Just how many use-cases will artificial intelligence have in the future?
How big is technological innovation in Europe?
How can tech tools be used for good?
These are some of the many questions on people’s minds as we enter the middle of the third decade of the twenty-first century.
We had a sit down with Robert Strzelecki, CEO of TenderHut Group, one of Europe’s leading tech CEOs who gave us brilliant insights on these issues and more.
Here’s what he had to say.
Robert Strzelecki, CEO of TenderHut Group
Following a resurgence in artificial intelligence and the emergence of regenerative AI, what industry do you think AI will have the biggest impact on?
The development of artificial intelligence and the emergence of regenerative AI could have a huge impact on many industries. It is worth noting that the impact of AI will depend on various factors, such as technological advances, regulations and public acceptance. In my opinion AI will play a key role in the future of healthcare – improving the accuracy of diagnosis, delivering more personalized treatment and making it easier to discover new drugs. Let’s also not forget manufacturing where AI will likely optimize and streamline processes, reduce errors as well as strengthen quality control. Supporting the research process in a decentralized laboratory, through AI-enriched Mixed Reality technology, can have a significant impact on the way things there are done. The use of AI in finance is also an important issue. AI is already changing the financial industry with applications that include algorithmic transactions, fraud detection and customer service chatbots. Regenerative AI is poised to build on these capabilities – constantly learning, adapting to changing market conditions and enabling more accurate predictions as well as risk assessments. The impact of AI definitely extends beyond the industries mentioned above and its potential applications are wide-ranging. As technology advances and AI becomes more integrated across sectors the number of possibilities it offers is also very likely to grow.
What is the story behind the TenderHut Group?
The company’s history dates back to 2015. It was then my friend Waldemar Birk and I decided to quit our jobs and acquire the company from SMT Software. After this deal was finalized, that same year, we established two more companies – Solution4Labs (which provides laboratory-management systems) and SoftwareHut (which develops software). One constant has always characterized everything TenderHut Group does – fast development. The demand for Polish programmers, who are among the best in the world, is huge. That is why our strategy is based on acquiring more entities and entire teams. This approach is reflected in our growth rate – we are a veteran among Polish IT companies in the FT1000 ranking.
What inspired you to get involved with technology?
There is a reason why I mentioned the fact that Poles are among the world’s top programmers. In my case, passion started with computers, from the first self-written software to university education. At the age of 19 I started my first business assembling computers. At the time, in Poland, that was a very lucrative market. I knew that my future would have something to do with IT. At the same time, as a young man, what I did not know is that I would infect over 500 people with the same passion. Another thing I didn’t know then? That I would be able to develop and implement leading technologies that solve complex problems and contribute to improving the quality of life. Watching the rapid pace of progress in the technology industry and the positive impact it has on various areas of society is another big reason for wanting to keep doing more.
How has Europe moved beyond the limitations of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Europe, like the rest of the world, struggled with serious challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is my impression, however, that it ultimately dealt with them quite well. Not insignificant in this difficult time was the role played by technology and the fact that we had access to a relatively well-developed telecommunications network. This made it possible to quickly introduce digital solutions to various aspects of life including office work, e-commerce and telemedicine. These advances helped Europe cope with the limitations caused by the pandemic and paved the way for the digital transformation that is shaping our current reality. Today, as TenderHut, we are developing these technologies through companies that have shown up in European and other global markets as a result of increased demand for remote work and telemedicine solutions.
What miracles can AI make happen in the medical industry?
There is currently no area of human life that artificial intelligence does not support in a measurable way. One of the more spectacular ones is precisely medicine in its broadest sense. As Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, recently stated: “the potential for artificial intelligence to transform healthcare is enormous.” Eye scans using AI can detect diseases faster and more accurately than previously used diagnostic methods – as a result patients will get help faster. Today, what AI does best is analyze large sets of data. That leads to a whole field of exploration concerning the analysis of medical data – for example data gathered using imaging techniques. This allows doctors to detect and react to tissue changes earlier. This is important because, as we know, time is of the utmost importance when it comes to receiving treatment. In addition, AI can help in drug discovery by analyzing molecular structures and predicting the effectiveness of drugs. What we will be dealing with is the development of personalized medicine. Through remote peripherals such as monitors of blood composition, blood pressure, or other parameters algorithms can, for example, detect a heart attack earlier and respond by calling for help or providing people nearby with instructions on administering first aid. AI has the ability to optimize healthcare processes, improve patient outcomes and potentially save lives.
