pametni turizam

SMARTMED project – for smart and sustainable tourism in Croatia

Jelena Brbora
 May 27, 2020.

Tourism is strategically one of the most important determinants of the Croatian economy. It does not contribute to our country exclusively from the economic aspect but also helps the promotion of its culture and goods on a global level. However, high seasonality, mass tourism, lack of capacity, and, above all, lack of cooperation between key stakeholders in recent years are the main challenges of the tourism industry. It is these segments that have been recognized by the SMARTMED project, which is carried out by the Ministry of Tourism.


Smart tourism in the Mediterranean

The SMARTMED project brings together 13 partners from 9 Mediterranean countries. Croatia will thus join Portugal, Spain, France, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, Slovenia, and Greece in overcoming the aforesaid common challenges. The SMARTMED partnership will contribute to integrated tourism development planning in the Mediterranean. This will be achieved by developing and testing the Smart Tourism business model. This primarily aims to empower stakeholders to develop new products and innovations in tourism and contribute to the construction of smart Mediterranean destinations.

Smart tourism in Croatia

Apsolon, in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism, will work on the development of a business model for the Mediterranean and provide professional support for model testing in Croatia. As part of the development of the model, six different events will be organized with key stakeholders in Croatia. Apsolon will also develop basic methodological settings for creating an analytical basis for all partners and detect pilot initiatives.


The project was prepared within the framework of the transnational European Cooperation Programme for the Mediterranean area. The program encourages innovative concepts and practices of rational use of resources and social integration. You can find out more details about the project at the link.

The application of GDPR ongoes for three months. There was a lot of fear and confusion among companies, but the average citizen was given the opportunity to access their aggregated personal information on social networks, more clearly explained ways and purpose of processing this data when using loyalty programs and sending marketing materials to the email address

Over the past few months, the concept of GDPR has embarked on the collective consciousness of Croatian citizens, partly because of everyday articles on the subject in the media, partly because of requests for irritating consent forms sent by e-mail. Behind this concept is the Universal Data Protection Act (GDPR) that came into effect on May, 25 when its popularity on Google overcame the World Cup at the front, as well as numerous world stars such as Rihanna, Beyoncé, or Lionel Messi. Today, three months after, the number of searches has returned within the usual framework and many portals have ceased to inform citizens and organizations on the obligations the Regulation will introduce. The result of these articles has often been the deepening of confusion and fear of the Regulation and the rigorous penalties it prescribes. On the other hand, the result of the Regulation is a clearer process of processing personal data.

Data Access

There are three examples in which an average citizen could get acquainted with the Regulation: the ability to access their aggregated personal data on social networks, the more clearly explained ways and purposes of processing personal data when using a loyalty program, and giving them permission to send marketing material to an email address. Related to this, companies have the challenge to identify the personal information in their possession, revise or establish their privacy policies and personal data handling, and establish the legal basis for each process of handling or using personal data in their business.

Loyalty cards

Many merchant chains in Croatia are using loyalty programs through cards, QR codes and alike. So, without us being aware of this, our purchase habits became the subject of analysis, and we were the subject of profiling whereby the chains were trying to predict our purchasing habits. Although requirements and rules already exist, they have often been superficially written, insufficiently informative and detailed, so that an individual could not get a clear picture of what personal information is provided to companies, for what purpose and what will be done with them. As a result, personal data of individuals could be shared with non-sanctioned third parties, used for purposes that were not initially envisaged, and used in other ways provided by vague privacy rules. The Regulation has put this to an end, with a clear explanation of the information that needs to be provided to the individual when collecting personal data. In weeks before the introduction of the Regulation, many chains changed the privacy policy’s use of the loyalty program, some even issued brand new cards and programs, all to adjust privacy requirements to the Regulation requirements.

