Platform Economy is not only the Game of Big Players

Once again, the room is packed as #digitalist gathered in downtown Helsinki to learn about the revolution of digitalization. For the first time, session´s primary language was English although much of the attention still concentrated to the home grounds of the movement. As Finns are known to be engineer-minded gadget-loving people, it is only natural that the IoT seminar received more attention than earlier sessions this year.


However, perhaps shockingly to some, the message was quite the opposite. Kemira Vice President Charlotte Nyström closed the day concluding it well: It is not about the technology, it is not about the IoT – it is about the culture. Statement, which was strongly backed by the presentation explaining how IoT has enabled Kemira’s shift from chemical provider to plant process operator as a service, outsourcing large part of the customer’s value chain.


“It is not about the technology, it is not about the IoT – it is about the culture”


But let’s go back to the beginning of such stories. Morning opening presentation was given by Telia’s Brendan Ives. His claim was that although much of IoT enabling technologies are done by the global giants, implementations are still local. He made good points on having tech-savvy Nordic countries as sandbox regarding the larger implementations. As markets are getting more mature the solutions need to get smarter. All layers of the stack must have open service interfaces, reminded Matti Seppä from Landis+Gyr. Company that was one of the IoT pioneers providing smart boxes for electricity companies already 20 years ago. The simple fact is that Today no player can fulfill the needs of all individuals. Therefore, even the pioneers must open their platforms for other players in the ecosystem.


One great example of such thinking is the story of Fredman Group – thanks to whom even kitchens have a story to tell. This is made possible with IoT, but getting there is not about technology, it is about new way of thinking and measuring the value.


The simple fact is that Today no player can fulfill the needs of all individuals


Once a company famous for its quality plastic and paper accessories to kitchens, impressed many believers of modern management culture back in 2015. Company CEO Peter Fredman stated at the same #digitalist arena that their organization hierarchy is turned upside down. On the top of the heap sat the customer and CEO acted as a janitor supporting the organization to provide the best possible value for the user. Although they were not quite sure of all the steps, instead of just concentrating into a tiny piece of food creation process, they set the goal to fight for the best flavors.


Many in the audience were confused of such story in a very technology-oriented seminar. However, the point was that company was set to design the value chain of how food was created. Similarly, to customer experience, they wanted to optimize the ingredient experience in order to create a perfect kitchen. Naturally, it is not a task for a local plastic wrapping player in Finland, but certainly doable by combining technology-enabled insights, know-how and professional networks.


After proving their point in bringing more intelligence into kitchen management through IoT, it is only natural to step up the gear. Having a perfect meal on a plate is a much broader problem than just cooking the dish. There is whole ecosystem of equipment providers, logistics managers, storage regulations, quality requirements, etc. involved. For that to function with minimum friction, there is a need for an ecosystem platform. A place where new insights, know-how and professional networks can be brought together in an economically feasible way. A marketplace for critical vendors along the path of ingredient experience. A service for individual people to learn new skills. And a single point of information for monitoring operational excellence.


Such a platform must be created based on globally dominant technologies. However, the innovation, culture shift, and specific value promise are created and sandboxed locally… Until, the platform is given a chance to expand into global markets creating a new layer of value for all the players in a very traditional industry. And perhaps even disturbing the ecosystem for good.