Interview with Alex Maniatopoulos, CEO of Yodiwo

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Yodiwo is a European company specializing in cloud enterprise solutions that improve sustainability and maximize the return of every penny spent on private and public physical space. They have made their mission to leverage IoT and Machine Intelligence in solutions that boost the performance of corporate fixed assets and resources, in alignment with sustainability principles. Yodiwo offers scalable solutions for Smart Facilities, Smart Retail, and Smart Cities. Today, we interview Yodiwo CEO Alex Maniatopoulos. Here's what he told us. 

Tell us a few things about Yodiwo. How did it all start, and what exactly does the company offer?

Yodiwo provides cloud-based "Made-in-Greece" systems that improve the efficiency of commercial and industrial premises,  retail stores, urban systems, and infrastructure. Smart facilities are vital in reducing emissions, increasing profitability, facilitating mobility, enhancing productivity, and ensuring health and safety for people who work and move on these premises. 

Yodiwo is a Greek company in terms of its people, though headquartered in Sweden. How did this happen? It all started in 2015. We were a business unit of Samsung called Samsung Nanoradio Design Center (SNDC), operating both in Sweden and Greece. The business unit spun off from its former parent, and then its management team reached an agreement with Samsung and took over complete control and ownership, changing the name to Yodiwo. Since then, we have served some of the biggest Facility Management Service Providers (Engie, Veolia, VolkerWessels), System Integrators (Nokia, Avnet), Telcos (Cosmote, Vodafone), Retailers (Kotsovolos, Coffee Island), and municipalities (Nicosia, Södertälje).

In the past years, we have been rapidly developing our in-house Internet of Things platforms and Artificial Intelligence algorithms to help corporations and the public sector become sustainable in alignment with the principles of Environment, Sustainability & Governance (ESG).

What differentiates you from the rest of the industry? What value do you bring to your clients and partners?

With the profit center of our customers in mind, Yodiwo helps corporate and public organizations identify, activate, and realize opportunities for profitable growth related to space management. We are offering end-to-end yet modular, open, and scalable systems according to the needs of each customer. 

Yodiwo has developed a multifaceted Infrastructure Management Platform focusing on maximizing energy efficiency, facilitating predictive maintenance, reducing the cost and time of managing infrastructure, and providing optimal working and living conditions for any building – from industrial to commercial and even entire cities. Yodiwo owns 100% of the code of the products and holds a US patent (US20190068452A1) for the platform. This enables us to fully control the platform and meet the customization needs of our customers with great flexibility.

A variant of the above product targets store chains. Our Space & Category Management Platform helps retailers make optimal decisions about the use of their store space to maximize sales by creating a best-in-class shopper experience and developing a well-recognized omnichannel identity.

In March 2022, Yodiwo celebrated the three winning entries at the IoT Awards by Boussias – a leading business technology publisher in Greece: a Gold Award for YodiFEM – our smart buildings software –   in the Building Optimization category, as well as both a Gold and Silver Award for YodiCITY – in the Smart Parking and Waste Management categories respectively.

Yodiwo's platforms are a dynamic source of information for organizations who wish to track their ESG performance, facilitating the production of custom reports and monitoring the relevant KPIs.

What would you consider to have been (or are) your biggest challenge so far?

It may sound cliché, but the biggest challenges were and remain the Covid-19 pandemic and the energy crisis. They require adaptability, flexibility, and new ways of managing infrastructure, equipment, and people. In fact, the need for sustainable, safe, and financially viable businesses is driving innovation in smart systems and cutting-edge technologies. 

To ensure ongoing success, we needed to think and move fast, to be open to new partnerships and data sharing for flexible solutions to our customers' unique, overlapping requirements. Such requirements included managing considerably high energy and maintenance costs, spaces that guarantee the safety, health, and comfort of their occupants, administering a hybrid working model, access to data and performance statistics, etc. 

The company responded quickly and developed services aimed at more efficient space management, focusing on maximizing energy efficiency, facilitating predictive maintenance, reducing the cost and time of managing infrastructure, and providing optimal working and living conditions. 

What are the biggest learnings from your journey so far?

Our initial dream was to build an IoT platform, serving everyone willing to develop an IoT application or solution. We then understood that to scale up, we should invest in developing vertical applications with a clear value proposition instead of providing the IT community with tools to make it on their own. This approach saves capital, but it also significantly reduces the time needed to develop creative, innovative solutions. It helped us focus more on specific industries, meet with field experts, and understand their challenges, problems, wishes, and needs.

Commitment to continuous improvement, forward-thinking, and experimentation is key to our success! We have learned to listen actively and cater to our customers' and partners' needs, being flexible and always seeking out exchanges of experience in our field.

Would you tell us a few things about the fundamental concepts of industry 5.0? To what extent and in what terms is industry 5.0 an evolution of industry 4.0? 

Industry 5.0 should not be understood as a replacement or an alternative, but as evolution and logical continuation of the existing Industry 4.0 paradigm. The technologies at the core of Industry 5.0 are largely congruent with Industry 4.0, while a stronger focus on human-centered technologies forms the basis for Industry 5.0.

The core idea behind Industry 5.0 is to choose technologies based on an ethical rationale of how those support human values and needs and not only based on what they can achieve from a purely technical or economic perspective. Technologies such as human-machine-interfaces, merging human brain capacities with Artificial Intelligence, or collaboration with robots and machines are used to generate products and services. The latter can be further tailored to customer needs, reduce environmental impact, and fulfill ambitions such as closed loops, energy self-sufficiency, emission-neutrality, or the Circular Economy.

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