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Finnish firms are front and centre of digitalisation

Switching from analogue to digital work processes is definitely not without its challenges, with reports suggesting as many as 70 per cent of attempts at digital transformation fail.

Mikko Törmänen / Business Finland

Companies in Finland are supporting digital transformations in fields ranging from education to healthcare and wellbeing with the help of fresh ideas, funding and partners.

Auntie Solutions, a Helsinki-based startup providing preventative psychological support and therapy services to corporate employees, in December announced it will bolster its internationalisation with the help of a 10 million-euro investment from Verdane.

“Together with Verdane, we want to create a working life where mind care is commonplace, so that we can better cope in our daily lives,” outlinedMervi Lamminen, CEO of Auntie.

The low-threshold services provided by the startup are currently available in 20 languages and used by more than 300 organisations around the world that recognise the importance of employee wellbeing. The investment will enable the startup to build its teams both in and outside Finland, as well as make investments in technological tools to develop customer and employee experience.

“Our goal is to gain a significant foothold on the international market and, to support this, we are developing a unique digital platform for mental wellbeing services,” told Lamminen. “Being based [in] our homeland is a great asset to us, because if mental wellbeing is to be exported from any one country it must be Finland.”

Auntie impressed the growth equity investor particularly with its ability and commitment to deliver a technology-enabled approach that complements the personal service element, revealed Janne Holmia, partner at Verdane.

“Auntie is an international pioneer in its field that has succeeded in developing a proven solution to a key challenge of our time – maintaining the wellbeing of the mind,” he said.

Workfellow in December reported that it has wrapped up an almost 2.8 million-euro equity funding round led by OpenOcean, an early-stage venture capital firm with offices in London, Helsinki and Amsterdam.

The funding, it said, will be used to support growth and ramp up product and commercial operations.

The Espoo-based software developer has caught the attention of investors with a unique plug-and-play tool that enables enterprises to pinpoint the impact investments in digital transformations have on teamwork. The tool provides visibility on how the workflow impacts teams, creating a new layer of intelligence to inform data-driven collaborative decision-making.

Workfellow founders Kustaa Kivelä and Henri Wiik. Image: Workfellow

“Our tool provides the first solution on the market that goes beyond processes to inform how teams are using technology and how it impacts their teamwork, ultimately providing a way for business leaders and teams to have an entirely new conversation about work transformation that benefits everyone,” summarisedKustaa Kivelä, CEO of Workfellow.

Investments worth almost 800 million euros, the company highlighted, are effectively wasted every year given that around 70 per cent of digital transformation efforts fail.

Workfellow believes the failures stem largely from the fact that most efforts are implemented to employees through an engineered approach and lack of visibility on what is working and what is not. Its tool turns the tables by training the focus on how the teams are actually working to inform and steer decisions about digitalisation.

“We believe for too long there has been a gap in understanding the impact of digital technology and also how teams can use it to their advantage for improved work,” stated Kivelä.

Such problems, he added, are found in both companies that are only embarking on their digitalisation journey and companies that have already carried out numerous advanced automation initiatives.

Many businesses fail at digital transformation because of a gap in understanding how the new workflows actually affect employees, believes Espoo-based Workfellow. Image: Energepic / Pexels

Leading the charge

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital transformation efforts around the globe, jolting businesses, education institutions and public sector organisations to adopt whatever tools enable them to shift to operating remotely.

Companies in Finland have been well positioned to support the shift, given the country’s second-place ranking behind Denmark in the European Commission’s 2021 Digital Economy and Society Index. Despite slipping from first to second, the country improved its score in several dimensions of the index and held fast to its lead in human capital, integration of digital technologies and digital public services, earning an overall score of 67.1.

The EU average, by comparison, was 50.7.

Finland has earned an overall score of 67.1 in the European Commission’s 2021 Digital Economy and Society Index. Image: DESI2021

The European Commission lauded Finland for its work to support the development of digital skills, calling attention to the high proportion of information and communication technology graduates (7.4%) and the high proportion of enterprises providing information and communication technology training (38%). Even more is needed, though, as 59 per cent of companies on the lookout for specialists are finding their openings hard to fill.

Finnish small and medium enterprises also perform well in digital intensity and uptake of digital technologies, with 88 per cent having at least basic level of intensity and 62 per cent using cloud solutions.

The consistent performances cement the country’s status as a digitalisation leader in Europe, estimated Minister of Local Government Sirpa Paatero.

“We still need determined efforts to retain our leading position, and it is particularly important to make sure digital development will benefit a wide range of people and that no-one is excluded,” she underlined. “To this end, we have taken steps to make the government sector better equipped to support and drive digitalisation in various sectors of society.”

Supporting patient safety, learning on the move

Medanets’ nursing app has been shown to, for example, reduce documentation errors and increase the amount of time professionals can dedicate to actual care. Image: Medanets

Medanets, an app developer hailing from Oulu, North Ostrobothnia, in December announced a partnership that will deliver its suite of mobile nursing tools, including a mobile patient card, bedside observation and risk assessment tools, to County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, one of the largest integrated care providers in the UK.

The tools are part of a package delivered under a 10-year deal by Cerner Millennium.

The package will enable the care provider to build on its existing digital capabilities to promote safe and effective care and improve the experience for both patients and staff, said Lisa Ward, associate director of nursing at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust.

“Mobility has been transformational for how our staff deliver care at our organisations,” she told.

New Nordic Schools revealed it has agreed to deliver its educational and pedagogical knowhow to nomadic families through a partnership with Boundless Life, a company that has designed a community-based turnkey solution to enable families to live, work and learn while travelling and experiencing the world.

Suzanne Perkowsky, head of education at the educational startup based in Espoo, Finland, said it has been a pleasure to work on a concept that is so well aligned with the startup’s vision and educational philosophy.

“Boundless Education’s philosophy of children leading their own learning and incorporating nature, local culture and students’ own interests will make it a model experience,” she envisioned.

Her excitement was shared by Rekha Magon, chief learning officer at Boundless Life.

“We are thrilled to incorporate the world-renowned Finnish curriculum as part of our offerings in Boundless Life,” she rejoiced. “We are excited to provide a transformational learning system that follows a child anywhere and allows families to seamlessly move between our destinations.”

By: Aleksi Teivainen