisers, and helping them better monetize their work through a variety of distribution and licensing models. Chris will chair the panel which is going to comprise of two fireside chats (informal convo) between him and the following gentlemen:
Alek Icev is a Macedonian-American computer scientist and high-tech executive based in Seattle, WA. Alek’s research background is in machine learning, data mining and bioinformatics. He is currently an engineering manager at Google.
Vanja Josifovski is the CTO of Pinterest where he’s responsible for establishing the company’s overall technical strategy as well as leading efforts in the areas of machine learning, search, feeds, and online advertising product development.
We invite you to join us at this year’s Summit and learn more about social media and platforms from these experts as well as from many more speakers concerning other interesting and trending topics.
Register at: https://mk2025summit.com/buy-ticket/
Thanks to Macedonia 2025, in July 2017, I was given the opportunity to attend one-week training at the Schulich Executive Education Centre plus one-week job shadowing in the company Summer Fresh in Toronto.
The Schulich Executive Education Centre is a strategic business unit of the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto and is ranked among the Top 10 World Business Schools by The Financial Times, Forbes Magazine, BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal and the Economist. Founded in 1966, the Schulich School of Business employs over 750 people and provides courses for near 10.000 executives annually.
During my stay in Toronto, the first week I followed a course for managers and executives in the corporate and public sector – Leadership Competencies: What Senior managers need to know. This was a unique chance to meet and to discuss with six excellent consultants, coachers, specialists, leaders and facilitators who teach at the university and work internationally with Fortune 500 companies as well as exchange experiences with the other participants on the program.
I was able to acquire skills necessary to achieve successful strategic change, nurture innovation, solve problems, and mentor teams to enhance performance, develop business recommendations with financial backup and thus compete effectively in the global economy.
The great value of my training was achieved during the job shadowing process in Summer Fresh, a company owned and run by Suzan Niczowsky, a remarkable women with Macedonian background who established this company 25 years ago and now is one of the leading food production companies in Canada. Her approach to business development is innovative and passionate which are main drivers for this success. She managed to gather a team of professionals that breathe with the company. The one week job shadowing in The Summer Fresh Salads Inc. was very inspiring experience for me.
During my stay in Toronto, I had the chance to attend the Macedonia2025 networking party “Business after hours” gathering at Montecito restaurant in Toronto. There I had the chance to meet over 30 successful expats and share my experience with the program as well as discussing some ideas about tactical steps that can help fulfilling the mission of Macedonia2025.
During my stay I also had the opportunity to visit the company Bozven Imports, importer of Tikves wines in Canada and learn more about Canadian wine market. I hope that all Macedonians living in Canada can have the opportunity to regularly buy our wines in the next period.
While I was in Toronto, everybody was preparing for the celebration of “150 years Canada”. I had the chance to see and feel the enthusiasm, the pride and joy that every Canadian citizen has for being a Canadian.
It made me wonder – People that belong to Macedonian nation, nation that has over 2000 years history, nation that invented the Cyrillic alphabet, nation that created the unique 7/8 music etc. , should be at least proud as the Canadians are (even more).
How can we achieve this? Regardless of our current place of residence, our Macedonian origin is something that connects us and our identity is deeply rooted in the country that has great historical and cultural importance as well as civilization values. It is up to all of us to share them and make them known since they contribute greatly to the “art of living” in contemporary sense of meaning and can enrich experiences of each and every person. The wealth of Macedonian nature, culture and people has given us extraordinary and unique cuisine and wine and together with the members of the Diaspora we can do a great deal by working together in its promotion and popularization. We can all proudly consume and recommend Macedonian products, including wine, and help them become more accessible in various countries.
The visit of Canada as part of the Macedonia2025 scholarship program made me realize that the purpose and the goals of Macedonia2025, have not just economic impact but also significant positive “national” impact. I hope that there will be more expats that will join the organization and that the country can clearly identify that is crucial to define and conduct a strategy for establishing meaningful connection with the Diaspora. Macedonia2025 and its activities and programs play an extremely important role in this process by strengthening the capacities of individuals and organizations.