Email rescue

The best advantage that came with the Regulation is filtering out a large number of ‘newsletters’ that come to our inboxes every day. Prior to the Regulation, many organizations that collected our e-addresses for various purposes unilaterally decided to use them for sending marketing materials. With the Regulation, all these companies have to prove that each individual they send these materials has given them a clear and unambiguous consent, most of which did not have them. In order not to be left without the ability to send marketing materials to masses, the companies sent out panicky consent requests on the 25th of May, hoping to respond as quickly as possible and to maintain their marketing reach.

A lot of workload for the companies

To cope with these challenges, companies must make a series of steps. To identify all personal data in a company’s possession, it is necessary to revise all business processes to detail, focusing in particular on personal information that needs to be clearly identified and distinguished. This process should cover all departments and business processes, both internal and external, as it can only create a complete image of company-wide personal data and meet the individual’s demand for access to all of their personal information. The solution to inadequate privacy policies is their modification. The first step in this is to identify the discrepancy of the current content and the way of communicating the privacy policy to the users with what the Regulation requires.  The scope of information provided to users in the collection of personal data, the way privacy policy is disclosed (must be clearly separated from other rules of use), and also the manner in which the user gives the consent should be borne in mind. Based on identified deviations in these areas, companies had to change certain areas, but often create completely new privacy policies that were aligned with the Regulation. Related to this, but also with the last challenge outlined in this article, in order to avoid penalties, companies must use personal information only for the purposes for which they have individual consent. Companies that used e-mails from individuals to send marketing materials had to analyze the ways that e-addresses were collected. For example, if a user gave an e-mail address when registering at a web store, he did not give permission to submit promotional offers to his / her email address. The use of an e-mail address as a marketing channel must be clearly separated and the individual must give his/her consent, also under the terms and in the manner dictated by the Regulation. Only the appropriately given consent can be considered as a legal basis for sending a ‘newsletter’ to an individual’s email address.

The practice is created along the way

Based on these and many other challenges that companies face, a basic conclusion after several months of work on alignment projects is that this topic is complex and new to all stakeholders, mostly because it is not possible to map an example of good practice from other countries because the Regulation became binding for all organizations, from Bosnia and Herzegovina to Sweden on the same day. Namely, even companies outside the EU who handle personal data of EU citizens must embed it in the business and comply with its requirements. Nevertheless, we can all actively follow the disclosures, guidelines, and opinions of the Personal Data Protection Agency (AZOP), the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) or some foreign supervisory body, such as the British Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). While breaking through this forest of information, experts from Apsolon are available to you as external help in the process of alignment.


What companies must do

  • To identify all the personal information the company possesses, it is necessary to review all business processes to detail, focusing in particular on personal information.
  • The first step in this is to identify the discrepancy of the current content and the way of communicating the privacy policy to the users with what the Regulation requires
  • In order to avoid penalties, companies must use personal information only for the purposes for which they have individual consent. Those who used the e-mail address of individuals to submit marketing materials must analyze the ways in which their e-mail addresses were collected.

A question that many companies ask themselves these days is “when to call a digital consultant”? We do not have a crystal ball, but if you recognize yourself in one of the following situations, we can tell you that the time has come for you to hire a person who will provide a more courageous future to your business, and therefore – survival.

At many business conferences in recent months, it was possible to hear that the time for Digital Transformation is now. If we ask consultants about this, who always need to be a few steps ahead, they will agree, because consulting is the largest base of digital experience and knowledge. Firstly, they had to transform themselves in order to be able to consult others, and that is why numerous world companies use financial advisors, strategy, risk management, and digitization advisors. While some consulting firms offer a narrow section of specialty, there is an increasing number of those with a multidisciplinary approach. It seems that the convergence trend has also affected consulting, and with it, digital consulting.

Pilotless Airplane If you do not have a person responsible for Digital Transformation yet, you have to search for or appoint one. The Chief Digital Officer (CDO) is a key person who can significantly boost the efficiency of transformation and therefore the choice should be anything but routine employment. Digital consulting can help companies in defining needs and quality in terms of size, environment, and activity, and they often hide internal talent and CDO candidates, but they need to be recognized.

