Trailmaker Oy and Lexia Attorneys arranged a VIP-event for investors and partners. Heikki Manninen, Chairman of Trailmaker, opened the event pointing out that the state of competition and markets are currently challenging to both big and small operators. The keynote presentation was held by Mr Rodrigo Kuri, CEO of Grupo Santander’s Innovation Division, ”Bank of The Future”. Other presentations were held by Ms Eva Wathén, board member of Koskisen Oy and a family entrepreneur, and Mr Samuli Kortelainen, Managing Director of SimAnalytics Oy.
About 50 professional investors from different countries participated the event. ”The market continuously creates new needs, to which companies must be able to respond”, stated Manninen. In order to succeed, there is a continuous need to develop new services, find new business areas and develop new business models. ”The world is changing and the race is faster than ever. Banking sector and FinTech are perfect examples of this. Massive changes are to be expected both globally as well as in Finland”, Manninen points out.
New technologies emerge continuously, and they create both positive and negative pressure to companies and personnel – the change must be utilized. With new and different business models, services, products and clients it is possible to create a new kind of competitive edge. On the other hand speed and continuity of change creates negative pressure. Companies must be able to adapt quickly to the change, and in some changes even manage it. ”Change also means creating new strategies. In many cases this requires readiness to partner up and first and foremost quick execution of strategic changes. The presentations of the day all give a clear message on this”, states Manninen. ”These companies have experience in utilizing the change, as well as successful exploitation of technologies”.
Trailmaker is launching an operation with Barrabes S.a. in order to search and identify Finnish technology companies and hence build a customer-oriented competitive edge for Grupo Santander in global markets. ”With open co-operation with all parties, we can answer the challenges brought by change, and find solutions providing competitive edge. Switch your sensors on”, sums up Manninen.
BUILDING THE BANK OF THE FUTURE
The head of Grupo Santander’s Bank of the Future –unit, Mr Rodrigo Kuri, addressed the theme of how one of the largest banking groups in Europe is approaching co-operation and answering future challenges. ”We can bring new products and solutions in markets in six months because we co-operate closely with very different companies throughout the world”, Kuri pointed out. Bank of the Future, the program of Santander’s Innovation Division seeks out opportunities to comprehensively change the ways we work and operate. ”Are we developing applications that work on European markets? Are they working in other markets as well? This model of thinking has enabled us to develop and create innovations where ever and whenever”, states Kuri.
It is important to understand the drivers of the change. The most important is the consumer and the change in his behaviour. Recently big operators have affected to customer behaviour more strongly than before. Social media, Google, fast mobile connections and the fact that in several markets people spend at least six hours per day with their mobile devices. ”Data is the new oil. Previously it was just information related to business, maybe utilized with variable success. Now it is the core of all basic banking operations. It is very likely that this will also lead towards to deconstruction of bank concentrations”, predicts Kuri. Finance technology has also awoken the interest of investors. Last year only in USA investments in finance technology were about 24 Mrd dollars.
Consumer is the king
The consumer sits at the driver’s seat. He stays if the quality of services is excellent, but takes off incredibly fast if the quality of service or application does not meet the expectations. Santander has pursued to summarise the DNA of a practical working solution. First there are 3 A’s: Anytime, Anywhere and Anyhow. Furthermore it has to be personalized, data-based and social. Contact interface must be seamless and it has to be integrated to daily life. Also the processes on the background must be frictionless to ensure user experience meeting the expectations. ”The sooner we understand the needs of customers, the better products and services we are able to build for them – and we have a role in their lives also in the future”, Kuri points out.
The young move and live in digital world. Hence the banking services are also facing big changes. ”We focus on customer experience, backed with supportive network and services, and fronted by fast and streamlined user interface with different solutions”, says Kuri.