The role of the women in today’s society has evolved quite a lot in the past dozens of years. Yet, we are still far from seeing an equal status between men and women. We see many cases where women are still undermined in their true being. They still get fewer promotions at work, they still receive lower salaries compared to their male colleagues who are on the same career ladder as them, and we still wait to see an increase in the leadership roles occupied by women. Despite the emergence of resilient women leaders spearheading the search for sustainable growth, women remain underrepresented in critical decision-making arenas.
Women around the world are demanding and creating a systematic change in how society works. Women’s default career is no longer staying at home to keep the children and clean the house. With years passing by, women have understood that they are more than housewives, and are ready to step into the world of professional development. Women possess unique capacity to sustain our future in an uncertain world, and societies should leverage women’s leadership in the process of development of sustainable, adaptive solutions.
Understanding the critical intersection between gender and a sustainable future, one of this year’s Macedonia2025 panels with explore exactly the central role women play in implementing solutions effectively across the globe, therefore creating a sustainable future for all of us. Ana Arsov, Managing Director in Moody’s U.S. Financial Institutions team and Macedonia2025 Board Member will chair this panel that will consist of four other ladies:
Vera Stavroff, President and CEO of HerbalScience and AlkaloidUSA, co-founder of GreenBeauty, and Macedonia2025 Board Member; Angelka Peeva Laurencic, Founder and Manager at Image PR, Macedonia; Sonja Smuc, CEO of the Managers’ Association of Slovenia; and Tarja Krehic, Incorporating Partner at Krehic Law Firm, Croatia.
Due to our participants’ interest, the topic of this panel is being entertained for a second year at the Macedonia2025 Summit. In case you are interested to see how this panel would look like, feel free to take a look at last year’s panel.
– Signori, what are your current activities and what is your status in Macedonia?
This year we are marking 4 years with Signori. We are grateful that the demand for Signori is continuously growing, people are dreaming of having our outfits and they have a goal to wear our suits when they make a wedding or have a special occasion. We are proud that people from all over the world are coming here and are interested in wearing Signori clothes. At the very beginning, when we started with Signori, we didn’t imagine that our products could be a dream for someone.
Recently we have started cooperating with Scabal and Loro Piana, world brands whose materials are used by the best tailors. These are luxurious and limited materials that are produced in England and Italy. We are grateful that we can use and offer them to our customers. It was a long process to get the licenses in order to sell these materials. At the moment we are the only one in Macedonia using these materials, and there are very few in the Balkans. Our customers are coming from all over the world – Ibiza, Germany, Switzerland, Austria – we have people who are coming especially to Macedonia to make their outfits in Signori.
We are currently continuing our cooperation with Kire Lazarov . We are now preparing a new winter collection for him, where the base is once again these ultra-luxurious materials. Lazarov himself says that he is very happy when he wears our brand and that he feels very comfortable in it. It’s very nice when these words are said by a person at his level. We also have cooperation with Goran Pandev who we will dress for the Super Cup, an event where our brand (logo) will be seen by millions of viewers. Some time ago we opened our own factory, mini-plant, where we already have about 15 employees, with a total of 20 people.
– Compared to 2016, how much did you grow?
Well, I think we can say we grew double the size.
With the growth itself, many new things are being taught and there is constant progress. We are building Signori to be a worldwide brand from Macedonia. We try to show the Macedonia name more often on the world markets, which will show that from here comes something of a quality, ultra-exclusive for people who have a taste and want to be special, different from all others.
When we talk about the products themselves, we now produce shirts, shoes, leather accessories, bow ties – all of these products are produced here by us. From this year we started to produce shorts and jeans as well. Also, for the winter collection, we will start to work more with fur, giving customers more options on what kind of fur they want for their coat.
We are already planning to start with the “Father and Son” collection, which will be quite interesting and intriguing for the family men who want to appear at an event together with their son.
