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Digital platforms are underutilised in Finland

According to Aalto University researchers, Finnish Mittelstand companies do not utilise digital platforms.

Aalto University researchers BSc (Tech) Klaus Castren, MSc (Tech) Aleksi Kortelainen and Postdoctoral Researcher Timo Seppälä analysed 51 Finnish Mittelstand companies, i.e. Finnish industrial groups that employ 249–500 people globally. According to their findings, none of these companies utilised digital platforms as part of their services, or at least did not make their use public knowledge. The results of the research were published in the Digibarometer 2016 report. 

A digital platform is akin to a virtual marketplace. A typical characteristic of these platforms is that different actors create, provide and maintain complementary products and services on different distribution channels. Many of the world's most prestigious brands have joined these consumer platforms and their use has become ordinary. These platforms include Google Play, Apple's App Store, Uber and Airbnb.

– Companies should understand and internalise digitalisation as quickly as possible. One of the biggest problems is that these companies lack the resources and knowhow for assessing how digitalisation is changing their competitive field overall, says Aalto University and ETLA Postdoctoral Researcher Timo Seppälä.

Many of the companies offer maintenance and other services in connection with their products. Their devices can be monitored and controlled in real-time and their maintenance needs can be anticipated in advance with the help of sensors and other smart components. However, even if these services are offered over an open network, instead of being true digital platforms, they are just individual intranets and extranets that operate within corporate firewalls.

According to the researchers, the problem is that the basic solutions of these digital platforms for the industrial internet will be defined elsewhere, which will eventually force Finnish actors to adopt solutions made by others and utilise platforms that are under foreign control and ownership.

- Alarm bells should be ringing: while these sorts of platforms may not be as significant for b2b commerce as they are for consumers, once a platform becomes widely used, it will be difficult to challenge it, the researchers emphasised.

However, they also believe that Finnish companies possess the readiness for opening their collaborative and technical interface resources for both internal and external use.

The Finnish Digibarometer, which describes and predicts Finland's digital position, was published for the third time. It was produced by Etlatieto Oy. The Digibarometer was commissioned by Kaupan liitto, the Ministry of Transport and Communications, TEKES, the Federation of Finnish Technology Industries, and eCommerce Finland.

The Digibarometer 2016 reportis available online (in Finnish) at digibarometri.fi

 

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