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Representatives of the IT industry from around the world discussed trends in loyalty, finance and telecommunications in Kraków at the Comarch User Group 2024

Comarch User Group brings together representatives from 40 countries and is an event that has become a tradition. " The only continent not represented here is Antarctica ", summed up one of the organizers when asked about the countries of origin of the participating guests. At the Comarch campus in Kraków's Czyżyny district, the company's CEO, Dr. Anna Pruska, guests in several languages and noted in her short speech that it was impossible to use them all.

- This year we will continue to consolidate our position on foreign markets and development
of our key solutions – announced Dr. Anna Pruska. – It is my goal to further strengthen Comarch's market position as a global ITsolution provider and to ensure that we will remain your IT partner throughout 2024 and beyond. She encouraged the conference participants to engage in factual discussions in one of Poland's most beautiful cities: "Let's celebrate the past and develop the future together."
Her speech kicked off two days of talks, presentations and the most interesting case studies from the industry. An exciting aspect of the conference was to look at the topics that are heavily featured in the media and everyday life and engage the IT industry. Often associated with coding, IT is actually about solving user problems in all areas of life, from shopping and travel to banking applications and even health. Demographics, the ubiquity of artificial intelligence and Generation Z appeared in various presentations.

The Comarch User Group is not only about networking and expert discussions, but also about showing the different faces of Kraków to the guests. On the first day, they saw the more industrial but green side of Czyżyny, where Comarch's headquarters are located (participants could visit the company's innovation zone). On the second day, they experienced the historic heart of the city, where the organizers chose Pałac Pod Baranami (Palace under the Rams), the International Cultural Center and the Grand Hotel this year.
The critical value of the Comarch User Group is pragmatism and the ability to have a global view of the loyalty, telecommunications and financial markets from the perspective of those who use the latest technology to meet real customer needs. This is why the event enjoys such excellent attendance.

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Economics and Telecommunications in Kraków at Comarch User Group 2024

Customer experience first - Loyalty trends and challenges

Almost everyone deals with loyalty programs on a daily basis. We rarely think about what is inside and why a program is structured in a certain way. David Fieldman, Global Chairman of the Loyalty Summit and Managing Partner at Catchit Loyalty spoke about how best practices from the travel industry can be applied to other business areas to turn a loyalty program into a revenue stream. According to him, loyalty generation is based on good practice based on a clear strategy and data analysis from consumer behavior and experiences. " The real value of any loyalty program lies in its ability to stimulate changes in customer behavior ", he summarized.

The loyalty panel focused mainly on case studies of collaborations carried out by Comarch's specialist team over the years and expert debates. Olivier Martinet, CEO of Posidonia Consulting, Athanasios Sbonias, Head of Customer Experience at HelleniQ Energy, and Sami Nachawati, Consulting Manager at Comarch, discussed the development of loyalty programs in fuel trading in connection with the transformation of electric vehicles. Case studies on the implementation of loyalty schemes for various customers were presented, including collaborations with JetBlue Airways and building loyalty through unforgettable experiences thanks to the joint efforts of Comarch and Globe Telecom. A remarkable original topic was to launch a loyalty program from scratch in the dynamic African market for the recognized brand Asante Rewards.

We focused not only on delivering the highest promise of benefits to customers, but also on ensuring that their experience comes first in all our decisions. This meant giving customers the best experiences at every step , explained Dharmesh Bhana, Executive of Loyalty & Rewards at NedBank, whose loyalty program, which rewards users for effective financial management, was renewed thanks to Comarch.

Financial services - from philosophy and literature to IT pragmatism

Andrzej Przewięźlikowski, Comarch's vice president, opened the discussion with CUG 2024 participants from the financial and insurance sectors by quoting Heraclitus: “ Change is the only constant in life.
He referred to the large number of global changes recently, which significantly affect all aspects of business operations, especially the financial sector. He asked the audience if they had heard the term "lockdown" before 2020, which is now used in various contexts, or if they had ever before paid so much attention to artificial intelligence, which has been around for decades. He also emphasized the role of new regulations and directives that affect every little part of the business – their intensity is also new for entrepreneurs.
The task of software developers is to help customers navigate the new reality of IT solutions. Comarch reacts quickly to changes and constantly modifies its portfolio to implement them.