For the first time ever we also held a fashion show in Kosovo, as part of the International Fashion Week, as we have a goal to expand in this market as well. It was superbly received among the people who were present from all over the world – an elite group of people who could only be present through an invitation, where we could show our new creations and tell how a man should look like in the everyday life. We did not want to be a standard fashion show, but to show what Signori is for the true gentleman, the one who wants and knows how to dress. This was the reason why we did not take the standard young models, but men who already wear our suits, and which normally can look rich and luxurious in the same.
– Do you have any plans for regional expansion?
First, we expanded to Cambridge, then Belgrade, and now we are focusing on Kosovo. With God’s will, after some time we would like to continue with the online sales. This is now a huge goal for us, as we would like to meet the demand that comes through the social networks. Our Instagram and Facebook pages are overwhelmed with requests, but we cannot do anything at the moment because we are working to the extent where the client himself must be present. Those who can afford to come to Macedonia, come to us, do custom-made clothes, plus have the opportunity visit Macedonia. On one hand, they spend a good time, and on the other, they see that the whole experience is worth the same as the products from the foreign market, but at least they enjoy a full concept. We have an express line where we make the outfit within 3-4 days, so in this period they have a short break, have the opportunity to visit Macedonia and of course get the clothes they like. We also have clients – grooms, who come as a group and want to wear our suits.
The good thing is that we have many requests. Now we just want to make the whole production process to be perfect, expand it, and enable anyone to order an outfit. We will have M to M (Made to Measure / Ready to Go) for every buyer who will say “here, I love this outfit” so they can get it. We have great benefits that we are in Macedonia, especially about exports, and we are very proud to have “Made in Macedonia” sign on our products.
– Does this mean that with the help of your website, future customers will be able to take their own measures, so the process of direct measurement by your side would be reduced?
Yes, they will have a personal profile on the website with full details, starting with name and surname, year of birth, up to the information on how to measure and get their own measures. There will be detailed step-by-step videos through which customers will have the opportunity to measure themselves at home, and with that, we will have an insight into what the measure is for, so we can make them an outfit. Plus, we will offer a special program where we will give a special discount to the first customers who will be able to go to the tailor, something that will be included in the price itself.
We also have a new campaign this year, “Gentlemen’s Club“. Our goal is to animate our clients who are loyal to us in order for them to have a place where they can dress in Signori. It’s nice that all are young and successful businessmen, and of course, there are some older gentlemen, with whom we can exchange opinions and do some networking. It’s like a new movement that we did in Skopje, and I think it works superbly.
– Do you import all the materials or there are certain materials that are used from here?
Yes, everything is imported. Every material, especially from the exclusive ones, such as Scabal, is ordered specifically for that client. We never take it in large quantities, because the materials themselves are quite expensive. It is good that we have many clients from the Macedonian market who enjoy this luxury, love it, and are collectors of such things. These suits are more for people who already have 20 suits at home, and wear them every day, in some ways even like track suits.
– Is there a potential for producing such materials in Macedonia?
It used to be, but now I think that this quality cannot be reached because the wool and the cashmere they use are rarer and softer. Our wool is sharper, so to work with such materials, they will first need to be imported and then processed. They have quite specific materials – such as silk from the lotus flower, which is quite unique. They also have waterproof materials on which you can freely spray water and the materials will not leak.
– What’s the difference between a regular suit and Signori suit?
The difference is really huge. Let me give you an example. If you go to the store and are keen to buy a dark blue suit, after trying it out you will notice that the suit might be wide in the upper part and thimble in the lower. There will surely be something that will not suit you, and the design will not be anything special because your knowledge of suits is limited. 90% of men do not wear their suits every day. You will see a picture on Instagram of which you will see a super suit you would like to have, but when you go to a store you will encounter something you did not imagine – it would not be “slim fit”, it will not be tailored, in the shoulders might be wider, the length will be different, and so on. And now it would be illogical for you to go to a tailor if you already paid for a more expensive brand, only for someone to unstitch your jacket, so it can tailor it, while you do not know how the final product would look like.
