25 years ago, when everyone was deepening and seeking expertise in one field, he realized that dealing with a single issue had bored him. He understood intuitively that people, companies, even industries must be interconnected. He saw that the data was the rising value. Salim Büge is working for the growth of the mobility ecosystem in the team that carries forward the connected vehicle platform Comodif, where all these are gathered together. It tells how the systems that everyone won are set up.

Salim Büge

When everyone was zeroing in one area and pursuing expertise, 25 years ago Salim Büge realized dealing with a single subject bored him. He intuitively understood that people, companies, and even sectors should be connected. He saw that data is a rising value. Today Salim Büge is working on the growth of the mobility ecosystem in the team that is taking Comodif, the connected vehicle platform, one step further, where all this is combined. He explains how to build systems where everyone wins.

Business development varies by the business. What exactly are you doing in Comodif?

When I started working here a year and a half ago, Comodif was a start-up. As it was expanding, new human resources were needed. I first worked as an external consultant, then I joined the team. The concept of mobility and connected vehicle platforms are constantly transforming, and my job description is updated accordingly. Sales, software, data, customer relations ... Since I have some experience in all of them, I work as a connection agent so that the elements that make up Comodif can communicate with each other both internal and external.

We will get to your previous experience later, but why are you at Comodif? Rather than what contribution you have to this place, what value does it add to you?

Probably he doesn’t know Ömer Burhanoğlu, CEO of Farplas, had a great influence. He said “We do not fight with anyone, but we do stand for our rights” This is a stance I have adopted in business life. Team spirit, pursuit of a common goal, these are very important to me. These all come before money or titles. As a matter of fact, this is not something special to me, research shows that what motivates employees is not the money, but common goals.

Did you have any automotive experience before?

No, I didn’t. But different perspectives are very valuable in connected vehicle platforms. I had some experience with connected vehicles. I worked in Koç Group for many years. When Koç System, part of Koç Group, was developing a project  and were seeking support among the group “We developed a vehicle tracking system, but we can’t make it to be operational”, I worked on that project for five years. That project became up and running. Then, when I started my consultancy business, Egemen (Alpay), a friend of mine from high school said "We are exploring and focusing on connected vehicle business, let's work together.", that’s how I stared working with Comodif.

What did you do before you start at Fark Labs?

I studied ITU Electrical Engineering. It was the right choice, I can imagine abstract things better. I can't draw the mechanical drawings and schematics of a machine that I see, my head works to understand and realize the circuits and current of electricity much faster. I started working when I was studying. I was working as a security at Delta Airlines. I got up at 3 in the morning and went to work, I was getting acquainted with business life with jobs that were like internships. By the way, I have always been in to sports since high school. I was playing basketball in the Efes Star Team, volleyball in the school team, and football with friends. I had to quit when I got injured.

You will become an engineer anyway.

I did an internship in the third grade and realized that I did not want to do electrical engineering. It was more suitable for me to be on the commercial side. I completed an MBA at Koç University. It shaped my life in a sense, and I started working at the newly established Koç.net at that time. It was then that I decided that business development was the best position for me. In this way, you have many opportunities. Some people prefer to focus on the job and be an expert in what they do, I get bored with it. I like working with different people in different projects. I like networking.

Your character trait coincides with today’s need for a person that connects the dots.

Exactly. Nowadays you can see the need quite clearly, but at that time there were few people that could connect and bond just like glue. It was not yet clear that this was not only about technical aspects, but that all parties had to talk to each other and understand. Today, not only inter-departmental, but also inter-company and inter-sectoral dialogue is gaining importance. I started as a business developer at Koç.net, and I have almost always done business development until today.

That brought us to now.

Yes. They said the vehicle tracking system is not working, come and fix it. This was in 2005. We managed to make it work. We created a market that was not yet shaped. Then we worked on sound technologies. While there was no such thing as Shazam in our lives, we dreamed of something similar.

Seeing the demand, as a matter of fact foreseeing it. Developing something that doesn’t exist. This requires vision.

It is also exhausting. Instead of marketing something for the current demand, I always thought we should talk about something that doesn’t exist yet, let’s sell it, it’s going to be very useful. Then I started my own consulting company. It was a time when I discovered the importance of data and I entered the path that led me to Comodif. I started consulting Comodif, later I joined the team.

