“There will be no business without a continuous drive towards sustainable and environment-friendly operations. This includes responsibility in sourcing and fair treatment of employees,” says Bjørn Taale Sandberg, DNA’s recently appointed Chief Strategy Officer. Photo: DNA.

 At the cusp of a great transformation

Sustainability plays an increasing role in how ICT enterprises shape their ecosystems and develop tomorrow's technology. Constantly growing amounts of data, both economic and social changes, also set their challenges. DNA is committed to producing future-proof solutions based on low latency, high performance, and highly reliable connections.

”Let me be very clear about this. There will be no business without a continuous drive towards environment-friendly operations. This includes responsibility in sourcing and fair treatment of employees,” says Bjørn Taale Sandberg, DNA’s recently appointed Chief Strategy Officer. ” Sustainability and the ESG criteria are fundamental in our thinking. That’s all there is to it."

Despite having been with DNA for only months (at the time of writing), Sandberg is, in fact, a long-time contributor at DNA’s parent company Telenor. He first entered the enterprise in 2000, and for the last ten years, he has been the Senior Vice President of its research unit.

”We must look at two aspects of sustainability in the ICT industry. First, we need to look at our footprint. Our industry is responsible for as many emissions as aviation. We must find ways to cap the emissions and critically consider our energy sourcing.”

DNA is committed to science-based targets in sustainability. The company works with its ecosystem to curb its environmental impact – favoring partners that can prove their operations align with sustainability principles.

“Second, as an industry, we have a sizeable opportunity to do good through our work with our customers,” Sandberg says. “We are involved in re-designing industrial processes that leverage the latest communication technologies. The range is huge, from mining operations to platooning transport trucks to reduce energy usage through a real-time connection.”

The latter refers to a 5G setup where several trucks automatically follow the lead of the first vehicle in the platoon. The distance between the trucks is minimal, and they simultaneously accelerate, brake, and turn as a unit. In a test project by a Japanese cellular operator, platooning reduced energy usage by as much as 25%.

“It’s highly motivating to be part of an industry that enables these kinds of projects. We’re at the cusp of a new era in human history and telecoms can play a central role in making it happen.”

Finland looks to the future

Like the rest of the world, the Finnish market is witnessing a perfect storm of economic and societal change. Fast-evolving technologies such as 5G, Internet of Everything, and Artificial Intelligence are at the beating heart of the transformation. We may not consider the changes we have seen so far to be enormous. However, as Sandberg points out, we tend to overestimate short-term change and underestimate it in the long term. Tectonic shifts are on the horizon.

“That’s why our investment in the Finnish telecom market is decisive. We have the lowest network latency in the country. The low round-trip time is crucial to industries that need to be able to build their future strategies on effective control of robotics and automation. With 5G, you can connect more nodes to your system than ever before, and you have previously unimaginable amounts of data at your disposal. It is a time of great business opportunities, and the future favours bold innovators.”

Sandberg describes our time as the proof-of-concept for things to come. In testing the business solution for tomorrow, the various parts of the ecosystem must work together organically. The role of a telecom operator is increasingly in the core business transformation team. As part of Telenor, DNA engages with clients and research organisations to make the most out of communication technology.

“We did a project with the University Hospital in Oslo that created a diagnostic pill camera” Sandberg says. “You swallow the pill, and it enters your gastroenteric system looking for early signs of cancer. The tiny robot sends imagery of your colon to a 5G modem in your belt, and it sends it onwards to the data cloud. The hope is that an AI running in the cloud can control the pill in real time – speeding up or slowing down to get more pictures when an area looks interesting. This will give doctors the best possible evidence on which to base their diagnosis.”

Moreover, the pill camera is less painful for the patient than traditional colonoscopy, at a fraction of the cost.
Innovation made possible by low-latency, high capacity and extremely reliable connectivity is what DNA is committed to enable for its enterprise customers in Finland.

All for the customer

According to Sandberg, in a changing business landscape, the key is to focus on customer needs and understand what will help them succeed.

“That’s the one constant of our strategy. Much of strategy may change fast in these exciting times, but customer focus remains. We want to create value for them as it tends to come back to us, too.”

Sandberg is proud of the international reach of DNA and Telenor. The group operates networks, and its experts collaborate with customers in multiple markets. The geographical reach translates into being able to help customers across markets and for company employees to work outside Finland. Sandberg encourages the people at DNA to explore internal opportunities abroad.

“We see that experts give their best to the customers when they have freedom and autonomy in their work, and that’s how we want to have it. I’m very much impressed by the people who work with us at DNA.”

“Our people have a lot to give to the world. All that talk about Finland being a digital lab for the world is spot on.”