At Signori you receive consultations, whereby we will immediately direct you to the right choice, we will explain you all different materials, we will design the outfit to your standard with the design that most suits you. We want to consult you about suits that best suit you. And now, in the end, the color may be dark blue, but there’s a huge difference when someone says, “Hey, where did you get your suit?” and “Your suit is from Signori, right?”
The difference is in the whole concept. Signori is not just the product, Signori is the approach, the service, the style, the design, the attention being dedicated, the cut. It’s absolutely clear from the first moment when the outfit is Signori, and people already recognize it. The difference is perceptible, and the very feeling when you wear it on yourself is very different. The flexibility of the outfit itself, as well as the materials that we use to make it, are equally important, because not only the outer material but the whole workmanship of the inner part is important, in order to keep the outfit fully fixed and be more flexible when the client moves. Normally, to be comfortable, and to look good as a whole.
*This is a transcript of Professor Shuichi Fukuda’s presentation at the Macedonia2025 Summit 2016*
Today I am talking about my idea. I am afraid my idea might not help Macedonia so much but I hope that it will work at least a little bit for the country. The topic of my talk is New Value Creation through Emotional Engineering. First of all I would like to talk how the world is changing from yesterday to today. Yesterday our world was very much small and closed; our world was one that was bounded, but now it is expanding very rapidly to become an open world. This is an age of exploration. We are exploring the new world that we are facing today. When we compare the transportation system, yesterday was an age of trains and with it came problems regarding speed and efficiency. Now is an age of ships – we set sail to the sea world, but the sailing is subject to unpredictable outcomes because of hurricanes and storms. This means that we have to adapt fast to the changing situations and that is what we are facing today.
We can compare this with other examples. In this case let’s take agriculture; the land is limited [for production], but if we accumulate experience then we can organize the knowledge in order to have a rich harvest. Decision making is very important for the challenges facing us today. So the quality is improving. Engineers put vast effort to improve the quality, but there is a law, called Weber-Fechner Law; according to this we need a small, proportional stimulus. If I raise my voice to scorn my students, they don’t care because I regularly talk loud – they don’t notice that I have raised my voice.
If we raise the quality of something to a high level our customers cannot see how the quality has improved and that is a challenge. So we should consider how we can convince the customers that we are providing them with a better quality. [The American psychologist] Maslov presented the Hierarchy of human Needs where at the bottom of the pyramid humans look for material satisfaction; but as we are going up the pyramid what we are finding is the need for mental satisfaction. People look for mental satisfaction in a product, but the attention [of companies] is how to provide a better product – the production is product-centric. There needs to be a shift in the focus of product engineering.
The American psychologists Deci (Edward L.) and Ryan (Richard M.) propose a self-determination theory, saying there are two kinds of motivations – intrinsic and extrinsic. The extrinsic motivation is a kind of reward, to use an economic term; there is a reward for the consumer if the company provides a very good product for the customers. What is more important is how to inspire intrinsic motivation. Deci and Ryan also tell us that humans have a need to grow, because we tend to forget about this. This session is about sustainable development, whose concern is, how can we keep growing, but that is very much related to human motivation and this is where intrinsic motivation comes in – how do we inspire the human desire for growth, how can we make people more satisfied? We are talking about how we can develop a better quality product, but that is not what really satisfies our customers. To really satisfy our customers we should think about the intrinsic motivation or there need and desire to grow. Also we should focus more on the process rather than the product.
And this can be practically seen in software development. One great example of a continuous improvement in user satisfaction is software design by continuous prototyping styling. Software design starts with the very basics to include and provide a feeling of confidence and trust in the user. When people feel confident and put trust in the system their level of satisfaction is going up.
If we come back to the basics of things we get to Lego. The company simply produces blocks and give them to the customers. So there is no final product but the customers really enjoy how they can combine the different blocks according to their needs and they come up with a different kind of final product. They are creating their own experience and that gives them joy. So this is a process-oriented product that is very cost effective while it provides people satisfaction. So this idea brings us to modularization.
