CEO looks to the future – what to build tomorrow’s growth on and what trends to pay attention to?

What kinds of questions do the CEOs of big companies turn over in their heads? Jussi Tolvanen has just started in the role of DNA’s CEO, before which he has led Microsoft’s Finnish operations, among other things. He believes that most people in positions like his naturally think about where tomorrow’s profitable growth can be found. As they should.

“When it comes to Finnish companies, now’s the time to look for that brave growth we often talk about. That’s what future prosperity will be built on, here in Finland as everywhere else,” he says.

“Of course, we also need to keep an eye out for potential disruptions, such as operators entering the market from outside the sector. Operators like a startup that explodes into a big player. At the same time, the question of how we develop our own personnel’s skills on the one hand and find new top professionals on the other also needs to be on the agenda. The competition for skilled professionals has been stiff for a while now.”

Technology offers the key

DNA is publishing its fifth annual list of technology trends that will prove influential in the coming year. The list compiles stronger and weaker signs about technology and working life. Having just taken the helm of the telecommunications operator, Tolvanen naturally has 5G and its potential applications on his radar.

“5G will be replacing traditional fixed connections and making it possible to build new private networks and split up networks into critical functions.”

Tolvanen also considers data security to be a particularly interesting and fast-moving area.

“You do hear talk about data security, but it’s disjointed. We need to understand it in a more holistic way. At the moment, Finland is under-investing in both data security development and building the associated knowledge,” he says.

Tolvanen sees technology as the key to solving many future challenges, whether that be achieving greater energy-efficiency or addressing human shortcomings. 

“Technology and innovation are going to play an important role in combating climate change. Of course, the critical problem to solve is energy in relation to, for example, the production of steel or cement.” 

Eyes firmly on the horizon

Another question on Tolvanen’s mind is equality – how to ensure technology supports everyone. He keeps a particularly close eye on low code and no code developments, which open the doors to application development for people who are not coders.

“For example, if public administration could get its hands on a large number of people who can build applications to solve the slowdowns brought on by manual document handling and other bottlenecks, their operations would speed up significantly. When you have the right platforms, you can implement solutions quickly and in many different areas. Helsinki University Hospital’s Coronabot is a great example of this.” 

A CEO’s job is to steer the ship past the rocks and on to success. To succeed in the role, you need to keep your ears open and your eyes on the horizon. According to Jussi Tolvanen, listening to what people in your own organisation have to say is key, but he also looks for information in more distant places.

For example, Tolvanen follows technology media closely and is always ready to talk with people from different sectors. He also keeps a healthy library of audiobooks at hand. Some recent sources of inspiration he cites are Aki Hintsa’s books, Petteri Kilpinen and Antti Hagqvist’s Varianssi and Carol Dweck’s Mindset books.