Everyday Plan Digital transformation is a very tough process. Easy for those who know, painful for those who think to pass by it. It requires goals assessment, direct management, and employee involvement, and therefore you need a digital consultant specializing in transformation. Failure is present both in large and smaller companies, which is why the initial investment is much smaller compared to t losses caused by improvisation.

Nothing without strategy One of the most common reasons for involving consultants in the company is to help develop a strategy. It requires a thorough analysis of the current state, the business environment, the client’s desire for change, and the likelihood of success. In digital strategy, the focus is more often concentrated on internal processes. Whether it includes pre-digital products or just digitalization of work processes, depends simply on the nature of the business, and executive teams need to be led by the proposed priorities.

How to stay ahead? On the business horizon, many companies and startups are struggling to invest in new technologies. The main problem is the recurring solutions, while success is reserved for those hungry for innovations. Digital consultants have a great understanding and feel of the market, they know the areas where the competition is too strong but also less developed but highly potential. That is why they can give the best recommendation for company development.

Marketing, but digital marketing Marketing has changed so much in the last few years that many companies have spontaneously, and without the appropriate strategy, started to accept new solutions. Since the elemental use of digital technologies does not deliver the desired results, it is prudent to seek the help of digital PR agencies or employ a person who will be completely dedicated to digital marketing.

Hostile takeover Dynamics of company development at one time requires expanding, and consultants can be of use in finding a potential merger partner. The task of the financial and development team is to adequately identify the value of the interest, but also the risk factors that can potentially lead to a problem. And while we recommend taking outsider advice,   experience says that negotiations should still rely on inner strengths.

Laboratory Product and service development is not easy because it requires forecasts up to several years in advance. Let’s compare today’s smartphones, which at the moment of release already have up to two generations in the making. The workplace of these processes is their own laboratories, that can today be considered as a regular part of the company’s infrastructure, and there is an increasing number of companies that, besides experts in research centers, increasingly involve the users. With the Design Thinking approach, digital consultants who increasingly apply this ubiquitous method, can get feedback on the service prototype and modify and adapt to user needs on time.

When a laboratory is not sufficient Laboratory approach is great when you are not working on the product for the first time, but lack of experience and “digital” thinking has proved too many times as a cause of initial failure. Digital consultants already know what will resonate with potential customers and what will not. Initially, it is not bad to empower the workgroup and strengthen the capacity with several advisors that will reduce the number of failed solutions.

Digitization processes today have no alternative. Digital consulting is the answer of the consulting sector to this burning topic. The traditional question of when to call a consultant is as old as consulting. And while you decide to postpone certain issues, it is clear that delay in transformation processes can sometimes be decisive for survival. Hence, we hope that previous tips will be useful so that the time spent on failure will be reduced to the lowest level.

Experts-on-demand services increasingly change the way companies engage and manage their workforce. Such a service enables businesses quick and easy access to highly qualified and experienced independent experts. By applying modern technology, the future of the workforce is changed and enables the ability to complement the skills for a shorter period or just one project. Encouraged by the growth of experts-on-demand, the workplace of the future will be very flexible and will consist of mixed teams – permanent employees and independent external, on-demand experts.

The total number of self-employed persons (freelancers) makes about 15% of the total number of people employed throughout the European Union. The largest increase in the number of freelancers is in the Netherlands, where the number has increased by as much as 92% in the past 10 years. The Italians have 23.4% of self-employed professionals, and in Slovakia, whose market is roughly similar to Croatian in size, every 9th person is a freelancer. Currently, around 35% of freelancers are present in Russia and the United States, while a steep trend in self-employment is underway in the United States. It is estimated that up to 50% of the total workforce in the US  will be self-employed by 2020.

Permanent recruit or expert -on-demand

When a company intends to hire a new specialist, it is customary to start the recruitment process. This process is usually long-lasting and expensive. A job is advertised, applications are collected, and candidates are evaluated. We then give a job offer to the selected candidate, and if accepted, then a probationary period begins. Then his training may take several months before we can enable a person to do a productive job. Alternatively, using an expert-on-demand service makes this process significantly shorter and cheaper. The company can quickly and easily connect with an expert, and those selected engage through a contract for the duration of a project or need, or through a fixed-term contract. When the project finishes, the expert is easily redirected to the next project or employer by leveraging the high flexibility of business relationships.