If we proceed with this kind of modularization we can engineer various building blocks. This is evident in the fashion industry, which has come much ahead from the engineering world by creating emotional modularization in a way that enables people to pick and combine what they want to wear, at a range of prices. The Japanese kimono is an example of that – it is made of four strips of fabric that people can combine – a grandmother can wear a piece of the kimono that her grandchild is wearing but in a different style. And all this is very important when it comes to engineering. Daihatsu has produced the Copen, which is made of interchangeable parts. So tomorrow maybe there will be “car codes” in addition to “dress codes” that would require people to put together a car from specific parts to drive to the meeting place. That is not a dream, it is a reality.
There is also the coming of material digitalization. Yesterday we had a very limited range of material selection, so we had to find satisfaction in what we were provided by the producer of materials. Maybe tomorrow materials can be reorganized and combined in a very different and flexible way.
Yesterday raw materials created a very limited selection and to answer that we came up with manufacturing technology or intermediate components and a better product which is very much linear. But tomorrow we are expecting lots of different intermediate components which can be shared across many different industries and between ships, automobiles, airplanes. While today “final product” companies are dominating, tomorrow, medium and small companies that evolve can make different applicable parts and a wider market for that. Customers will be more interested to have products whose application doesn’t deteriorate from the day it was delivered. Like in the example of Lego, the process value enables the user to use the product across time that spans over a lifetime.
3D printing now can enable people to experience the joy of creation as a creative experience, which is essential for the growth of humans.
To summarize, what characterizes humans is this: humans see the future. This is why engineers are here to create a future and life style that gets us away from the traditional framework of one-time-satisfaction experience. We should move much forward in a way which will enable us to make our dreams come true. In the age of exploration we are getting to a low-tech technology that improves the human experience. A restaurant chef might be highly-skilled but he or she still has a limited menu, in accordance to this, when we have to cook at home we have to rely on our limited skills and make use of what is left in the refrigerator to make a delicious meal. Theodore Roosevelt said: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”. To describe this in another way I will quote a famous American football coach of the Notre Dame College team who said, to collect the best players doesn’t mean having the best team; to make the best team you need flexible, adaptable players who will adapt to the situations.
To watch the whole panel visit our YouTube channel
Professor Shuichi Fukuda is Adviser and Professor of System Design and Management at Keio University. He is an expert in CAE, dynamics, reliability engineering, intelligent production, emotional engineering and the management of technology.
Professor Fukuda has a PhD in engineering from the University of Tokyo (1972) and after working there and at Osaka University (1972-1989) he worked at Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Technology (TMIT) for over 16 years. At TMIT he served as Professor of System Engineering, Department Chair, Dean of Engineering and Dean of Library and Information Systems. He also served as Director of the Center for University-Industry-Government Collaboration. He was also a visiting professor at Stanford University and West Virginia University.
From 2007-2014, he was a Consulting Professor at Stanford University, Visiting Professor at Osaka University, Open University of Japan and Cranfield University (UK).
Professor Fukuda has also served as President of ISPE (International Society for Productivity Enhancement), Vice President of the Reliability Society (IEEE) and Chair of Computers and Information in Engineering Division, American Society of Mechanical Engineering (ASME). Prof Fukuda has over 30 awards including a Lifetime Achievement Award from ASME.
Lazar Gacov founded the company Svemek in Sweden, based on his working experience in the machining industry. After relocating the company in Macedonia in 1997, Svemek became a family-owned and run company. Macedonia2025 had the pleasure of hearing the story about a successful business that moved to Macedonia to face difficult challenges which did not deter it from delivering products to leading European international companies. We talked to the founder Lazar and his daughter Kristina, who leads the company’s relations with the clients.
