homepage_name! > Editions > Number 144 > Interview - Dejan Turk A1

Dejan Turk, CEO of A1 Serbia and A1 Slovenia

A1 Serbia Starts With You

A1 Serbia will place its focus on the individuals and their needs. We will do our best to be a reliable partner, making our customers’ lives in this digital era easier, simpler and more beautiful – be it in terms of business, entertainment or private life. We wish to offer every customer both services and advanced technological solutions that are in perfect harmony with their needs and lifestyle, providing them with the opportunity to create unique experiences for themselves.

1. Vip mobile has recently begun to operate under a new name – A1 Serbia, becoming a part of a famous international brand within the CEE area. What kind of unique experiences will A1 operator offer to its customers?

After 14 years, we are transitioning from a playful age into a more mature adolescence. In a short period of time, from a start-up company and the biggest greenfield investment, we reached the point of having 2.4 million satisfied customers who had recognized a different kind of story. We have tried to be innovative and to introduce new trends, as well as improve our position on the market. By changing our name to A1 Serbia, we are confidently heading in the same direction with even greater ambitions, prepared for the future that is to be shaped by digital technologies. A1 Serbia will place its focus on the individuals and their needs. We will do our best to be a reliable partner, making our customers’ lives in this digital era easier, simpler and more beautiful – be it in terms of business, entertainment or private life. We wish to offer every customer both services and advanced technological solutions that are in perfect harmony with their needs and lifestyle, providing them with the opportunity to create unique experiences for themselves.

2. What will these changes look like and what can we expect in terms of personal, business and social interactions?

On the one hand, the situation will remain the same, while on the other, it will be quite different. Moreover, when it comes to contracted services, since terms and conditions remain unchanged, there will be no changes in existing prices of products and services either. All other segments of customer experience will be significantly improved. The world that surrounds us is changing rapidly due to global digitalization, and A1’s role as a reliable operator is to facilitate our transition into the digital world that will provide us with unlimited opportunities for making our lives easier and our business more successful. Starting from a range of original products and services, as well as integrated business solutions and digital platforms within all business segments, through network infrastructure developments, expansion of 4G network capacities with the possibility of setting up a new generation network, all the way to unique digital tools and services that can be used for all forms of interactions – our goal is to provide each and every individual with an authentic experience and prepare them for the digital era we now belong to.

3. Why have you decided to take this step? Is this a part of A1 Telekom Austria Group’s broader strategy for making it more dominant by doing business under the name of a single brand?

Until a few years ago, A1 Telekom Austria Group had been operating in its markets under the names of different brands, when the owner decided to create a single European brand as a counterpart to big enterprises such as Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, etc. We started rebranding within the region four years ago, with Slovenia being the first, and Serbia the last country to be rebranded, thus bringing this process to an end. Nowadays, we are all part of the large A1 family with as many as 25 million customers from 7 countries in Central and Eastern Europe. Strengthening the brand is certainly a part of A1 Group’s broader strategy that affects its unique recognizability in all countries in which it operates, but it is also much more than that. This synergy provides us with access to the newest technologies as well as a direct exchange of knowledge and experience with other members of A1 Group, thus introducing numerous advantages and significantly accelerating the digitalization process within this region.

4. You have been actively developing your business as the biggest greenfield investment for the last few years. You mentioned the fact that A1 Serbia is going to take a big step in terms of integrated business solutions and digital platforms within all business segments. What do you mean by that?

The advantage of companies that started their business as we did – as start-ups – lies in proper understanding of the customers’ needs, with these being an excellent starting point for business organization and development, regardless of the size of the enterprise. Within our Group, we are devoted to the development of new solutions via A1 Digital, a branch of A1 Telekom Austria Group. We have already had an opportunity to cooperate with them and develop solutions such as the platforms Cumulosity IoT and Exoscale Cloud. In the coming period, customers from Serbia can expect advanced services from our A1 family, as well as services created with start-ups through A1 Startup’s offer. We will improve our selection of productivity tools, relationships between employees, collaboration resources, and ICT solutions. Other than that, we will be working on developing and maintaining digital security, as digitalization requires continuous improvement of security systems, as we were able to notice in the previous period.

5. In what way and to what extent will digitalization change our world? Is it enough to simply adjust to these digital changes or should we actively participate in them?

