We’d like to hear more from you!
Tea Repo, Business Development Director
Phone: +358 40 500 8064
05800 Hyvinkää, Finland
UK, Switzerland, Germany and other International Inquiries
Veijo Hytti, CEO
Telephone: +41 79 663 6633
8008 Zürich Switzerland
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“Life-saving systems!”, I heard a customer praise. A stopping phrase. What does “life” have to do with information systems and portfolio management? Is there...
“Life-saving systems!”, I heard a customer praise. A stopping phrase. What does “life” have to do with information systems and portfolio management? Is there a greater purpose we are solving here? This made me pause for a moment.
I thought the purpose was to maintain the management’s situational awareness and ensure that the management’s strategic direction is communicated in the same way the organization does business. Further, to support operations by ensuring adequate resourcing, managing risk, and resolving conflicts arising from the dependencies of the organisation.
Life-saving? In the lives of employees, this is reflected in a hierarchy, red tape, and increased friction. The intention is noble, though. To condense and refine the knowledge in the organisation to an appropriate level that management can internalise and use. To form that famous big picture analytically and coherently.
The tools to do this are unpleasant chalk: heavy enterprise tools that push users away. Using them requires heavy training or entire teams of professionals to maintain the data structures. If they had been built for ordinary consumers with options, the catastrophe would have happened much sooner. The offered enterprise tools are simply a must. These solutions cannot be criticized because they have been selected by international consulting firms as “Best of the Breed” solutions that have helped Fortune 500 companies amass their impressive fortunes. What could possibly go wrong? Where does the little guy’s life show?
As an alternative to heavy structures, agile working methods have gained popularity.
These have given empowered teams a taste of freedom by pushing decision-making lower down the hierarchy. Increased autonomy has created flexibility and teams’ own objectives. The emphasis has been on value creation and that is what we all want to create, right? We don’t want to spend time on wasteful administrative wrangling and rituals. Perhaps this is how we save lives?
Perhaps the easiest way to make an already hierarchical and heavy organisation agile was to SAFE all existing processes, terminology and titles. Everyone was happy if nothing really needed to be changed. If someone was not happy, the dissenter was sent to a retraining camp. Returning from the camp with a new certificate to adorn their CV, faith in the system had been restored.
Unfortunately, success is not guaranteed just because development teams keep producing more and more functionality that the customer ultimately doesn’t even need. We will remain prisoners of our own outputs if the whole is not managed. Clear objectives and the outputs needed to achieve them are required in order to focus limited resources on doing the right things. Unfortunately, isn’t this the taste of the administrative structures and reporting that we were trying to avoid?
Ultimately, it is about managing information and how people manage it.
Do systems adapt to people or do people adapt to how systems require information to be managed? The latter situation is not life-saving. It’s a hassle to search for information and manually enter the same information over and over again. Endless series of clicks to get simple things done. Compiling Excel sheets and PowerPoint presentations from the grains of information that already exist. Humans are not robots who effortlessly repeat the same sequence of movements for the rest of their lives.
It is about intelligent grains of knowledge. The everyday numbers, dates, and snippets of text eventually make up the information. The grains of knowledge exist but without intelligence, they are elusive and spread out. In different systems, in different formats, serving different needs, maintained by different users.
For users, managing information cannot be a series of scattered slips and forms that have to be found and then filled in. The information management process needs to be digitised into a centralised solution where the user experience is designed to support the user. Terminology should be familiar to the user, with unnecessary choices and functions hidden. Redundant clicks are minimised. Simply, the process and its use should flow without barriers. Know your users’ abilities and needs.
Make use of existing knowledge.
There is nothing more frustrating than manually entering the same information in multiple places. Exporting or importing data through pre-built interfaces automates redundant steps. You need to invest in quality master data management. It easily pays for itself by minimizing redundant inputs and error conditions that cause disruptions in the process flow.
The transparency and availability of quality data is a great asset, but it also needs to be filtered. The right information needs to be targeted to the right people at the right time so that they can interpret it and react to it in the right way. Excessive visible information does not always improve the flow. Unfortunately, even encryption of information is sometimes necessary in order to feed it into the system.
Information is alive and changes in it need to be monitored and mistakes made need to be tracked. Version control has to happen automatically without you even realising it exists. Simply logging raw data is not enough. Trends can be deduced from changes, or like in a time machine, you can go back and examine past situations. This creates opportunities for learning new things and discovering those problems that slow down the flow of the process.
