Pekka Sivonen: A golden opportunity


The original plan was to draw up a digitalisation strategy for Tekes, but it became Reboot Finland – a plan to use digitalisation to reinvent Finland. A golden opportunity!

Tekes' programme package already included the 5thGear, Industrial Internet and Witty City programmes. All of these sectors are home to huge expertise in Finland: for example, Finland is a world leader in the IoT. It's all a question of sensor technology and the related software, as well as Finland's situation post-Nokia. The know-how we had in Nokia is now scattered between over 400 IoT companies around the country. In the coming years, the challenge for Tekes is to ensure that such know-how finds its way onto the world markets.

The existing programmes are good. They will be continued and their focus areas will be reviewed, but new programmes will also be added. Major steps forward will be made in areas such as the productisation of IoT. Lead market productisations are in the pipeline: IoT ship, IoT hospital and IoT factory have already been chosen and planning work has begun.

New programme initiatives were started alongside the preparation of a digital strategy during the spring: artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented reality, virtual reality, Cyber Security, safety and security. Cyber Security, for example, is a basic element cutting across – and that must be in order within – a range of sectors. However, there would be no sense in developing an intelligent hospital, intelligent transport systems and other ambitious solutions without military-grade information security.

According to current assessments, by 2025 virtual reality alone will be more valuable in financial terms than television is now. This will completely revolutionise entertainment, education and care services. At the moment, the amount of medical information in the world doubles every 74 days. Since becoming a medical specialist takes around 16 years, a consultant's knowledge is inevitably out of date upon 'graduation'. We need artificial intelligence. Tekes is also investing in augmented and virtual reality. The aim is to create new operational models that make use of digitalisation and break down silos, as well as new ecosystems, digital applications and business models based on digitalisation. For example, artificial intelligence will be very deeply integrated with the forthcoming digital health care package.

The world will be completely different in five years' time, let alone by 2025. The number of Connected Devices, around 10 billion of which can currently be found in the world, will increase fivefold by 2020. The number of sensors will reach over 200 billion in the same time frame. Finland is already a leading country in terms of mobile data. Last year, we used an average of five gigabytes of data per customer subscription per month. This volume will increase five-fold by 2025. We should consider what this means.

One of the game-changing technologies of the future, which also happens to be one of Tekes' focus areas, is block chain technology. This involves a decentralised verification system which can handle payments between two parties without intermediaries, via Bitcoin for example. On a global basis, technology of this kind will replace the idea of a trusted third party on which banks and insurance companies are based. This will probably change the world more than the internet did in its day. OP Group has already woken up to this transition.

Pekka Sivonen
The author is Executive Director of Digitalisation Strategies and Programmes at Tekes
twitter: @pekka_finland

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