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“When it comes to AI, there’s no point waiting for the big bang” – Juhana Juppo to accelerate AI development at Digia

It is essential for organisations to be able to identify where AI is most beneficial and when it is the best tool for the job at hand. At Digia, the utilisation of AI for customer solutions and for the company’s own operations is being accelerated by centralising responsibility for AI development under CTO Juhana Juppo.

“Digia’s growth in recent years has been based on its ability to separate reality from hype – determining what solutions actually have day-to-day utility and provide real business benefits. This is also our approach when it comes to AI”, says Digia’s President and CEO Timo Levoranta.

“There’s a lot of buzz around AI, and many think there’s some sort of big bang just across the horizon. However, there’s no point waiting for something like that, because the primary benefits of AI for most companies come in the form of small, everyday steps that can already be taken today. At least in the short term, the biggest leaps forward can be achieved by integrating AI into existing services and making them run smoother”, explains Digia’s CTO Juhana Juppo.

For example, operating a search engine with voice commands can seem like a far cry from the techno utopias people think of when you mention AI. However, improving everyday processes like these is actually AI’s greatest benefit. Improvements like these can boost efficiency by double-digit percentages.

According to Juppo, in industrial software development such as Digia’s, AI can currently boost efficiency by twenty to thirty per cent. In some cases the increase in efficiency can be even more.

“AI isn’t something new; Digia has been using technologies like machine learning for customer solutions and its own day-to-day applications for years. The big change that has come around recently is in how we interact with these systems. In the background, we’re working with the same kinds of learning models and analytics as before, but the human-machine interface has been revolutionised. Now, we can have conversations with our machines and tell them what we want them to do”, Juppo says.

Juppo is commenting on the subject from the perspective of his new duties: Going forward, all development of AI use cases at Digia will be centralised under his management. The new responsibilities are being integrated into the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) role. The role includes responsibility for Digia’s AI strategy, supporting growth by creating new commercial AI opportunities for Digia and supporting the efficiency of Digia’s own operations by taking advantage of the opportunities provided by AI. The goal during this strategic period is to integrate AI more thoroughly into everything Digia does.

The “Uber moment” is coming – This is how you prepare for it

Digia’s President and CEO Timo Levoranta estimates that the AI and smart automation revolution has already had a pronounced effect on Finnish companies’ projects. It is particularly visible in tasks that involve producing, analysing or updating text, visuals, sound or program code.

In the longer term, AI will revolutionise entire industries. Levoranta emphasises that companies, especially management and boards of directors, need to start building up their AI expertise and experience now. Many industries are on the precipice of an “Uber moment”.

A decade ago, Uber introduced a new ride-hailing model based on mobile technology, which immediately began to revolutionise the industry, even as many questions concerning employment and taxi legislation were still partially unanswered.

According to Levoranta, AI is bringing on similar challenges. Relevant legislation is still in its infancy, and there are many risks and unanswered questions in terms of data security, privacy and copyright. What if a new player that is prepared to take significant risks and challenge traditional operating models enters the industry? Possibilities like these emphasise how important it is to move quickly and build up understanding and experience of the opportunities and risks involved with utilising AI in your industry. The challenge is knowing what is just hype and what is real – and what AI means for your industry in practical terms.

Smoke and mirrors won’t get you far – You need the right tools and the right information in the right place

Levoranta and Juppo see a clear space for Digia in a market that is abuzz with discussions on AI.

“Digia’s extensive technological expertise gives us an excellent basis to help our customers evaluate the benefits of AI. Digia is extremely well versed in enterprise resource planning systems, integrations and data utilisation solutions, which gives us a window into our customers’ core processes – exactly where AI is most useful”, Juppo says.

Juppo and Levoranta point out that AI runs on data. Companies that want to utilise AI will find their task far easier if data has been collected in a centralised place and the relevant systems have been effectively integrated. The most important aspects of developing AI are often the collection and management of data and the integration of systems.

AI is not always the best solution. Sometimes, other solutions, such as robotic process automation, can provide greater benefits from a business perspective.
“You need to be able to identify the right tools for the right jobs and what you need in order to make use of them. As an amateur magician, I know that smoke and mirrors makes for a great conjuring trick, but when it comes to technological development, you need to be able to see past the hype and determine whether the thing in question is actually useful or not”, Juppo says.

Further information:
Juhana Juppo
Chief Technology Officer, Digia
Tel. +358 40 172 2859

Juhana Juppo – “A nerd for life and proud of it”
•    CTO, Digia Management Team member since 19 September 2016
•    b. 1971
•    Education: MSc. (Computer Science)
•    Previous positions have included Director, Business Development at Finanssi-Kontio (2013–2016), Service Director at CGI Finland (2011–2013), and CTO at Capgemini Finland (2005–2011).
•    Originally from Ostrobothnia, where “as early as the 80’s, we were advised to stop coding when AI takes the work”
•    Hobbies: Works with sports as a background active. According to his own words, “an enthusiastic chef with many fire sources in the yard. A nerd for life and proud of it”

Digia is a software and service company that combines technological possibilities and human capabilities to build intelligent business, society and a sustainable future. Our mission is to ensure that our customers are at the forefront of digital evolution. There are more than 1,500 of us working at Digia and we operate globally with our international customers. Digia’s turnover in 2023 was EUR 192,1 million. The company is listed on Nasdaq Helsinki (DIGIA).