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“Company Boards should be strongly committed to the opportunities created by the industrial internet. Operative management needs solid support during the change,” Heikki Ailisto says.​

The story of Finland

Riitta Ekholm | 13.1.2016

​The industrial internet will shake up our industry, economy and everyday lives, creating new businesses and seeing out some of the old. Research Professor Heikki Ailisto from VTT is the author of many reports and reviews on the topic.

In his blog Research Professor Heikki Ailisto writes that the “industrial internet has proved a hot topic in the discussion on the economy, industry and technology.” A report commissioned by the Prime Minister’s Office has a gripping name: Finland – the Silicon Valley of the industrial Internet”.

According to the group of experts from VTT, the Research Institute of the Finnish Economy ETLA and the Aalto University, should Finland fail to be in the front line of the industrial internet, productivity, investments and the number of jobs will continue to decline.

Ailisto says that we can ill afford this, although the industrial Internet alone is not enough to drive growth. The report describes three scenarios. In the worst-case scenario, Finland’s current situation continues and 80 jobs will be lost every week. In the best-case scenario, the industrial internet can attract €12 billion in investments and create 48,000 new jobs by 2023.

Ailisto sees indications that both companies and political actors mean business this time.­­­­­­­ The industrial internet has emerged as a Government spearhead programme of sorts, although it does not have an allocated budget.

Finland has everything it takes to emerge a winner after the momentous changes about to take place, but not with half-hearted commitment.

Ailisto mentions the Finnish Industrial Internet Forum (FIIF) as an example of the necessary cooperative spirit. Initiated by the Federation of Finnish Technology Industries and brought to life by VTT, it has already almost 200 company members after less than a year in operation. The members meet every couple of months.

“Companies give five-minute talks of their business pain points. After that, representatives from other companies explain how they have tackled similar problems. Companies are not pitching ideas but bottlenecks,” Ailisto explains.


 

The road to IoT

Research Professor Ailisto has a box seat when it comes to the revolution caused by the industrial internet: he is involved in many IoT projects and their preparatory stages in Finland. For example, he is directing the VTT spearhead programme called Pro IoT that spans four years.

Ailisto describes the digital disruption as a significant shift which is starting to resemble hype. Businesses, universities and research institutions are all active in the area. There are many projects and programmes, and some of them overlap.

Finland aims to identify company groups in areas such as forestry, health technologies, shipbuilding industry and gaming to create ecosystems and share digital service platforms.

As an interesting example, Ailisto mentions extensive research by the Aalto University and the Strategic Research Council (SRC) of the Academy of Finland on the effects of the Digital Disruption of Industry (DDI). Other participants in the six-year research programme include VTT, University of Turku, Lappeenranta University of Technology and the Research Institute of the Finnish Economy ETLA. It sheds light to the future by studying the change of the mobile and media markets between the 1980s and the 2000s.

“We will create a simulated game to support public decision-making. With the model, authorities can, for example, assess the effects of tax hikes in the future,” Ailisto says. ​

 

 

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