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Wanted: The three heroes of the productivity leap

Business technology would enable a leap in work productivity – but its success depends on three new-age experts, Sofigate’s Juha Huovinen and Sami Karkkila write.

If you launched a technology project last year, you can already say it’s outdated – unless your project relied on constantly upgrading business technology platforms (like SaaS software pioneers Salesforce or ServiceNow). They’ve helped you become a power user of AI, even if you didn’t know it at the start of your project. But this is not the case with software development projects that do ‘something unique’ – often with taxpayers’ money – and don’t seem to cross the finish line no matter how hard you try.

Business technology platforms enable the automation of workflows and processes just by talking to an AI assistant. Parameterisation and programming are left to the AI. If you can describe your needs, your project will almost certainly succeed. The productivity of your work is many times higher than with traditional methods. So, everything’s good, then?

Unfortunately, the leap in productivity is not happening because we can’t describe business needs in a creative, clear, and understandable way. We hire dozens of the best experts in the field every year and, sadly, the vast majority of them can’t do it either. So where is the problem?

Do you know any business leaders who have defined their own processes, not just accepted the plans of consultants? We do know a few, but they have used lightweight design methods developed through our own experiences. The new methods, combined with the artificial intelligence we all have at our fingertips, give us each superpowers to define processes, workflows and other business needs with unprecedented speed and accuracy.

New roles, new skills

The business leader must therefore be in the driver’s seat of the next generation of business technology development. They need three new-age professional disciplines as their map-readers, with an emphasis on the ability to coach business leaders and entire design teams to use technology and data to improve business performance.

  1. The Business Analyst interprets the capabilities required by the business into the functionalities required of the digital service.
  2. The Solutions Architect helps business leaders understand what technology solutions are possible and how they can optimise business processes to meet the organisation’s objectives.
  3. The Data Lead coaches business leaders in the use of data, designs the data architecture and ensures that the available data serves the business objectives.

All jobs require a deep understanding of both business and technology, and the ability to use artificial intelligence, for example, can no longer be considered a specific skill but a basic requirement. However, the biggest change brought about by new development processes is that these heroes of the performance leap will also be required to have a user-centric attitude and top-level communication, collaboration, and facilitation skills. They are no longer mere experts, but rather coaches for the management.

Unfortunately, Finnish education does not currently provide anyone with the skills required for the job. In our work on business technology, we have also discovered, to our regret, that a large proportion of the people currently working on the subject do not meet the requirements of the future. Even if they have the technological skills, most of them lack business, collaboration, and facilitation skills.

A model country for the use of technology

Finnish labour productivity has seen virtually no growth since the financial crisis, i.e. for fifteen years. In the most recent statistical year, 2022, our productivity even fell by 0.5 percent. At the same time, we have fallen woefully behind Sweden, for example, where productivity has grown by around 20% since the crisis years. 

In the information society, the main source of productivity is technology. It is no coincidence that Sweden’s share of GDP invested in IT has long been about twice that of Finland.

It also makes a difference how the money invested in technology is spent. Do we code bit by bit a large, expensive system for every company and organisation that does not serve the end-user or the organisation’s objectives well – or do we use existing business technology, with billions invested in its development, and build our own solutions on top of it?

The question for Finnish companies is therefore whether we will take the productivity leap by combining business and technology more seamlessly, and whether we will dare to be a model country for the use of technology. We need new types of development processes as tools for the productivity leap and new types of professionals with a coach’s attitude to use them. 

Whether we can reform our thinking and attitudes, and whether our education and training system can produce the new skills that businesses need, remains to be seen. One thing is certain: there will be plenty of well-paid jobs for the heroes who make the productivity leap possible.

Read more: 

Why should the employee experience be measured alongside the customer experience? This is how to ensure a long-term partnership

AI does not replace the worker – it makes them irreplaceable


Juha Huovinen is a co-founder and board member of Sofigate, a growth company specialising in business technology transformation. He is passionate about developing an open business technology model for everyone.

Sami Karkkila is the CEO of Sofigate. Sofigate has over 700 employees in the Nordic countries. In the Karkkila blog series, the CEO discusses sustainable growth management in the new, ever-changing reality.