“Our products are very unique because we have identified that there are no such products on the market. We are not trying to develop a wheel. We are always trying to do something new.” Our CEO Peter Dostal said in an interview for daily news Hospodarske noviny
Read the online version of the interview here:
hnonline.sk – nesnazime-sa-vyvinut-koleso-chceme-urobit-nieco-nove English version bellow:
How to call from a mobile to a military vehicle? This was also explained to us by Peter Dostál, CEO of Aliter Technologies.
Can we find your products anywhere in the world?
We participate in the largest armory fairs. As far as exports are concerned, I find it hard to say where our products are used, because when we supply them to NATO agencies, they can use them to operate anywhere in the world. Much has been written about Afghanistan, our products are used there. They are also used in Canada and Estonia. Of course, wherever NATO has its bases, that is, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Italy, you will find some of our products. I suppose even in the United States.
What is your best product? Do you have a flagship?
Yes, we even have two flagships. They are green boxes that at first glance may seem lame to the layman, but at the same time they are very specific because they have no competition in the market. It would be very difficult to find a similar product from another manufacturer in the world. One of them is called DCU (Data Control Unit), which provides data integration of various military radio networks. The second product addresses the voice connection of military radio networks with civilian networks. In practice, it looks like, for example, a general in his office picks up a standard cell phone and invokes a combat vehicle.
How exactly does it work if someone would like to order such a product? Could I, for example, order it and have it sent cash on delivery?
That certainly doesn’t work. I have to say that some of our products are military materials, which means that if you want to purchase them, you must have an end user license issued by the government. However, we have dual-use products and we also have civilian products. In that case, we would be able to offer them and address your inquiry, but we usually offer our products through public procurement.
Are you also subject to control to someone in case your product is bought by someone who can abuse it?
Certainly yes. Of course, there is also international regulation for this. In Slovakia, it is the responsibility of the Ministry of the Economy, which issues a license for trading in military equipment and subsequently regulates this activity. For each trade abroad we need permission from this authority.
In recent years you have had positive economic results. Do you plan to expand or expand your operations?
We have been doing this for a long time and we have been active in Europe and North America. We strive to identify potential acquisition targets that would help us expand our portfolio of customers or technology. We are not financial investors who do not know what to do with their money. We are not investing in anything unrelated to our business, but we are trying to go along the path of synergy. At this moment the market is rather a seller, it is more difficult for buyers to find an interesting company. However, we have several startups. Today, we have a majority stake in a drone manufacturing company, as they are also closely linked to ICT in field conditions. We have also invested in a cloud technology company in Canada. Data centers were built in the past, but today everyone wants to get rid of this responsibility and take advantage of shared cloud services when security permits. Of course, the Ministry of Defense may hardly go somewhere in the cloud, but we also have other customers who would like to take advantage of that flexibility.
Is the competition in your segment high globally?
It’s relative. We have no competition in Slovakia. There is something to be found in the Czech Republic, but we are far from having 100% penetration. To my knowledge, we don’t have 100% penetration with any company in the world. I can count two to three companies, usually from Scandinavia, which have 70 to 80 percent of our portfolio.
Why the armament industry? Was it a hole in the market?
Exactly. From the beginning, I recruited people who had worked for many years in the Ministry of Defense, had experience from abroad, worked on various missions in Brussels, Norfolk, various combat missions, and so on. They had great experience in the use of ICT technology in the real military world. And on the other hand, there was me and some of my colleagues who had a strong technical background and learned to communicate with each other. You asked me about the flagship. Both products are unique precisely because we have identified that there is no such product on the market. We are not trying to reinvent the wheel. It is not important for us to develop something that is already developed, because it is very expensive. We always try to do something new that the competition follows, but we are already ahead of the market and dictate the conditions.
hnonline.sk – nesnazime-sa-vyvinut-koleso-chceme-urobit-nieco-nove English version bellow:
Made in Slovakia and successful abroad. HN looked at Slovak products that succeeded abroad.
“There is no command without a connection.” The old military proverb reminds us of the newly refurbished office space on the Mlynske Nivy, Peter Dostál, director of Aliter Technologies. It manufactures so-called information and communication technologies for soldiers and police officers.
What exactly does this miraculous Slovak export to the world look like? In the words of the director, they are green metal boxes, which may seem drab to a layman. In fact, they are very specific devices that are virtually unrivaled in the world.