When did you realize the importance of data?

May not early enough, in 2013. It was a period when I started to think about how we can develop different business models and high value businesses from data. I have seen that even major airlines do not have control over their own sales data. However, data, especially invisible data is extremely valuable because it is not easy to make it visible.

What does invisible data mean? What does it mean to make it visible?

Let me give an example from our work.

Nobody but me knows that I started driving from Bodrum 6 hours ago and that I was driving very fast on the road. They also do not know that I have been going for 6 hours without a stop, approaching a gas station with a coffee shop. This is invisible data. There is the data, but nobody knows about, but thanks to systems like Comodif, we detect this data and forward it to both the gas station, the vehicle manufacturer and the coffee shop.

For now, I mentioned one individual and three different stakeholders. Through Comodif, the vehicle manufacturer can say: You are approaching a gas station, there is a coffee shop inside, take a break, coffee on us.

Why can't the gas station, coffee shop or vehicle manufacturer access this data themselves? Why do they need Comodif?

Good question. It is not easy to measure and process correctly. Especially for large companies. You need to be agile. Companies like Comodif are advantageous in this respect, because this is our only job. But more importantly, let's say they measured it, they only look at this data from their own perspective. However, in the example above, there is a gas station, a coffee shop and a vehicle manufacturer. They can only benefit when they come together. Since the coffee is free, the driver enters the gas station, gets gas from there, and makes other purchases. This is exactly what we call win-win philosophy. Add banks, insurance companies, brands selling auto accessories, spare parts sellers to this, this is what we call the ecosystem.

Where do you see Comodif?

We are developing collaborations, some which have already initiated. Turkcell-Kopilot, TOFAŞ-Yol Arkadaşım, Renault-Motrio are three of them. As I said, the more the ecosystem grows, the greater the benefit. Technically we have full knowledge on the subject, we are working to expand the ecosystem. You get a message on your phone, discount on spare parts for vehicles over 4 years old. If your car doesn’t need maintenance at that time, you will not pay attention to it. Or if you do need maintenance but you are not around the repair shop. This is a wasted message. However, when you measure the data accurately and in real time, you send an on the point message. Your customer wins and you win. Let me give one more example. It may not be worthwhile to send a message to a car owner to buy a bigger car, out of the blue, but this offer is more likely to turn into sales when the car owner has a child. How do we know if the car owner has a child? We look at our data at Comodif and see that he spends more time at the playgrounds on weekends. We combine this with the date of marriage data from the vehicle manufacturer. Again, it turns out that there is a benefit for both the vehicle manufacturer and the customer. Add to this the brands that sell car accessories for children, the benefit increases.

How benefits do the insurance companies provide to their customers?

They want to reward the good drivers, but they don't want to lose the bad driver while doing this. For example, they want to score the points according to speed limits. They want to lower the insurance premium of the person who follows the rules. But it is necessary to construct this correctly. The speed limit is 80, our driver goes with 60. Normally this driver's premium shouldn't be increased, right? But you don't know that, the rest of the road is at a halt, so everyone on the road stops, but driver is still going with 60. The driver is probably going on the safety lane. This requires real-time and accurate measurement of data.

Let me give one more example. Let's say there was a hail storm, vehicles were damaged, everyone claimed from their insurance and got their money. But where was this vehicle during the hail storm? The insurer needs to know this so they can only pay for vehicles damaged from the hail. Insurance companies do not know this today.

This also brings to mind the concept of confidentiality of our privacy. Nobody wants to be tracked that much.

Of course, there is such an issue. But precisely for this reason, we provide value. You receive messages only when you need them, not all the time. If we offer the right service to the right person at the right time, which is Comodif's ultimate goal, people will want to be tracked.

Moreover, laws are regulated, and personal data is protected much more tightly. You can stop receiving messages when you don't want to. On the one hand, blockchain technology is also improving. The individual will be able to collect all his data in a certain place, and open and close access to it at any time.

So you say we have to be connected.

Not only for business, but also for life. Unless people interact with others, they will find themselves pushed aside and more excluded. I believe in that spiritually. Everything interacts with each other, and people have to organize their own life cycles, cultures and social lives accordingly. We are all part of a whole, good doing will increase the good, and evil doing will increase the evil.