What are the limitations of current government policies that have the potential to aid innovation and growth?
The discussion on regulations is ongoing and it is intensifying as more services become available to a wider population. There is an extremely broad range of topics to deal with here – from copyrights and issues related to responsibility for produced content (deep fake) to the rights that an artificial being may or may not have in the future. In my opinion we should get used to the fact that AI will permanently change our day-to-day reality. Over-regulation leads to absurdities like those in 19th century England – where it was mandated that a person with a light walked in front of an automobile, informing passersby that a machine was behind him. Regulations that protect public interests are, of course, necessary. At the same time too many regulations can stifle innovations and create barriers to entry for new players. In addition, a lack of cooperation and coordination between government bodies and the private sector can decrease the pace at which new technologies are adopted. To promote growth and innovation governments need to find a balance between necessary regulations and creating an environment that enables technological progress.
Does the rise and development of AI models spell doom for humanity?
Absolutely not! Have calculators or computers “doomed” bookkeepers? No. They have made their work more efficient. Any technology can be made into an instrument of destruction. Gunpowder contributed to the development of firearms but also took us to the moon. The same is true of the atom and many other inventions that have changed our world. As AI technology advances it is important to prioritize ethics as well as transparency and to leave the final decisions regarding these issues to people. A world in which the fate of individual humans will depend on an algorithm seems quite frightening. In my opinion, by putting in place robust regulations, standards and guidelines, we can ensure that AI is developed and used for the good of humanity and eliminate potential risks as well as minimize negative consequences.
How can AI models and innovations be developed ethically?
Ethical guidelines should be at the heart of every scientific discovery and field – that is also true of artificial intelligence. It is, of course, a process. The development of medicine would not be possible without animal research. At the same time, today, with the right simulators, we can transfer the process of drug testing or medical procedures to the digital world and eliminate any suffering for animals. In the case of AI development a multifaceted approach is required. First, it is important to promote transparency and accountability in AI development by ensuring reliable data sources, algorithms and decision-making processes. Bias detection and mitigation techniques should be implemented to avoid discriminatory results. The need for privacy and data protection – especially when it comes to personal information – is also extremely important. That is one area where the General Data Protection Regulation, despite the controversy it caused when first introduced, is certainly having a positive impact. Involving a diverse group of people in the process – including ethicists and psychologists – can provide a valuable perspective and ensure ethical considerations are taken into account. Collaboration between the business community, academia and regulators is essential to establishing effective guidelines and frameworks for ethical AI development.
Related:How Will AI Impact Jobs?
How did Poland become home to some of the world’s best programmers?
Poland’s reputation for highly skilled programmers is the result of several factors. First, Poland has a strong educational system that emphasizes STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Polish universities produce a significant number of graduates in technical fields each year and provide a steady source of skilled professionals. It’s important to note these people quickly become part of a dynamically growing IT industry and an environment that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship. It therefore comes as no surprise that global giants are investing in research, for example related to the metaverse, right here in Poland. The country has become a kind of sandbox where the latest technologies are tested and developed. Just look at the Polish banking system. The availability of outsourcing opportunities and cooperation with international companies have made it possible for Polish programmers to gain experience in line with the highest global standards and best practices. As a result of nearshoring and cultural as well as time-zone proximity Poles have a chance to work on major projects for some of the world’s biggest tech companies. This combination of a quality education and strong IT industry as well as a culture that promotes innovation has contributed to Poland’s emergence as a center for talented programmers.
Can doctors learn empathy from AI?
AI helps find the most effective therapies. With that kind of support doctors can offer patients honest and real hope for recovery – even in the most difficult cases. Ultimately, while AI will not replace human empathy, it is likely to help enhance it. AI-based systems collecting and analyzing huge amounts of patient data will make it possible for doctors to obtain comprehensive information that makes their day-to-day job easier. Doctors who, thanks to the information they obtain, understand patients better will be more empathetic. AI can also provide tools that support decision-making – leaving doctors to focus more on direct interactions with patients and empathetic communication. By automating routine tasks and providing personalized patient information AI will give doctors more free time. As a result, they will be able to build stronger relationships with patients.
Related: We Are Beginning The Age Of AI
How do the companies in the TenderHut Group interact with each other?