Tell us about the origins of Svemek
I have worked as a toolmaker. I know how to produce various tools and I started from the very basics of the trade. During my entire career I didn’t stop learning and perfecting my skills. The knowledge that I earned in Sweden I transferred to the people working in the company in Macedonia.
What products does Svemek specialize in?
Svemek doesn’t have its own products but manufactures according to blueprints sent by our clients. We usually receive blueprints for cylinders, but we aren’t fixated only on that. We also make component parts for cylinders which are used on doors of buses and trains. The hydraulic parts that we make are used in various industrial machines, construction vehicles, machining cylinders and so on. The machines that we have in the factory are the same or similar to those used by companies in the West and we do our best to keep the standard to the highest level.
Do you mostly export or are you focused on domestic buyers?
Svemek has cooperation with foreign companies, which source 90 percent of our production. Unfortunately, foreign companies think that we should have prices as in Chine just because we are in the Balkans, and this can create difficulties when a company has disproportional expectations. In any case, the products that we make are in the end more affordable than those made anywhere in the west, in the end enabling the clients to work with us.
Do you have any inventions that are your own?
At the moment we are making an attempt to make propellers for hydro turbines. We succeeded in producing the first prototype which looks like it is going to work. We have a working fit of the shape and we are now experimenting with materials. The company owns a software which thanks to our programmer (Lazar’s son and colleague) creates various modules with the purpose of optimizing the work of the turbines. Next thing to do is simply hope that there will be an expansion here in the use of hydro turbines for the production of electricity.
What caused you to move to Macedonia after 32 years spent in Sweden?
We made that decision because of our children. The pace of living in Sweden was very intensive and we couldn’t find enough time to dedicate to each other. In those years there were places in Sweden that were unfit for raising children. We moved to Macedonia before 1997. In the meantime I bought machines and halls to develop the production facility. I purchased an additional storage hall which was illegally sold to a third person.
How were your beginnings and has anything changed in the conditions for doing business?
In 1997 it was very difficult. Just to import materials we had to obtain special forms and pay various fees. The customs tax back then was 26 or 27 percent which had to be paid, but the government didn’t return the taxes. Oftentimes, entire series of products were stuck in our storage halls because of unknown bureaucratic reasons. However, with the course of time the conditions for doing business started to improve, although there are still challenges, such as the high price we are paying for electricity.
In which direction do you plan to take your company in the time ahead?
Our focus remains on finding new foreign clients. We make efforts to maintain high standards and show people that the company fulfills the expectations for quality and professionality. We have cooperated with globally famous companies that make machines, industrial vehicles and similar products. We possess a number of ISO standards which is proof that every client should expect the best service from us.
Have you had cooperation with any of the foreign companies in Macedonia?
We have cooperated with some of the foreign investors. We have had meetings to discuss possible cooperation with some of the investors, but the conditions which they set are almost impossible to be fulfilled. In the period ahead we expect to start working for one of the big investing companies here.
What kind of change do you wish to see in the business environment, which would enable you to stay afloat and continue to develop as a company?
Macedonia needs a center that stores production materials such as aluminum, copper, iron, brass, etc. because these materials are imported. Our expenses are higher to obtain these than companies in the west. Because of this we lose clients who want smaller orders. It costs us a lot to bring in materials just for that order than what we would earn on it. The state should look for a way to start such a center in cooperation with the leading companies.
Another thing that we want to bring to your attention is that Svemek has been stuck in a legal case of 17 years, because of which we risk losing part of the property which we have purchased by all legal means. Because of collusion by several people, the storage hall that we purchased was sold to another person. The case has been in the media on several occasions. The courts continue to bounce the case back and forth, until it expires in 2020, despite the fact that at the first trial the verdict was in our favor. The verdict presented and attested to all irregularities that enabled the other side to obtain the legal rights to the property, but still, the case continues to linger in the legal system.
Unfortunately, the domestic producers are not protected and the government must undertake concrete measures to improve the business climate for people from Macedonia who generate value to the domestic economy. If there is legal protection by the government, there are going to be many more people who will wish to invest.