More Equitable Employer – Employer Relationship

 Traditionally, a company’s organization was built in a hierarchy where employees are subordinate to employers. Employees apply for a job in the company and must earn their salaries. However, the workplace of the future is based on the mutual need of the company and independent experts. On the one hand, experts offer their specific skills, expertise, and experience across the technology platform, while on the other hand, companies are looking for specific experts at a particular time. In this way, companies can quickly and easily find a needed project team member, without the need for a long-term employment process and with much less risk of a wrong choice. On the other hand, experts enjoy the flexibility of working outside of the often strictly organized organizational structure, with greater freedom to choose places, dynamics and work time.

Experts-on-demand  are not replacing but upgrading existing employees

Expert-on-demand services are not an alternative to permanent employees in the company. Rather, they complement and empower them, filling in all the limitations of the skills, experiences, and knowledge required. Companies can thus take advantage of sharing economies through mixed teams in which independent, on-demand experts integrate with the employees to secure the required set of competencies. This allows the company to save time, money and stress, and employees are more satisfied because this enables them to focus on applying their own expertise instead of covering the team’s lack of competence. However, mistakes can happen. Previous experience suggests that the biggest mistake the company make with experts-on-demand when management seeks team members on short notice. It can then easily be mistaken with the duplication of skills that already exist within the company or by employing more external experts than needed. These mistakes unnecessarily increase the cost of the project and will probably upset the employees. By combining permanent employees and independent experts-on-demand, companies must be sure they invest only in specific skills that their in-house teams do not own. To avoid some of the mistakes that companies often make, it is essential to have a comprehensive overview of the key skills of the employees and to carefully identify the competencies that need to be strengthened by on-demand experts. No less important advantage of mixed teams is the flexibility to change team members according to project needs at any time. The key to creating cost-effective teams high-performance teams is to thoroughly assess the specific requirements for the skills required for the project, and determine which of them cannot be met by your internal team.

The large increase in demand for experts-on-demand already today significantly influences the future of work in Europe and the world. Specialized sites offering such services record a very large increase in registered specialists for various areas and functions.

Procjenjuje se da 84% svih digitalnih transformacija ne završe uspješno. To se događa iz mnogo razloga, a jedan od ključnih je organizacijski otpor promjenama tj. izazovi prilagodbe načina razmišljanja zaposlenika potrebnog za poslovanje u digitalnom dobu. Primjena Design Thinkinga pokazuje se kao najbolji izbor kod prilagodbe organizacije na nove poslovne modele i primjenu digitalnih alata. Njime osiguravamo bolju uspješnost digitalne transformacije poslovanja prilagođene čovjeku i njegovim potrebama. Stoga Design Thinking ubrzano postaje neizbježno pomagalo za digitalnu transformaciju organizacija širom Hrvatske, Europe i svijeta.

Izazovi digitalne transformacije

Disruptivne tehnologije, promijene ponašanja kupaca, te mijenjanje gospodarskih i političkih prilika dovele su do složenih izazova koji zahtijevaju inovativne pristupe koji do danas nisu bili uobičajeni u poslovanju. U namjeri da brže identificiraju nove poslovne prilike i bolje implementiraju digitalnu transformaciju poslovanja, mnoge organizacije svjesne su da u današnjem dinamičnom poslovnom svijetu više nije dostatno primijeniti tradicionalno razmišljanje u pronalaženju rješenja za poslovne izazove. Donedavno je analitičko razmišljanje bio osnovni temelj u pristupu rješavanju izazova koji su se pojavljivali u poslovanju. Ti su izazovi bili predvidljivi, linearni i dobro definirani, te su već postojali tijekom nekog vremenskog razdoblja. S druge strane, današnji digitalni svijet se brzo mijenja, te je prepun složenosti koje su nepredvidive, nelinearne, kaotične, i pojavljuju se brzo. To zahtijeva znatno drugačiji pristup tim novim izazovima, te suvremene metode i alate koji do sada nisu bili nužni u poslovanju.