TenderHut Group can be a one-stop-shop solution for clients: ExtraHut will design the product – these are experts in UI/UX and they know how to talk to developers; Brainhint will handle data collection and analysis; SoftwareHut will develop the system; LegalHut will create the entire legal ecosystem of the solution, e.g. documentation, privacy policies, licenses; Human will create the marketing strategy for the solution as well as prepare campaigns to support sales; and ProtectHut will make sure the solution is protected from cyber-attacks.
That covers the full life cycle of a digital product. Thanks to the companies in the TenderHut Group a client can experience the full life cycle of a piece of software. In addition, companies within the group benefit from each other’s services by taking advantage of the synergies. Solution4Labs, for example, which is a digital transformation company providing services to optimize laboratory processes, uses marketing services from Human, IT outsourcing from SoftwareHut and legal consulting from LegalHut.
How can IT support ESG objectives and principles? How have you integrated ESG into the corporate objectives and culture at TenderHut?
In Europe there is a growing trend related to environmental protection. Here increasingly loud declarations are accompanied by new regulations on social reporting. Words aren’t enough. That is why Europe is introducing a series of regulations that outline mandatory eco-friendly practices for companies. Beyond what is required there is space for solutions that allow companies not only to measure their “green” indicators, but also to introduce systemic solutions to reduce their negative impact on the environment. At TenderHut we have several solutions for not only measuring, but also reducing carbon footprints. Our leading product in this area is Zonifero – a platform for managing hybrid work environments. The data it provides makes it possible to measure the carbon footprint of employees. This solution accounts for several parameters including i.e., amount of office space, number of employees or even business trips. Decreasing carbon footprint in the world of medical laboratories is also important. That is where our solutions from Holo4Med – Solution4Labs and Holo4Labs – come in. These systems provide detailed data and optimize research as well as medical procedures – as a result decreasing carbon footprint. Every aspect of a company’s operations generates a carbon footprint – the key is identifying specific sources and finding systemic ways to reduce them.
The business community and tech industry are well aware of the challenges they face in terms of taking responsibility for the impact our actions have on the state of the world. We also understand the importance of educating and increasing environmental awareness. This May, for example, in cooperation with Deloitte, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) organized new, interactive classes for students and professionals interested in IT sustainability and SDGs. During these classes, together with representatives from companies such as ABB, Deloitte, Lalique Group SA and UBS, as well as independent consultants specializing in digital /IT sustainability, I was able to share my own experience and insights related to those topics.
Which technological innovations, introduced in the past decade, have helped improve quality of life for humans?
One of the key changes we are currently seeing, without a doubt, is widespread access to artificial intelligence. It’s worth noting that we were talking about machine learning as early as the 1960s, but recent years have made the fruits of several decades of labor widely available. AI has contributed to advances in numerous industries including healthcare, finance, transportation and education. It has improved efficiency, accuracy and decision-making – resulting in better performance and increased productivity. Another extremely important bit of progress is the development of mixed reality. From its applications in medicine, manufacturing and laboratories to the new solutions recently introduced by Apple. As these devices develop – becoming smaller and more powerful – we will witness innovations that can be compared in scale to when Internet access became universally available. It stands to reason that the continued development of mixed reality will also contribute to deepening the trend for working in a hybrid format. That is one area where the pandemic has sped up the pace of innovation by 10 to 20 years. I see tremendous potential in this area. Work styles have changed, technologies that support this evolution continue to develop and there is no turning back.
How will new technologies like IoT, crypto, blockchain, Web3 and AI change humanity?
Each of these technologies will have a significant effect on the fate of individuals as well as entire societies. IoT will continue to connect and automate various devices, leading to greater efficiency, better management of resources and greater convenience in day-to-day life. Thanks to cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, on the other hand, we will gain access to decentralized transactions. Our digital identities will also become increasingly secure and our financial system will become more transparent and efficient. A more decentralized Internet will lead to a future in which users have more control over their data as well as digital identities and – as a result – more privacy. All of these technologies, supported by AI, will continue to transform various industries, make it possible for people to get more things done and contribute to advances in areas such as healthcare, transportation and customer service.
It’s also worth noting that a growing number of projects, related to IT in the broadest sense, are paying more and more attention to energy efficiency and ESG – proof that, when it comes to making positive changes and improving our quality of life, there is hope.
Are there jobs that should never be automated? Why?
