To celebrate the 20th anniversary of ISLET, we highlight some of the most prominent topics from our history and how our newest generation of management has adopted them. In this blog entry, more specifically, we will relive the fast paced and multifaceted moments of our industry until the present day of artificial intelligence. Do you still recall the term that preceded digitalization, technology and IT?


ADP. Automated Data Processing

A term, when first heard, sounds a bit old-school and rigid if not completely unsexy.

Nevertheless, the acronym ADP still summarizes the aim of modern-day software development. Still in the age of AI, the term ADP is highly apt. Indeed, it still encompasses the core message of what we do and what we strive to achieve.

From a toddler to euphoric adolescence

Halfway through the 1980s, the enterprise resource planning (ERP) was a shadow of itself compared to what it is today. In the next decade, however, we witnessed a major international ERP breakthrough. This breakthrough made its way to Finland only at the end of the 90s when a wave of new implementations rolled over the country.

At the end of the last millennium, the markets only had a few ERP providers with the biggest being SAP ja Oracle. Next to the two big fishes, there were several smaller players which were operating in specific nich areas or usually focused on specific industries. The end of the 90s proved out to be a real gold mining time for ERP providers and experts. The markets had an excess in ERP demand with only a limited number of experts with the necessary know-how and experience to swiftly develop systems.

The time was characterized by wild and fast moves. The big international players brought in their experts from abroad while Finns were sent abroad to be trained. The challenge was the paradox between understanding business and systems. There were only a handful of experts who mastered both.

Especially ERP implementations require equal amount of business and systems understanding. In the beginning, however, most of the ERP experts were programmers leading to a communication gap between the service providers and clients.

Typically, experts need years of experience and involvement in several projects in various companies from different industries to master ERP consulting. The strongest consultants, therefore, were the ones with a strong business background as they knew the processes.

Operations optimization or new business models?

Previously, softwares were perceived as the necessary evil and they were only used to optimize pre-existing processes. Nowadays, conversely, systems and software are the beating heart of businesses.

As a result, many companies are transitioning or have already transitioned from traditional product planning and manufacturing processes to create software-based business models. Examples of such pioneering companies in Finland are

Ponsse and Kemppi. I dare to claim that in both companies, software-based product development receives bigger relative investments than traditional product R&D.

Due to fast technological advancements, the role of software in, for example, forestry machines is growing rapidly. Therefore, you can find a great amount of software-based intelligence in Ponsse’s forestry machines. By investing in software development, Ponsse wants to ensure that they continue being on top of the game in the future as well. Just like Ponsse, Kemppi’s history has begun with equipment manufacturing that has overtime expanded to welding management software, applications and welding software. In their own words, the family enterprise claim that they develop intelligent equipment, welding production management software and supporting expert services.

Reinvent yourself or perish

The technology industry is relatively young compared to many other industries. In other industries, the big players can be over a hundred years old. As the IT industry’s timeline can only be measured in a scale of a few decades, the same history simply does not exist.

In our field, timing means everything. We must develop ourselves continuously and understand which customer challenges are prominent in a taken period.

A misconception is that reinventing yourself means that you do things first and early enough. Some technology companies, however, are ahead of their time and the market is not ready for what they have to offer. There simply has not been enough purchasing power and these companies have perished. Even though we cannot predict the future from a crystal ball, technology companies must strive to understand the meaning of right timing in their business.

Information based leadership

In this decade, the importance of technology has grown exponentially in corporate leadership. This paradigm shift can be seen in the roles of modern IT directors. Previously, CIOs were seen only as technical directors that had no business in board rooms.

The tables have turned, however, and capable CIOs are crucial for organizations as they are in the epicenter of business with frequently a visible role. Oftentimes, CIOs are a part of the executive board. Moreover, next to CIOs, another C-suite level position has emerged, the CDO – Chief Digital Officer.

As the CEO of a long-time family business, I see that working in the technology sector offers an amazing chance to glance into the future. It does not only offer us the daily opportunity to develop ourselves, it requires us to do so.

Janina Luoto
CEO, Isletter
Islet Group Oy

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