The Slovak-Canadian company now has subsidiaries in the Czech Republic and the Balkans. Their customers are NATO agencies, organizations within the United Nations, as well as the Canadian and Estonian Ministries of Defense. The company’s products are purchased by large companies such as Airbus, General Dynamics, Ericsson and BAE Systems.
From banking to the army
After finishing college, young Peter Dostál went to try his luck across the ocean. In Canada, he worked for big companies, experienced the banking world and finally ended up in state administration. He was first introduced to the army after arriving in Slovakia in 2005, whilst undertaking a major defense project. “Although I was working for the federal police in Canada, I never had any experience with the military. By emigrating after school, I did not attend compulsory military service,” said the director with a smile. During his stay in Canada, he gained important contacts, which he later exploited when establishing a technology company. However, the experience gained in the project was also important. “I found that there were two groups of people in the market – one was a group of computer scientists and technologists who could design products. On the other hand, there was a potential customer base with very specific requirements. Each of them spoke with a different language and could not establish closer cooperation,” he said. There was an opportunity to set up a business with the prospect of success in international markets.
Since its inception, people with many years of experience in the armed forces have been involved in the company, who have had experience on missions and are able to assess the use of technology in the real military world. A large part of the company’s portfolio consists of so-called information-communication technology, for example, as part of combat vehicles or as a place of command in a designated shelter. “Think of it as a data center in field conditions. When you need to establish a connection, ensure voice, video and data transmission, our components that make up the ICT infrastructure take care of it,” explains the director in front of the shelves displaying several, almost identical khaki-colored boxes. Meanwhile, the promotional video of the company featuring images from various world armament fairs is projected on the wall. “We exhibited from Rio de Janeiro through Abu Dhabi, Paris, London to the well-known Canadian fair Cansec. Exhibitions in Slovakia and the Czech Republic are also compulsory for us,” the director praises these achievements, while a scene with a “box” from a company submerged under water in an aquarium appears. “Prototypes are also tested in specialized testing institutes for dust and water tightness. Our facilities have no cooling holes, they must be cooled by the body itself,” added Dostál. Electronics are by the way, being tested for US military standards.
The first product for end customers – Monse
In addition to these hard-to-reach items for ordinary mortals, the company has also begun to focus on the so-called business to customer (B2C) product. The initiative came from the Director’s own needs. “My mother is already in her seventies and she lives alone at home. I am very busy at work and I cannot communicate with her daily. I wondered if there was any system to monitor her without compromising her privacy. However, I have not found one in Slovakia.” He started to develop the system he called MONSE (short for senior monitoring) with a smaller team. It is a set of sensors to monitor the daily routine of a senior and should alert relatives when the routine differs from normal. “Originally, we wanted to build the whole system combining the use of artificial intelligence, that is, it had to learn by itself. But, unfortunately, we have little data yet, we had to add application logic for now.” The device is currently in testing, but could be in retail by the end of the year.
Drones and airships
At the reception, visitors of the company are welcomed by a small exhibition of products, among which the dominant of the room stands out – the blue-white airship with the company logo. The director also talks about newer experimental projects, such as airships, which he believes have enormous potential in the industry. Not only because they are quiet, but also energy efficient. “Our airship flies on helium that is not flammable and when the ship arrives back at the base, the helium will be drawn back into the bottle through the filters,” said Peter Dostal. Their operation therefore has almost zero cost.
The economic results of the company have been rising steeply in recent years, giving space for experimenting and fulfilling its own ambitious dreams like MONSE or airships. Aliter Technologies has been peeking for years after making acquisitions and investing in several startups. One of them involves drones, which can be used for permanent connection to the source as well as static poles. Dostál sees such use not only in the military sector, but also, for example, to ensure security at football matches and demonstrations.
When we leave, the company escort will show us all the nooks and crannies of modern spaces, dominated by geometric shapes and cool colors, as if everything suggests that we are in a technology company. At the last stop Dostál describes to us the chill out zone, which the company has also set up in new premises. “You see, the requirements for an employer in the IT sector are increasing. But if you want to have a young workforce that will bring new ideas, then you must adapt,” the director concluded. Aliter Technologies also works intensively with universities, because young blood is an essential part of such a dynamically developing sector as IT, especially if you have a business whose name means “otherwise”.