While there are many tasks that can be automated, there are some occupations that require a human touch and cannot be fully replaced by machines. Jobs that involve high levels of creativity, analytical thinking, empathy and complex social interactions are much more difficult to automate. Artists, therapists, caregivers and people in certain types of leadership roles often have skills that current AI technology would find difficult to replicate. Automation can, however, support and enrich these professions by handling the repetitive or administrative tasks they involve – thus allowing people to focus on more creative aspects of these jobs.
What motivates you?
As CEO of TenderHut Group, my personal motivation comes from many different places. First, I am fascinated by technology and its potential to create positive social changes. I am motivated by the desire to use technology to solve complex problems, improve efficiency and enhance people’s quality of life. I also get a great deal of satisfaction from leading a talented and growing team of individuals as well as from being able to create a culture of innovation and collaboration that works. Most of all I am motivated by the opportunity to create a successful and sustainable organization that not only delivers value to customers but also has a positive impact on society as a whole.
Please tell us about the TenderHut’s services and the market segments it does business in?
We operate in four main segments: software development and cyber security, digital design and marketing, laboratory systems and startup development. The main focus of our business is software development. Our work on software development and laboratory systems has created the foundations that drive development in our other areas of activity. Our business strategy is based on providing complimentary services. We not only write code for an application and design its UX, but also provide advice on potential legal issues related to its usage and plan marketing campaigns for the finished product. At TenderHut Group a client can experience the full software-development lifecycle. We are currently in the process of making our start-ups independent in terms of capital structure. This approach not only strengthens individual CEOs, but also makes it possible for the companies to compete for international grants.
After all is said and done – what do you want your legacy to be?
Too be honest, at the point, what I want to leave behind is the last thing on my mind. I still have a lot of work to do. As CEOs from the tech world go, I am still a pretty young guy. This is a good time to mention Waldemar Birk, with whom I founded TenderHut. Waldemar is unfortunately no longer with us – he passed away a few years ago, having founded the company with me at the age of 72. Unfortunately, he didn’t get a chance to see our debut on the stock market, the progress that has been made in Mixed Reality technology or the successes of our start-ups. If I would try to define a kind of legacy, I would say this: I want TenderHut to be seen as an innovation leader which has a real, positive impact on the quality of life of a many people as possible.
Do you have any plans for the TenderHut Group this summer?
Yes, as CEO of TenderHut Group, there are lots of things I’m working on. That includes projects related to making TenderHut bigger – developing new services, expanding to new markets and reaching new customers. I also want to take better advantage of IT solutions, especially those based on AI, to automate processes in our companies and increase the efficiency of individual jobs. We will continue to develop new products using HoloLens and we are keeping a close eye on new developments from Microsoft – as their Partner of the Year – both those related to the Azure platform and others like Microsoft Copilot. We have recently been spending more time in Asia and the US. Expanding our business on those markets is something that I, as well as our entire team, will be putting a lot of work into. Our objective is to continue to grow and strengthen our market position while providing the highest quality service to our customers. Global markets are changing faster than ever but I am optimistic about the future. That is because I know I have a great team of experts who are capable of facing and overcoming even the biggest challenges.
About Robert Strzelecki
Robert Strzelecki is Co-Founder and CEO of the Warsaw Stock Exchange-listed TenderHut Technology Group. He is a member of the Business Council established by the Polish Investment and Trade Agency (PAIiH), Co-Founder and Member of the Board of Directors at the Software Development Association Poland (SoDA) and an official member of the Forbes Technology Council where he leads a group of Mixed Reality experts.
He has more than 20 years of experience in IT, with several hundred successfully completed projects for startups, SMEs and large companies (public and private), both at home and abroad.
The technology group Robert manages has been recognized by, among others, Deloitte (Deloitte Fast Technology 50 CE/500 EMEA), Financial Times (FT1000 Europe) and Forbes (Forbes Diamonds Poland 2022). TenderHut Group does business in software development and cybersecurity (Brainhint, Evertop, Kiss Digital, ProtectHut and SoftwareHut); digital design and marketing (ExtraHut, Kiss communications under the Human.pl brand), laboratory systems (Holo4Labs and Holo4Med – which specializes in LIS implementations in hospital laboratories – and Solution4Labs,) as well as startup development and holding services (TenderHut and LegalHut). Holo4Med, which provides innovative solutions for the healthcare industry, is one of the most developed/mature of TenderHut Group’s startups.