Nursery of innovations
How Santander approaches new innovations they are soon starting to search also from Finland? ”Innovations are in the core of Santander. They are not reporting to any division, business area or unit. They are an individual cross-sectional level throughout the banking operations. We have created innovative work methods in order to quickly develop and test in authentic test environment: in normal bank operations”, Kuri clarifies.
Innovation is the plant nursery of Santander, where new products, services and technology are refined. The people in charge of innovations operate in the core of organizations, but in a sense outside them as well. This has lead to all business operations being innovation and all verticals of the group being in contact with the Bank of The Future regardless the line of business.
Putting flesh on the bones
In UK Santander has an investment fund of 100 M€. Its mission is to survey and search new targets for financing technology in Europe. ”We have moved to global markets and several of our investment companies are North American. Our investment program is fairly new, founded in February 2015. We plan to co-operate with agile, risk-taking and disruptive fintech-companies (FT 2.0). With co-operation we can offer capital and client relationships with our banks, comprehensive product portfolio, firm structure and warranties to deposits”, says Kuri
SUCCESSION IS A TURNING POINT
Koskisen corporation is over a hundred years old family company dedicated to wood. The target is to grow profitably as a family company by providing quality products and services. The company knows the challenges in end use, and promotes the business of its clients with innovative product and service solutions. The company employs directly over 1000 employees and last year the turnover was about 248 M€. Board member and one of the owners is Eva Wathén, who a few years ago faced a situation familiar to so many family businesses: succession.
After Kalevi Koskinen, the second generation owner died, the representatives of third generation faced a new situation. ”When the father still lived, there was only one man and one vote. He was a strong and charismatic person and leader with strong principles and clear orders. He always had the last word in investments and development”, says Wathén.
Owner’s voice or owners´voice?
An owner in charge of operations typically has a clear idea of how the decisions should be made. When there are more than one owner and some of them are involved with operations, unclear situations are to be expected. The opinions of owners, board members and operative managers can differ, especially if responsibilities overlap.
The third generation wanted to think owner management differently. An owners council fas formed to take care of issues related to ownership. In addition, operative management put in charge of tasks related to good management practise. The aim was to keep board and operative management separated, and also separate ownership from these.
Owners´view as part of the strategy
”Owners have a vision and a strategy, and the company has a vision and a strategy”, describes Wathén. The first documented third generation owners´ vision was composed on 1st January 2009 when the company was 100 years. ”How could we make decisions without the vision, strategy and voice of the owners? Into this question culminates also starting point of Trailmaker. When I was drafting my presentation, I became aware of the significance of common view in the company operations”, states Wathén.
It was also important to clarify the roles of different oprerations. The role of the owners became more visible, providing a competitive edge to business operations. ”To support the business operation development, we wanted to add outside visions”, states Wathén. At the same time it was important to ensure transparency and owners’ roles in decision making. ”Naturally the decision process seems to take much more time than before, because there’s now three instead of one”, Wathen says smiling.
With feelings and facts
Can owners´ will be a compromise? ”I don’t like compromises and making decisions based on smallest common nominator. It is important to see that owners’ view is clear”, points out Wathén.
New challenge is to develop owners will in relation to strategy and business operations in changing environment, which is becoming more and more difficult to predict due to new type of customer behaviour. ”The future appears to bring close study of this behaviour by utilizing partnership model”, Wathén thinks.
Communication, sustainable development and locality are opening new possibilities in the future. ”Wood is a positive trend in the future, and it seems to be growing. However, values of a family company and strong local commitment will allways be in the core”, concludes Wathén.
SCI-FI IS COMMONPLACE TO OUR CLIENTS
SimAnalytics is a young startup with big goals. A bit over one year ago the founders of the company started a strategy process with Trialmaker and now, a year later both find that the goals have been reached. However, they have not been those exact goals discussed a year ago.
Currently SimAnalytics is an employer working with big corporations and developing their own products changing the world with computers and analytics alongside. The goal is to truly predict with analytics what happens in the future, and if possible to influence with IT, build solutions. ”We do not simply report to the client what is going to happen to them in the future, but also offer solutions which can be used to make the difference the future”, says Samuli Kortelainen, the managing director of SimAnalytics.
