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Seafarer’s Pension Fund navigates towards the future with the help of AI strategy

Seafarer’s Pension Fund wanted to take the first concrete steps in utilising AI in their operations. The AI strategy was built to support their business strategy while taking into account the specificities of the highly regulated occupational pension sector. The AI strategy enables the potential of AI to be harnessed across the organisation and the inclusion of the staff in this journey of change. 

Photo: Seafarer’s Pension Fund

“We saw an opportunity to take better control of the helm” 

Seafarer’s Pension Fund is the only occupational pension fund that takes care of the statutory occupational pension insurance of sailors. It manages approximately 1,4 billion in investment assets, and it has a substantial impact on the everyday life of seafarers and Finnish society.   

Low hierarchy and curious corporate culture have allowed Seafarer’s Pension Fund to grow into a flexible organisation with a quick reaction ability. With AI gaining more importance in 2023, Seafarer’s Pension Fund identified a need to research how AI could support its operations and promote competitiveness. 

“The possibilities to utilise AI reached new levels in 2023, and we saw the chance to take better control of the helm,” says Jari Puhakka, CEO of Seafarer’s Pension Fund. 

First sea miles with AI wind in the sails 

In the spring of 2023, AI became an even hotter topic both in the public sphere and within many organisations.  

”My colleague and I started exploring AI on our own and I also started using it in my free time. Quickly the focus turned to how we at Seafarer’s Pension Fund could utilise AI in developing our projects. We found out that opinions on the impact of AI varied a lot within our organisation, so I noted we could use external help in guiding us to the right AI path. We are a compact organisation with the ability to adapt quickly to changing situations. That is why I believe AI is well suited to support our organisation,” Puhakka says. 

Seafarer’s Pension Fund carried out the AI strategy work in a way that engaged the whole personnel from the beginning. In practice, the project was implemented through an online collaboration platform and live workshops. The tasks were well facilitated and got participants excited about the potential of AI. 

Throughout the process, it was highlighted that the AI strategy is not an IT strategy, but was to be approached through customer and employee experience development. Also, the business strategy of Seafarer’s Pension Fund was strongly centered from the beginning. 

It was important to identify different ways of using AI so that each participant could identify the possibilities of the technology in their own work and role. Only after identifying the use cases did we start to think about how different AI tools and platforms could support the implementation of the AI strategy. 

“At the beginning of the work, I set two clear goals: wide and diverse utilisation of data in communications and customer interface, and on the other hand the improvement of the efficiency of day-to-day work,“ Puhakka says. 

As part of the strategy work, information security and data protection were taken into account, and both the EU Artificial Intelligence Act regulation as well as the risk categories were widely discussed in the workshops. The guiding principle during the whole process was to recognise the risks and possibilities related to AI utilisation – especially when customer data is being processed with AI. 

Common direction to putting AI in use 

The AI strategy has been integrated to support and enable the business strategy of Seafarer’s Pension Fund – considering the special features of the occupational pension sector, strategic drivers and goals, as well as sustainability. In addition to the AI roadmap and vision, the personnel of Seafarer’s Pension Fund identified during the strategy work over 100 possible cases where AI could be utilised. These cases have now been prioritised while taking into account data security, the AI Act and the strategic business goals. The AI strategy functions as a shared nautical chart for the management and board helping them to navigate towards the future. 

“The AI strategy is an important and concrete part of every organisation’s AI journey. It sets a common direction and ensures that the resources are allocated to the measures that produce the most added value,” says Timo Savolainen, Senior AI advisor at Sofigate. 

As part of the strategy work, a need to develop the IT management model of Seafarer’s Pension Fund and reorganise the roles was identified. At the same time, a definition of the overall business-oriented architecture was launched and the organisation’s training needs were identified. Immediate added value was achieved by describing the AI house rules for the whole personnel, principles governing the use of AI, responsibilities and, for example, aspects related to copyright. 

The highly participatory method of the strategy work inspired employees to learn. The project culminated in a planning day for the whole organisation, where the entire personnel committed to the implementation of AI and bravely started their shared AI change journey. 


The change journey has begun 

Artificial intelligence is developing fast and Seafarer’s Pension Fund wants to be at the forefront of its use in the occupational pensions sector. Next, Seafarer’s Pension Fund will start utilising AI in a closed AI environment, where confidential data can be utilised efficiently and securely. The AI strategy offers Seafarer’s Pension Fund a strategic direction, whereby AI can be utilised for example when developing customer and employee experience. 

The implementation of AI is not a single project but a change journey, to which the entire personnel of Seafarer’s Pension Fund has joined enthusiastically. The personnel is kept up to speed, both through training and by providing them with more AI tools to support their work. 

AI and its impact on customer and employee experience will feature heavily in the action plan for 2025. AI wind is now blowing to Seafarer’s Pension Fund’s sails and the change journey has begun. The excitement can be felt throughout the whole organisation.  

“I am extremely happy with the strategy work. We are in a good place to continue our journey forward,” Puhakka states. 

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