Katriina Valli: Progress with IoT is slow, with few comprehensive solutions

In recent years, the Internet of Things – IoT – has become an increasingly important part of the Finnish daily life. There are sensors monitoring the temperature, air pollution, vibration and even the capacity of waste containers.

Managing Director Katriina Valli from AI4Value, a company specialising in artificial intelligence, says that while some new technologies have been implemented in Finland, there is still a great deal of untapped potential.

“IoT has been progressing slowly. After the initial excitement, we are still seeing spotty implementations, and there are few comprehensive solutions”, Valli says.

Valli believes that, in 2 to 4 years, IoT will assist a growing number of Finns in their work. Based on IoT data, artificial intelligence (AI) can make recommendations that support professionals in their work. In health care, for example, IoT is useful and would help improve patient safety.

“Various IoT-compatible sensors could be used much more, for instance in inpatient status monitoring. IoT technology can also be used for tracking and improving hospital processes: e.g. when a patient comes from the emergency department for an examination, is everything done in a timely manner? How long will the patient need to wait to undergo an MRI scan?”

Revolution requires courage and better data

Many companies have started IoT projects in recent years. Most of these focus on optimising and streamlining processes, and few have real ambition to create new business, for example.

“Organisations’ typical drivers are finding efficiencies and cutting costs. Turning data into business and data-driven maintenance services, for example, would create new business, but companies lack the will to do something completely novel”, Valli says.

New business would often mean that IoT technology is used alongside AI. One particular thing that hinders this is the quality of data.

“Almost without exception, the quality of data is poor, and even good solutions are siloed. You should keep in mind that AI enables quick defragmentation and categorisation of data so that it can be used in a completely different way”, Valli explains.

The need for better data will also change the way we work in Finnish workplaces.

“Previously, people have been able to do things creatively in their own way without any regard to systems and processes, and it is people that have been the biggest problem in the process. In the future, people will not have to care about the quality of the data as much with an algorithm taking care of data defragmentation quickly”, Valli says.

4G is sufficient for most IoT applications

A high-speed 4G network is sufficient for most IoT needs, but 5G has its advantages in applications that require very little delays, for example.

“The current networks have been more than adequate for expanding the implementation of IoT, but 5G is driving the conversation about what IoT is and what it could do," Valli adds.

“Finland is at the top of the pack in the implementation of 5G. This is another competitive element that we need to start utilising as quickly as possible. There are many organisations in Finland that have already adopted 5G technology”, Valli says.