Priprema zaposlenika pa onda tehnologija

Osim što se oslanja na veću primjenu suvremenih tehnologija u poslovanju, digitalna transformacija poslovanja temelji se na promijeni načina razmišljanja, kulture i mentalnog sklopa organizacije. Neki vjeruju da će promjenu mentalnog sklopa organizacije postići automatski kroz implementaciju novog IT rješenja, te da u tom procesu zaposlenici neće imati drugog izbora nego se prilagoditi tehnologiji. Međutim, upravo to je jedan od razloga zašto četiri od pet digitalnih transformacija poslovanja ne uspiju. Iskustvo pokazuje da samo otprilike 15% zaposlenika traže stalnu promjenu i lako se prilagođavaju, dok ostalih 85% uglavnom imaju različite razine otpora prema promjenama. Oni promjenu povezuju sa neizvjesnošću, propitivanje njihove individualne uloge u organizaciji ili pak u promijeni vide izravnu opasnosti za gubitak svog radnog mjesta. Stoga je za uspješnost digitalne transformacije iznimno važno pronaći način kako pripremiti zaposlenike za postupak transformacije i prilagodbu na promjene koje ona donosi. Nerijetko se na početku digitalne transformacije preskoči vrlo bitna analiza digitalne spremnosti organizacije koja je potrebna za bolju razumijevanje zaposlenika i njihove kapacitete za transformaciju. Jer često se ignorira činjenica da se ljudski um i ponašanje, a posljedično i korporativna kultura organizacije, ne može brzo prilagoditi planiranim promjenama, novoj organizaciji i procesima inovativnih poslovnih modela. Za to Design Thinking nudi kreativnije alate, metode i drugačiji pristup koji se u praksi zadnjih nekoliko godina pokazao efikasnim za pronalaženje rješenja za složene poslovne izazove.

Design Thinking mijenja mentalni sklop

Stoga se Design Thinking sve više koristi u poslovanju te se pojavljuje kao glavni sastojak uspješnih digitalnih transformacija poslovanja. Mnoge vodeće organizacije u Hrvatskoj, Europi i svijetu u raznim industrijama i sektorima uspješno primjenjuju Design Thinking ne samo kao pristup pri izradi novih proizvoda ili usluga, strategije i inovacije – već kao ključnu polugu za uspješniju digitalnu transformaciju poslovanja. Danas, suvremeni tržišni lideri koriste Design Thinking kako bi istražili kako klijenti i zaposlenici komuniciraju s organizacijom, što su njihove potrebe, motivacije i želje. Otkrivajući ono što ljudi zapravo rade, a ne ono što kažu, organizacije mogu bolje razumjeti vlastite potrebe te ih uskladiti s potrebama digitalnog doba. Proces Design Thinkinga pomaže zaposlenicima identificirati stvarne izazove digitalne transformacije za koje možda nisu znali, te ih usmjeriti prema inovativnim digitalnim i ne-digitalnim rješenjima koja tradicionalni analitičkim pristupom nisu mogli niti zamisliti. Nastavno tome, svaka digitalna transformacija poslovanja zahtjeva suradnju različiti dijelova organizacije kako bi se razvija jaka suradnja i tako identificirali ključni izazovi transformacije te razvila rješenja za njih.

Na kraju, uspješna digitalna transformacija poslovanja – uz primjenu Design Thinkinga i/li nekog drugog alata i pristupa – biti će uspješna samo kada je organizacija dobro pripremljena, koristi adekvatne alate i pristupe, te osigura podršku zaposlenika kroz stvaranje vještina i znanja potrebnih za digitalno doba. Design Thinking nudi najbolje alate za digitalnu transformaciju i adekvatnu promjenu korporativne kulture.