Gordan’s PhD in Computer Science and more than eight years’ experience in managing software products, teams and departments, makes him uniquely qualified to discuss the latest developments in business and lifestyle tech…
Please could you give a brief summary of your career journey that led you to become management advisor at Visage Technology…
During my university studies, I was determined to make an academic career but attracted by the exciting dynamism in tech companies, I decided to take another direction. In 2010, I kicked off my career as the Product Manager in NTH Group, a company that provides a wide range of services for mobile business – from connectivity with telecom operators worldwide, to mobile advertising and mobile application development. To continue educating and pursuing my research interests, I also started a PhD in Computer Science.
After three years, I became Head of Product Management overseeing the whole product portfolio. In 2015, I took the CEO role at AdCumulus, a company within NTH Group that develops data-driven software solutions for online advertising and affiliate marketing. That was a very interesting period as the scope of my responsibilities extended from product management to managing all different aspects of business – from sales and marketing to software development.
Being at the final stage of my PhD and feeling that I would miss professional hands-on experience with big data, signal processing, and machine learning, in 2016 my career took a U-turn when I joined Bellabeat as team leader of the Data Science team. Bellabeat is a startup that creates beautiful innovative products for health and well-being. I was developing algorithms for wearable devices, helping with establishing a big data pipeline, and working closely with product management analysing product performance indicators and results of quantitive UX studies.
Finally, in November 2017, I joined Visage Technologies – a company specialised in the computer vision technology that is the leading provider of face tracking and analysis solutions. I joined them as an R&D engineer and as a team leader, but my previous experience led me to the current role in management.
You recently talked at Damconf.com about the future of marketing in an AI world… with this in mind, what are your thoughts on artificial intelligence and how it will affect the quality of people’s lives?
In my recently published article about multiview perspective on AI startups, I addressed some important specifics of the technology, but also provided a higher-level context in which AI is considered just as a new underlying technology. Understanding specifics is necessary to assess technical possibilities and to efficiently build products, while the bigger picture helps choose the problem to solve and optimise the solution’s value for users. These two are inseparable and equally important perspectives.
However, due to the inherent capitalistic technocracy that is evident in valuations of big companies and the venture capital flow, it seems that choosing the right problem to solve reduces to maximising the commercial potential within known or believed technical possibilities. As long as billions of dollars are invested in ‘smart’ products that can insignificantly improve the quality of life for rich people that can afford these products, less resources can be allocated to resolving the real problems that range from ecological threats to questions of human rights.
In summary, I think AI contributes to making trajectories of technological improvements exponentially steeper, but the capitalistic technocracy inherently do not support topics that are, in my opinion, most important to address.
What do you feel will be the top trending tech topic of 2019?
Augmented reality – with so many potential use cases in enterprise workforce training, along with the trajectory of technological improvements, AR will finally enter some bigger markets. If one influential company like Apple or Google pushes a product of software development kit for AR to mainstream customers, it will be a huge trigger for other companies to jump in.
Also, it’s very interesting to observe the progress of natural language processing, conversational interfaces and chatbots as we are still awaiting the radical improvements that are necessary to shake the whole service industry. It remains to be seen if they will happen during 2019 and whether they will really have such a substantial effect on the industry.
Speaking of chatbots, please could you tell us more about the AI-powered chatbot you helped to create for Bellabeat…
The idea behind all Bellabeat products is to inspire users to live a healthy lifestyle. For that reason, all the products are designed to be attractive, simple to use, and technologically advanced, but with non-intrusive and – ideally – invisible technology. A conversational interface was a perfect solution as it allowed us to naturally engage users with personalised data and to collect a lot of useful information. The chatbot was designed as a health coach that delivers multimedia content based on data collected from wearable devices (physical exercise, nutrition, hydration and meditation) and from previous chatbot conversations. We based most of the decisions about system design, content creation and user interface on quantitative and qualitative results from UX research. This gave me the opportunity to witness all the little ingredients that make the product inspiring, useable and so valuable for customers.
Finally, is there anything else you’d like to mention?