We solve: Are you a future leader?

26.2.2024Hanna KivirantaWe solve

I had the opportunity to participate and network with the industry's leading players in London at the Big Data & AI Expo at the end of 2023. In addition to networking and emerging technology trends, my goal was to find new insights not only for research and development projects, but also for data and artificial intelligence-related teaching and competence requirements.

Hanna works at Satakunta University of Applied Sciences as a lecturer in data, AI and technology leadership in the Master’s degree. She also leads the Digiacademy 2.0 project (link) funded by the Ministry of Finance at BIC.
AI created a picture of a future looking leader.

And there were plenty of them, at least rapidly developing technologies! To my delight, I noticed that many global technology companies are willing to offer their own data and AI solutions for the use of higher education institutions, and the data side, AI features and integration capabilities of these applications have also developed further.

While working as a management consultant in the IT field and in leader positions of various IT business leadership teams, I noticed the challenge of how in Finland, as a strong nation of engineers, we often only follow the AI ​​technology hype through various new functionalities. We are like kids in a candy store, we collect all possible new and old goodies in the test basket of artificial technologies. Technology in enthusiasm hype, we tend to forget the most important thing, what added value does this technology actually bring us? How does it improve employee experience, customer experience or productivity? What effects will this new technology have on our operations, strategy, mission and vision in the short and long term?

Humanity first

Higher education institutions should pay special attention to the competence requirements of the future, not only with the help of technology application targets, but also with the help of technology change management and design. No technology can solve the challenges of humanity, cooperation, empathy, thinking, problem solving and creativity. They will also be solved in the future by people, in cooperation.

In coaching and management, it is worthwhile to make people aware not only through the value creation of artificial intelligence and data driven business but also through understanding ethics and wider societal effects. The data economy can be approached multi-perspective and multi-disciplinary, using ecosystem thinking in the contexts of developing jurisprudence and ethics. It would be important to consider snot only the short-term development of technology, but also longer-term life cycle thinking, e.g. in terms of maintenance and development, in an vendor lock independent manner, in a sustainable way, saving costs and increasing competitive advantage.

What will leadership look like in 2024?

I compiled from my thoughts and observations, partly with the help of artificial intelligence ChatGPT summarizing, five key points, on which the 2024 IT business leadership education curricula and the leadership of organizations can be built together. I hope these tips will be a pleasure for you if you work as a future builder at any university, as a leader or as a human-tech skill developer in any organization.

1. Customer-oriented value creation

In the technology industry, people should generally learn to better understand the business needs and environment of their customers. It is important to analyze the technological maturity of different operating environments, the strategy and the value brought by new technology. Prioritization and evaluation must be done continuously in everyday life from a customer perspective, not only in connection with annual strategic investments. Agile development requires constant foresight, and it would be good to peek into the future of customers' end customers as well. In particular, the importance of continuous customer experience measurement is emphasized at the interfaces between artificial intelligence and data driven decision making in customer operations, where the most value-creating results are often achieved.

In addition to customer understanding and empathy maps, curricula should focus on how artificial intelligence and data can be utilized as drivers of customer experience and business management as well as development and innovation. How to create new value, such as in personalized user experience, 360 customer leadership or service extensions with the power of NLP and LLM artificial intelligence assistants?

2.Ultimate importance of employee experience

People must understand and learn how artificial intelligence and easily accessible information can improve the employee's experience, well-being at work, job satisfaction and even the image of recruitment. In supporting the technology support of the internal processes of the customer's organization from end to end, up to the subcontracting chains, develop the external interface management of the various silos by improving and supporting e.g. joint information sharing and communication. Future technology leadership training should help with the possibilities of artificial intelligence and data in various business processes, and in addition to learning automation, data quality and management, it should be people-oriented, i.e. appeal to needs and not only IT appeals.

Technological and functional needs mapping should be done with the participation of different people and roles. Regarding the domain name ownership data, it would be good to have the owners of the operating processes, and the investment decision should not be evaluated from the point of view of minimal cost effects.

