Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric, sums up the present situation as follows: “If you went to bed last night as an industrial company, you’re going to wake up this morning as a software and analytics company.”
At the beginning of a new year, future prospects are always a hot topic: What does 2019 have up its sleeve? How will the business environment and competition in the sector develop? Are we ready for the digitalization of business operations that Jeff Immelt so aptly described, and the resulting changes? In other words, what challenges will we face from the digital transformation?
Rather than being a project with a clearly defined beginning and end, digitalization of business operations is a continuous process that develops customer service, boosts the efficiency of projects, and at its best creates new business. Most companies have already set off on their digitalization journey. However, some of these journeys are progressing rapidly while others are progressing less rapidly. The most common questions for the companies still thinking of starting of the journey are: How do we start? What is the first step?
The most important question to answer is, of course: What do we want to achieve? What is the added value to be gained by digitalizing customer service or processes? Once this has been decided, the next step is to specify the use of data. Analytics offer completely new dimensions for understanding customers, enabling better services and boosting the efficiency of various kinds of processes. It makes no difference whether the processes are related to financial or personnel management, production, or marketing. Generally, it is not a good idea to eat the cake whole but to progress piece by piece.
However, I believe that 2019 will be the year when artificial intelligence (AI) makes its breakthrough in Finland. Practical and reliable AI solutions that use data efficiently will serve business and subsequently the everyday lives of all of us. We have leading AI expertise in Finland that enables us to enhance our competitiveness also on the international markets.
However, we must remember that digitalization, such as the introduction of AI solutions, is not only about IT projects but often also involves a profound cultural change. To achieve success, any silos within organizations must be eliminated. It is not enough for the management to understand the new operating models - the entire organization must speak the same language. Only then can information derived from data through analytics or AI, for example, be used in decision-making in all processes and at all levels. Once we achieve this, we will be ready to face the increasing competition of the coming years and the challenges related to the constant change needs of business.
All the best for a digitalization journey full of inspiration!