Once the grains of information have effectively flowed through the process, only then can the titbits begin to flow. Once all the information is centrally held, it can be processed into new knowledge in a whole new way. Visual portfolios can be created from the data mass, roadmaps can be built, Kanban work queues can be managed, and prioritisation tools can be used to make choices. Decision-making is made easier when you suddenly have the whole picture under control and situations are more predictable.
Yet, we are not in a situation where information is not needed in different formats. But the time-consuming Excel, Word, or PowerPoint exercises of the past are nowhere to be found anymore. Document construction can be automated with ready-made templates from fresh data. Is copy-paste a thing of the past?
The cherry on top of the cake is the visual dashboard views to measure KPI metrics that are essential for processes. The ability to drill deeper into the entire data structure takes coffee conversations to the next level. Suddenly, data is not just data; it matters. Because now it can lead.
Framing all of this as an automated process saves lives.
Hiding the necessary structures and hierarchies we have to fight with. Creating new opportunities to do things that we, not robots, were created to do. All we need to help us is intelligence in the grains of knowledge we control.
COO, Keto Software Oy
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Creativity: The Fuel of Innovation
During times in which business environments are changing rapidly, innovation is often key to the success of a company. However, innovation doesn’t happen without...
During times in which business environments are changing rapidly, innovation is often key to the success of a company. However, innovation doesn’t happen without creativity, or in other words, without creativity, the innovation process has no “fuel” to start the change process. In fact, creativity exists in every human being and is an essential part of human behavior that separates us from machines and computers.
Debunking creativity myths
When it comes to creativity, there are many false myths around it that make it hard to define what creativity really is. The best way to define creativity might be to look into some of these myths to define what creativity is not.
“The smarter you are, the more creative you are”
Creative process requires a certain level of intelligence but above a basic level, there is little evidence for any significant link between the two (Amabile, 1996).
“Creativity exists outside of time and circumstance”
Creativity is a dynamic flow between a person’s thoughts and the changing social contexts from which they draw and refine their ideas that are essential parts of the creative process.
“Creative people are high rollers”
The willingness to take calculated risks and the ability to think in non-traditional ways does figure in creativity, but you do not have to be a bungee jumper to be creative (Smith and Reinertsen, 2004).
“The creative act is essentially effortless”
Although creativity is a complex process, there is a tendency to emphasize what is termed the illumination stage. This downplays the contextual dynamics of change and fails to recognize how most innovators after many trials, dead ends, and a lot of personal effort (Placone, 1989).
“Creativity derives only from eccentric personalities”
It is much more useful to consider creativity as arising from a particular behavior than resulting from a product or idea. Under this view, creativity is mistakenly linked with personality.
“Creativity exists in the arts”
We often link creativity with literature, music, and various forms of art that are “creative”, but it is much more appropriate to consider creativity as human behavior that emerges in any human activity.
“Coming up with new ideas is the most difficult part of creativity”
The difficult part of creativity is not simply arriving at ideas that are new but identifying those that have value and are reliable (Rogers, 1995).
“Creative output is always good”
Novel ideas can also be applied to evil and destructive ends just as well as they can be applied to good, responsible, and constructive ends (Amabile, 1996).
Despite recognizing the importance of creativity, we often fail to use our natural creativity skills. Especially in the work environment, we tend to work in what the British actor and comedian John Cleese describes as “closed mode”. In the closed mode, people operate in routine activities. The biggest benefit of this mode is efficiency. It creates good results in getting things done in everyday routines. In this mode, people avoid making mistakes by using methods and skills that they have already learned. Operating in “closed mode” is not necessarily a bad thing but the problem hereby is that creativity is suppressed, and no new ideas can be created.
John Cleese further argues that “creativity is not a talent. It is a way of operating.” When a person moves to the “open mode”, the mind can let go of routine activities and is able to play with open possibilities. When the mind is freed of its usual pressures and the fear of making a mistake, a person has the confidence to play freely like a child and thereby opens up new ways of thinking.
Having enough time to play around and not settling on the first and the most obvious solution will lead to a moment of illumination where the new idea is created. This moment of illumination is the moment where the discomfort of struggling with a problem changes into a feeling of joy about the breakthrough idea.
When we tell stories about creativity, we tend to leave out the phase of struggling. We don’t like to mention days when we wanted to quit when we believed that our problem was impossible. Instead, we skip straight to the breakthrough. We tell the happy ending first.
