“When one discovers the impact of technology, the global scope of innovation, how it advances societies and is so critical to business, that’s when you know that the tech sector is now and will always be one of the most exciting industries in the world,” proclaims Kimmo Alkio, president and CEO of TietoEVRY, the Nordic software and services company.
Alkio has been traversing the world of technology since he graduated from Texas A&M University in the 1980s. He started his tech career with Digital Equipment Corporation (later acquired by Compaq), followed by F-Secure and Nokia before joining the former Tieto in 2011.
“Those who’ve been in this industry for a while have seen how we’ve been through a large learning curve across different technologies, different business models, and evolving ways of working,” Alkio said. “This experience, along with the development of close customer relationships, are the foundations for success in the field.”
Change has been constant throughout Alkio’s career. He had just wrapped up Tieto’s merger with EVRY (in December 2019) when society shut down shortly after, prompted by the Covid-19 outbreak. Alkio describes it as an exciting but challenging time.
“The dual forces of a life-changing pandemic and a newly settled merger posed an opportunity for us to question our old habits, to learn how to engage virtually with employees across the globe, and maintain and even intensify the activity levels with customers,” he said.
Technology tops the agenda for most companies, at all levels.
Technology is no longer only in the domain of the CTO or CIO, but it has found its rightful place in the CEO realm as well. This has shifted the dialogues, according to Alkio, and companies are asking now how to find new growth opportunities and how to differentiate and improve their customer experience through better use of technology and data.
“Our clients are asking how they can improve efficiency, often in connection to their legacy architecture, so that they can make room to fund new digital investments,” he said.
The appetite for digital adoption seems to know no boundaries, Alkio adds, but it’s often easier said than done. Companies require digital competence and a broader understanding of how to extract value from data to optimize their operations – especially with the aim to become more sustainable and cost efficient.
Three principles essential for companies in their quest to be more digital and more sustainable:
1. Technology is at the core of every business. It’s no longer an enabler; it’s the foundation for everything. Advanced technologies are continuously enabling smarter ways to use data.
2. Ensure that technology becomes a contributor for better user experiences, better products and services, higher growth potential, and continuous improvements to the sustainability (ESG) agenda.
3. Modernizing your technology backbone helps you to develop the business, speed up time-to-market, and increase flexibility. It also requires taking a holistic view to technology, considering business and human perspectives along with cloud capabilities, data management and engineering, AI, and advanced analytics, and – last but not least – promoting a culture of continuous learning.
Most companies want to reap the rewards of digitalization fast, but Alkio warns that time to impact often takes longer than anticipated.
“But when it happens, the impact will be bigger than originally anticipated,” he said. “The focus is shifting from developing more efficient products faster to innovating new business models and delivering differentiating experiences to end customers. This requires agile development cycles with a clear business outcome in mind – minimum viable products and proofs of concept are paving the way for the transformation.”
Some of the technologies that Alkio believes are about to enter the mainstream are edge computing and augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR).
“The good news is that many industrial companies are already using VR learning and computer vision in the field,” he said. “And this marks the beginning of a very positive innovation curve.”
New developments are on the horizon in the tech world, but that’s just the nature of the business to which Alkio has devoted his career.
“I find the possibilities with technology extremely meaningful in developing businesses and societies – and providing opportunities for continuous learning for all of us.”
Tune in to Kimmo Alkio’s Ignite Talks session, Toward a Circular Economy: Technology as an Enabler for Transformation and Sustainability, on Wednesday, September 22 at 18:30 CEST.
Kimmo’s TietoEVRY colleague at TietoEVRY Norway, Christian Pedersen, Managing Director, will also appear in the Ignite Talk, Time to leverage the vision of Industry 4.0, at 17:00 CEST on September 22. Register for access to all sessions here.