Digitalization is often referred to as the fourth technological revolution,but, as one of the speakers at recently held Conference about the Future ( A1 Talk) has noticed, this is still a revolution that is to surpass all the previous ones. Global changes that are to be introduced via digitalization can be compared to those related to discovering fire or the wheel. Therefore, the changes will be far-reaching and comprehensive. Just imagine how many things you can do today by using your mobile phone, things that could not be done 5 or 10 years ago, and just imagine what we will be able to do by the end of this decade. It is believed that digitalization will change the course of history, in the same way the Internet did some time ago, only to an even greater extent, as the possibilities that digitalization will introduce are unique in every sense of the word. There will always be people who can easily adjust to changes, as well as those who need more time for this process. By actively participating in the process of digital transformation, we will be able to, as a society, improve ourselves faster, as well as find technological solutions for adjusting to our future needs in the best way possible. I sincerely believe that the combination of human power and the one created by new technologies can make this world a much better place.

What does A1 plan for the upcoming period?

First and foremost, we would like to express our gratitude to those who put their faith in us. Along with our new brand, we have also launched the Moj A1 app which includes sets of gifts for all our new and existing customers which they can choose and activate by themselves each month until the end of 2021. Furthermore, thanks to our synergy with the Group, we have launched a series of A1 Alpha mobile devices characterized by excellent prices as well as quality, and we are now the only operator on the market that has its own device brand. We have been working on network improvement quite significantly, and we will additionally extend the infrastructure within the whole country, especially within the areas of Belgrade and Vojvodina. As much as 70 % of our network will be undergoing these changes, thereby significantly improving our customers’ experience. We will also continue building up a transport network, especially of optical drives that are necessary for the increase of the Internet traffic. At the same time, we will prepare our infrastructure for the changes that are yet to come. First and foremost, the above-mentioned refers to the 5G network that will contribute to digitalization of rural areas, as well as the development of fields including telemetry, traffic, energetics, environmental protection, agriculture, industrial production, etc. The next important step includes digital services related to safety and protection on the Internet, for which there is a great need among business and residential users.

6. What do the companies’ future roles and responsibilities include and what can their customers expect?

The importance of the company has changed over the past decade. From a simple supplier of goods and services focused on its own profit, brands have become active members of society with a great influence. The results of research activities show that customers put most of their faith in companies, due to the fact that they trust them more than non-governmental organizations, state institutions and the media. It is clear that with such influence, we become responsible as well as eager to make positive changes for individuals and the society as a whole. Our entire business history has been accompanied by social responsibility projects within the areas of environmental protection, culture, care for socially vulnerable groups suchas groups of children, mothers and seniors. A1 Group adopted the Environmental, Social & Corporate Governance Strategy (ESG) last year – a strategy that was implemented by us as well. Along with the creation of A1 brand, we also developed “The World You Want” project that will include a donation of RSD 10 million as a way of supporting projects related to public health, education and the environment.

7. What will our world look like in five or fifty years?

The world from fifty years ago is completely unrecognizable in comparison to the world today and, therefore, I believe the situation will be the same in another fifty years. In the next five years, more excessive usage of new technologies will certainly accelerate the automation processes, as well as increase production, due to ever-increasing human reliance on machines. In order for us to enable normal flow of huge amounts of data, New Generation Networks will be necessary, and with the development of sensors, nanotechnology, virtual reality, advanced algorithms and artificial intelligence, we will be able to completely transform our world for the better. This actually means that in the slightly distant future there will be no more traffic jams due to the vehicles’ ability to “predict” all traffic lights, that your fridge will inform you about its lack of certain groceries or the expiration date of some products, that the arable land will send a text message to its owner informing him/her about the ideal time to start sowing seeds. All these examples are possible even today, but are still not widely implemented. That is going to change very soon.

Who will be the future leaders and how will they think?

New age requires new ways of thinking. Apart from being charismatic and capable of inspiring people around them, the future leaders will be open-minded with a broad perception of the world, empathetic and able to observe everything from different perspectives; they will be active members of society who promote cooperation values and community spirit. Visionary thinking is characteristic of leaders, although future leaders will classify their visions into those creating something new and those anticipating potential problems to come. One thing is certain: true future leaders will always work in service of the community and they will not be driven by personal interests. With each technological advancement, the relationship between individuals and their community becomes a common topic, thus I believe that the future leaders will primarily be devoted to humane ideas and values.