In order to get into the open mode, John Cleese describes five key factors:
- Space (“You can’t become playful, and therefore creative, if you’re under your usual pressures.”)
- Time (“It’s not enough to create space; you have to create your space for a specific period of time.”)
- Time (“Giving your mind as long as possible to come up with something original, and learning to tolerate the discomfort of pondering time and indecision.”)
- Confidence (“Nothing will stop you being creative so effectively as the fear of making a mistake.”)
- Humor (“The main evolutionary significance of humor is that it gets us from the closed mode to the open mode quicker than anything else.”)
Fuelling the growth engine
We can see that creativity is a vital component for business success. Yet it is important to note that creativity does not lead to inventions and business growth; innovation does. So, if we consider innovation as the main engine of growth, then creativity clearly is the fuel of innovation.
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Taking the leap: How innovations shape a more sustainable future
Sustainability affects us all and sustainable development is something no one can ignore – it has become the main driver of innovation nowadays. In...
Sustainability affects us all and sustainable development is something no one can ignore – it has become the main driver of innovation nowadays. In this article, our CEO Veijo Hytti shares his view on sustainable transformation and explains the term “bioloikka” – “bio jump”.
Transition at different levels
Digital transformation is on everyone’s lips these days, “digitisation” a huge buzzword. Especially the Covid 19 pandemic has forced most companies to do things digitally. In Finland, we talk about “digiloikka” – digital jump.
But not only have digitalisation initiatives been greatly accelerated recently, but also sustainability has become a central theme in most companies’ transformation strategy. Some companies even focus their innovation efforts exclusively on sustainability; for example, the Finnish fibre innovation company Spinnova. The company produces fabric from wood fibres, thereby not only challenging the status quo but taking a leap in sustainability – a “bio jump”.
A relief for the environment
Cotton is the most popular fibre in the world today, but its production comes at a serious cost for our environment. Cotton is a very vulnerable plant, which is why a lot of pesticides are used in its cultivation, and on top of that, cotton plantations swallow up huge amounts of water. For example, the cultivation of cotton in Uzbekistan has led to the complete drying up of the Aral Lake. To better protect the environment and conserve our limited resources, we need to think innovatively and develop sustainable alternatives.
Inspired by how spiders spin their webs from cellulose, Spinnova has developed a technique to produce textiles from pulp. The whole process works without the use of chemicals and with minimal water consumption and CO2 emissions. Plus, the materials needed are produced by the ton in Finland: Traditionally, forestry has always played a major role in Finland and the country is one of the largest producers of pulp these days. More than half of the country is covered by forests, and, unlike cotton, the cultivation of new wood offers significant ecological advantages. The production of pulp is very sustainable and also cost-effective. On top of that, pulp is a circular material; since it contains neither plastic nor other chemical components, it can be recycled and reused effortlessly.
The backbone of innovations
Recently, Spinnova announced that they will build their first textile production factory in Jyväskylä. The main supplier of machinery for the new factory will be our customer Valmet. Valmet is a developer and supplier of technologies and services designed to maximise resource and energy efficiency for the pulp, paper and energy industries. And there are even more examples of the “bio jump” in our customer portfolio.
As a forerunner in the forest industry, sustainability is an integral part of everything UPM is doing. All innovations are aimed at sustainability and a future beyond fossil fuels. Walki and Wipak are on a mission to establish zero waste and zero carbon footprint in the packaging industry, Fortum Recycling & Waste is leading the shift to circular economy and conservation of natural resources in the energy sector. So it can be seen, that no matter what industry our customers are in, sustainability is a goal of the highest importance for all of them.
With our no-code platform, we provide a tool that serves as a backbone to manage all these ideas and innovations, make strategic decisions, and ultimately bring the best innovations to market as quickly as possible – thus causing a positive impact on our future.
Dare to take the jump
In summing-up, there is as much change happening in sustainability as there is in digitalisation. Everyone in the world is affected and innovating sustainable solutions is the hottest topic right now. Especially in Europe, we have a high level of investment in digitalisation as well as sustainability innovations. All large, as well as many smaller companies, have sustainability tightly integrated into their corporate strategy or mission and this is a trend that will not stop but accelerate even more.
As a company, we at Keto Software are proud to support influential companies in making innovation possible to pave the way to a more sustainable future. Despite all the euphoria, however, one thing must not be forgotten: Ideas alone are only a fraction of innovation. It is crucial to put the ideas into practice, or in other words: to dare the “bio jump”!
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