Onur Eroğlu talks about his experience at Boni Global, challenges of remote working during the pandemic, his personal motivations for working on Safe Steps and the future of location based services.
1- Tell us about your background.
I’m from Malatya and I grew up there until I was 18 years old. I graduated from Abdülkadir Eriş High School. Afterwards, I came to Istanbul to study geomatics engineering at ITU. During my studies, I was interested in indoor location based technologies, information modeling and geographic information systems. Currently I’m working on my thesis for my master’s degree and I investigate the relationship between these three topics.
2- How was your start with Boni Global and why did you join the company?
I joined Boni Global as a student because I was already interested in location based technologies that Boni Global was specialized in. It was my last year in university and I started working part time as an engineer. My duties were creating indoor maps and activating our location based services for our clients. After 8 months, I decided I was more interested in the business development side but knowing the technical side of location-based services really helped me in this position as well.
3- What was the idea behind Safe Steps and why did you want to be a part of this project?
All of us at the company had the motivation to somehow help our community in the fight against Corona, but I personally had an extra motivation because my wife, who is a nurse, was assigned to the COVID-19 service around the time we began developing the project. I was really upset because we know that medical staff are one of the most at risk groups in a health crisis. What we are doing with Safe Steps doesn’t completely stop the spread of the virus but it really helps to put it under control so that the spread is slowed down. Safe Steps allows you to create filliation reports and with these reports, you know who are at risk of contamination, you can start testing and treating them right away and get in the way of further spread so the more success we had, the sooner Özlem could return to her normal position and not be at risk.
4- What are your recommendations on doing business and sales in times of Corona?
Our product Safe Steps was developed to respond to the challenges of COVID-19 so currently we don’t have any issues with business development and sales since a lot of companies are looking for different solutions. But in the first 20 days, the projects I was working on that were about to be activated were shelved so if we hadn’t developed Safe Steps, we wouldn’t be able to make a sale for a while. We were lucky because we were able to use our expertise in location based technologies for a solution. Physical interactions are really important to investigate to fight corona and we specialize in location based services so we were able to pivot very quickly.
5- What were the issues you faced during this period of working remotely?
Working remotely was fine in the beginning, it was very comfortable to work from home but after a while, I started to notice that I was working much more. Since everyone is working from home, people can have a lot of meetings everyday which is good but sometimes we don’t have any time to sit down and actually develop projects and prepare proposals during the day, so we have to work on those after work hours when we finish meetings. In terms of team management, remote working is a part of our company culture and we were able to work remotely at times even before the pandemic. My job in business development allows me to work wherever I have my computer and it’s the same with my team so we didn’t really struggle coordinating.
6- Can you tell us about the success story with MESS and the interest from other companies toward this solution.
When we first got in contact with MESS, we were thinking about setting up and indoor navigation system for their building and these talks went on for about 2 years. After corona, that project was halted. When we came up with the COVID-19 solution, we immediately contacted MESS and we started working on the project so I think fostering a relationship with them was really helpful in the success of the project.
9- Can you tell us about the Huawei partnership?
6 months ago, I started a process of collaboration with Huawei. All of our systems and the quality of our different solutions were evaluated by Huawei and in the end, they awarded us with a certificate. We are currently Huawei’s only indoor location based services provider partner, we can work our systems with their wireless access points. I think this will be very beneficial for us in terms of providing location based services in the future.
10 – How are your estimations and predictions about the future (eg.of the company, the market, technology)?
Before the pandemic, location based services were seen as valuable but not essential by many businesses. Now, with the social distancing requirements, there is a lot more demand for these solutions and I think this change in thinking will continue even after the pandemic. We will use the same infrastructure and technologies for areas like zone management, work safety etc. Our target market is much more open to implementing these technologies now, and after the success we will have with MESS, I think even more companies will start investing in these types of location based solutions.