3. Enabling and fostering innovative solutions

People should be encouraged to think about innovative solutions and very different use cases in the field of artificial intelligence and data driven business. Ownership of data should be distributed to different groups in a user-oriented manner, and the central goal of information and technology leadership should be continuous agile learning at every level of the organization. Experience culture and business design skills should be part of every future technology and people manager's backpack.

The "global innovation hubs" or networks that have become known around the world and promote technology management mentoring and ecosystem competence could also serve as a source of inspiration not only for managers but also for personnel, customers and stakeholders more broadly. It is worth using PPP (public-private-partnership) networks just for the sake of resourcefulness. To give a practical hint: We also have several different projects related to modern technology leadership and knowledge-based data driven business at the BIC competence center. I challenge you to get in touch with us and bring your ideas or thoughts of collaboration to us, we can help precisely from the point of view of financing, concepting, matchmaking and know-how!

4. Emphasizing the ethical perspective

People should be taught the ethical aspects of artificial intelligence and the impact possibilities of foresight also on the development side of regulation and legislation. In the IT field, legislation often comes after the solutions brought by technology, and understanding the opportunities for influence would be a key leadership task to reform the industry. It would be good to know the EU's new regulation related to artificial intelligence, the changing business environment and the related new legislation.

Higher education institutions should encourage students to think about the effects of technology, regulation, ethics and sustainable development together with the development of technology on society in a broader and future-oriented way, not just looking at today. Companies should get significantly more critical thinking, transparency, inclusive cooperation and openness to learn new things and making mistakes. Critical thinking and peer-reviews is needed also in business as already familiar within academy. This should be done information and data securely and by supporting cooperation between market players.

5. A multidisciplinary approach to lifelong learning

In the era of continuous, rapid technological renewal, curricula should be built multidisciplinary, always covering the various perspectives of artificial intelligence, data economy, information management, change management, psychology, philosophy and the creative sciences to name few. From the whirlwind of ideas, we should identify the ownership, role between different actors and find the guiding star of the future.

People should be encouraged to work in collaboration̈, in networks and ecosystems̈ with experts in different fields and to share their know-how and experiences with others. Companies should encourage learning and renewal always and over and over again. So called “Moka, Failure” is a gift, and learning is the greatest of human gifts, along with empathy and love. Courageous leadership also encourages going into the discomfort zone. For individuals, this can mean a new job role, a new industry, organization or a new way of working. Often it also requires unlearning, which is inherently very difficult for a humankind. Lifelong learning, change and renewal always creates new meaning̈ not only for the individual himself, but it is also vital̈ for the organization's value creation, renewal, vitality and future development.

Did you know?

Satakunta University of Applied Sciences Master's degree training is constantly renewed and keeping up with the times. For this year, we are bringing the new Future Leadership - degree program to the spring 2024 joint application, where you can learn and develop the topics discussed in this blog not only by yourself but also along with others.

At BIC, we also do extensive project collaboration on these topics. Several projects related to artificial intelligence, data and change management  as well as leadership are underway and in preparation for the year 2024. You are warmly welcome to join SAMK's time-changing and future-oriented coaching, research and development network!

About the writer:

Hanna has more than 20 years of work experience in digitisation, data-driven economy, growth and change leadership in five different industries. For the past 7 years, Hanna has worked in the IT field in leadership positions and as a management consultant. Hanna wants to help especially Finnish SME companies to renew, grow, internationalize and develop their competitiveness through digitalization. Hanna has experience in her own entrepreneurship as an online retailer, digitalisation and growth consultant and as a family entrepreneur. Hanna’s special interests are improvement of the customer and employee experience through digitalisation, people-oriented technology innovation, sales, marketing and technology-assisted value creation. In her free time, Hanna is active in various management boards and supervisory boards of various communities. What is close in heart to Hanna is lifelong learning, an open and curious mind, empathetic encounters with other people and forward-looking ecosystem thinking.

Hanna Kiviranta works at Satakunta University of Applied Sciences as a lecturer in data, AI and technology leadership in the Master’s degree. She also leads the Digiacademy 2.0 project funded by the Ministry of Finance at BIC.

Hanna Kiviranta portrait


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