Companies invest in software and hardware used for collecting data. Then the data is added in a spreadsheet, various graphs and diagrams are produced and based on these the company speculates what decisions should be made. ”The data must absolutely be accurate, both qualitatively and quantitatively. We state that when the data is good, the company should only be offered a play-button to press when a decision is needed. This sounds like fiction, but it is factuality. The majority of stock market is already now being made with algorithms and the best mathematicians from MIT are recruited to Wall Street. We want to do the same and create models to management and board to both operative and strategic decision making”, clarifies Kortelainen.
The customers of SimAnalytics are thousands of times bigger than them. Common comments are ”What SimAnalytics?? If you can do something this fantastic, why haven’t we heard of this from IBM? That’s not possible, it’s sci-fi!” The customers may be sceptial and critical when discussing about their business with a small start-up. ”Can you scale up? Are you still alive after a few years?” These questions do not affect SimAnalytics specialists. ”IBM can’t do this but we can. This may sound arrogant but it’s true.
For example predictive analytics already give predictions, but the decisions are still made by a man. Our goal is to build automated analytics used in making predictions, of course, but most importantly to be used in decision making as well. We already have constructed a solution, which makes ourselves unnecessary. Our best professional coded himself and his brains into an algorithm. In a way, he lives replicated into an algorithm. Sounds like sci-fi, but it’s not”, ensures Kortelainen.
Big companies expect flexibility from start-ups. ”If we are required to provide a solution tomorrow, we will do our utmost to deliver it tomorrow. Smallness or haste are still no excuses to deliver poor quality product or service. Our vital condition is sell gold and deliver diamonds”, Kortelainen states.
Smart Logistics to Kuusakoski Oy
Kuusakoski Oy assigned SimAnalytics to develop solutions to material logistics. The result was a clear and precise solution for the future. Kuusakoski detected that with small decisions it was able to gain significant cost savings and reduce CO2 emissions of the transportations.
”When data is crushed into small enough particles, it begins to talk – a solution is found. Opinions loose their value when they are challenged with facts in a form of a report. In this kind of situation, decision making is easy”, says Kortelainen.
Trailmaker and SimAnalytics
”In our standpoint the input of Trailmaker in preparing our company to meet the challenges has been significant. They took up into our business and went through our plans and ideas – also challenged them very critically”, outlines Kortelainen.
Instead of trying to offer everything to customers, SimAnalytics must focus on developing the core competence and networking in order to deliver what is promised. ”What we are now, is a totally different question than what we are supposed to become. The plan also is a totally different thing than the excecution of a plan”, Kortelainen thinks.
Naturally SimAnalytics and Trailmaker made a plan for the future and now, 1,5 years later they can be relieved that the excecution of the plan has succeeded. The product developed is not exactly similar they imagined it would be, but it’s a small detail. ”In most cases it is difficult for others to understand what we are doing, but after seeing the results they understand it easily”, concludes Kortelainen.
It takes some time for the larger circles to understand the systems capable of continuous learning and optimizing the operations in changing environments. SimAnalytics has a considerable task.
Markus Myhrberg, a Partner at Lexia Attorneys thanked the presentators for their great work, and the audience for their intrest. There seemed to be surprisingly a lot in common between a company of hundreds of thousands employees and a turnover of tens of billions, a company of a few employees and a hundred years old family enterprise. All have to face rapidly changing markets and conditions and create and innovate new services and solutions by utilizing both creativity and new technologies.
It is exciting to see how similar the challenges are despite the size difference. Also the innovation processes resemble one another. In a highly regulated branch a bank is searching new ways to serve the customers, just like a company aiming to refine all that can be harvested from the woods. All, Santander, SimAnalytics and Koskisen strive to build new services through innovation, and approach the markets not yet known”, concludes Myhrberg.