Alexandru Calin of Groupe Societe Generale quoted Mark Twain: “ It's not what you don't know that kills you; that is what you surely know is not true.”
This quote helped lead the audience through a story about the IT process he called “From drawing board to production,” the management path required to create effective solutions that meet user expectations.

Anna Grechowicz-Dorosz from Credit Agricole Bank Polska SA and Krzysztof Ziomek from EFL Group presented a comprehensive banking ecosystem created with Comarch's support, which combines two systems without having to build everything from scratch. This approach significantly shortened the time to market for the new system. They emphasized that at the current rate of change, holding on to old solutions is not just standing still but going backwards. Platformization is the best way, which provides many advantages for the bank and allows individual customization of benefits for the customer.

Tomasz Jędroszkowiak and Małgorzata Moderacka from the Comarch Insurance sector showed the projected population age in selected parts of the world in 2030. Not only Europe will get older, and this will have a significant impact on the insurance industry. Therefore, this must be taken into account when planning IT solutions.

Bradley Jones of Comarch UK looked at insurance from a completely different angle. He discussed how the industry is changing under Generation Z. Social media, which follows young people around the clock, plays a huge role. Without actively using them, insurance companies cannot seriously consider serving this generation. He also presented data highlighting the increased importance of mental health for young people, which needs to be considered from the front line of insurance applications.

Telecommunications – The era of new technology

Marcin Kaleta, Comarch's vice president, introduced the participants to telecommunications issues. He presented the current structure of the sector and discussed development plans, especially in foreign markets, which were strongly represented at the event in Kraków by Comarch's customers and partners.

“The Era of New Technologies” was the theme of a presentation by Toni Eid, founder of one of the most famous media platforms, Telecom Review, covering North America, Asia-Pacific, Africa, the Middle East and Europe. “5G technology has ushered in a new era of connectivity, providing many real use cases far beyond faster download speeds. From widespread IoT device deployment to the development of smart cities, autonomous vehicles and advanced healthcare solutions, 5G is not just about speed but about revolutionizing the way people live and work, says Toni Eid.

Dr. Andrzej Cwik from 450Connect discussed a new type of telecommunications company, with specific goals and seeking a different collaboration with software providers than those dominating the market. 450Connect is a German company with four shareholders, established to create a high availability network with guaranteed continuity and relatively few services offered, low complexity and innovativeness. These are telecommunications networks organized as security networks, which ensure availability in crises and for priority government institutions and critical suppliers such as police and fire brigades, military and electricity and water suppliers.

Therefore, they seek a new form of partnership with software providers that emphasize high efficiency, stability and resilience. Dr. Cwik highlighted Comarch's four advantages in this regard: experience in delivering Telco network management software, simplicity, completeness and complementarity of the offering with a clearly defined structure, unified origin of solutions directly from the software provider, together with excellent competencies and extensive experience of Comarch -employees.

Tymoteusz Wrona, Head of Presales in Telecommunications Division at Comarch, spoke about the transition from TelCo to TechCo. Today, telecommunications is not just about selling connections. The key is products based on proprietary and partner solutions, which incorporate artificial intelligence, including ML and GenAI. The transition from closed telecommunications protocols to recommended IP standards and virtualization in the cloud environment plays an important role, enabling deeper and seamless integration with subcontractors, partners and even competing solutions.

How to generate profits using artificial intelligence?

The debate on monetization and safety of AI, led by technology blogger and podcast author “Technofobia” Artur Kurasiński, will undoubtedly remain in the memories of the participants. It featured Dominika Bettman, General Manager of Microsoft in Poland, Agnieszka Bochacka, Digital Transformation Expert at PwC, and Comarch specialists Marek Kuczyński, Head of Intelligent Assurance & Analytics, and Maria Wróblewska, AI Solutions Coordinator.

Dominika Bettman from Microsoft emphasized that the benefits of using AI in a company are not always purely financial:

“AI monetization is also related to increasing employee productivity. It doesn't have to be directly about money. It can also be about freeing up time for employees to perform other tasks.”

Marek Kuczyński explained that when considering AI solutions, one must always consider integration costs:“If you want to implement AI solutions, you always have to consider the cost of integration and the fact that they bring huge benefits. AI algorithms give us hints or important information about the source of problems, which makes the work much easier.”
During the finance panel, President Andrzej Przewięźlikowski rightly noted that everyone is currently talking about and wanting artificial intelligence. However, it is better to leave the field to IT professionals so that AI can make deep sense in business and provide real benefits.

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