Reijo Kangas: Go digital or wither away

Digitalisation is affecting the agendas of not just one or two Finnish SMEs. Is digitalisation impacting on our business? How can we react to it? Should we react to it? Where is this increasingly digital world going?

Digitalisation is impacting on each and every business in Finland and abroad. It is transforming the entire world. Who would have thought just a few years ago that Finnish taxis would have to compete against the global company Über. Its services are based on a mobile phone application. Few believed this, but it happened nonetheless. Digitalisation makes things possible that we can't even imagine. It is not crazy to assume that Finnish SMEs are equally capable of pulling an über.

Digitalisation is revolutionising the traditional notion of markets. Suddenly, the whole world is becoming a potential market. The flipside is that anyone can enter our domestic markets. Although not all companies are able or willing to expand into the global market, they are still impacted on by digitalisation because, in the present-day world, the domestic market is no longer secure. A competitor from abroad can reach in at any time, offering better services for the customers of SMEs. Whoever offers the best value for customers' money attracts business.

Doubters might imagine that harnessing digitalisation in the scaffolding business would be difficult. Luckily, the scaffolding company KAS-Telineet thinks differently. The company rose straight to the crest of the digitalisation wave, hiring experts to develop a cloud-based service for calculating and designing offers. There are signs of growth in the Finnish and Nordic markets, so why not on a global level as well? The efficient digitalisation of KAS-Telineet's basic business processes has reduced the time spent calculating offers by up to 50%. The company can now process significantly more offers in a shorter time. These are the results of putting digitalisation to good use.

Digitalisation offers tools for improving manufacturing processes. This, in turn, has suddenly made manufacturing in Finland profitable. Greenled, a company offering led products on a turnkey basis, has moved production back to Finland from China. The reason? Business in Finland was simply more profitable. Greenled has used digital solutions to improve production control and product development in particular. At best, digitalisation enhances productivity by huge leaps, resulting in new jobs and business growth.

Finnish SMEs are trying to take their first steps towards digitalisation on their own – in vain because no one is born an expert. This also applies to harnessing digital solutions in various sectors. Now is the right time to acquire digital expertise for your company. Finland is a big name in the gaming sector and mobile network solutions. We have accumulated know-how that could be put to good use in more traditional sectors.

Finnish SMEs should hire digital professionals to brainstorm on the potential business opportunities of digitalisation. Such experts are already here. When different worlds collide, the results can be surprisingly good. Let's harness digitalisation now – tomorrow may be too late.

Further information on the Tekes theme, Economic Growth.

Reijo Kangas is Tekes's Executive Director responsible for funding and services aimed at growth companies.

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