Going global: Digitalization is a huge opportunity

Becoming a global company is an impressive feat, and not every business that sets out to do it accomplishes the goal. Here is what a couple of representatives of two different business models, Wolt and Fiskars, have to say about it.

Before awarding Finnish personalities and companies of outstanding social media presence in 2015, SomeAwards Finland organized four seminars about the digitalization of media, marketing and advertising. In one of these seminars, in the beginning of February 2016, Juho Jokinen, the CEO of Finland’s leading social media advisory Dingle, hosted a Talk Show concerning business and digitalization, interviewing startup-entrepreneur Juhani Mykkänen of Wolt and Daniel Goodall, the Director of Digital Experience at Fiskars.

See the Talk Show and other social business insights in the Globalization via Digitalization Webinar.

When you go from market to market, what kind of research about the system, the politics and the laws of the country do you do beforehand? Do you find the research important, or is it just better to ask for forgiveness than for permission?

Juhani: I think the most important thing is to feel you are doing the right thing, so if something goes bad, at least you know you didn’t do it on purpose and you tried to be fair to everyone. We are in a place where there are big changes in the way people work.

For example, we used to be in the media about whether we pay our drivers enough, is it fair for our drivers to work on a freelancer contract instead of being on the payroll? This is the kind of discussion we are happy to be a part of, because we know our drivers are happy to have flexibility with their shifts, being completely able to decide when they are going to work. That is the good side, the downside being that they will have to take care of their own pension payments, for example. We feel this is something that is going to change in general.

There are lots of different companies in different markets and areas that are doing this sort of thing, and there are some lawsuits, so being in the middle of the change it is important to see what happens. We do our best research to make sure we do everything by the book and that we will have our own conscience clean, and then we will see what happens.

"We do our best research to make sure we do everything by the book and that we will have our own conscience clean, and then we will see what happens."

Startup-entrepreneur Juhani Mykkänen of Wolt

Daniel, what challenges are there in running the digitalization in a big and siloed company like Fiskars?

Daniel: I think it is an opportunity for digitalization. It is true that Fiskars has purchased a bunch of different companies, and only recently Alexander Matt was hired as a Senior Vice President of Brand on a corporate level.

So there has been no marketing and branding kind of thinking in a way, it’s been more of purchase based on business reasons, accounting reasons, these sort of separate brands. Now we are trying to work on an overall brand, that can act as an umbrella for the sub brands, and trying to understand what these brands have in common and how they can help each other.

From a digital perspective, of course, people who buy Iittala products also buy Fiskars products, so it is actually a huge opportunity to understand consumers much better. But that takes a whole level of investment in insights, going back to my point on insights. We have an opportunity to understand people on a deeper level than we have in the past, when we are just talking about tools for example. But it is challenging when you have different countries, different brands, different cultures – some very traditional, some very elitists.

"We have an opportunity to understand people on a deeper level than we have in the past, when we are just talking about tools for example."

There are some markets where the Iittala salesman doesn’t want to have the Fiskars card and the Fiskars email address, because he or she feels that it isn’t an appropriate brand for them to walk into a high-end store and sell Iittala products. So there are issues, I guess, related to the different brands, but I am optimistic. Alexander Matt is a smart guy, and he is trying to change things. He is thinking about these two big things, the umbrella brand and the digitalization, on a corporate level, and it is a great opportunity for us to work together. It was only a few years ago that we didn’t even have the same email addresses, so Fiskars was more like a holding company for separate companies. Email is not the answer, but at least we have the same addresses and intranet, these are the kind of fundamental things that weren’t possible before.

"But it is challenging when you have different countries, different brands, different cultures – some very traditional, some very elitists."

Do you think that one of the drivers for this kind of change was digitalization? Does it force you to bring the different brands closer together?

Daniel: Once you have the World Wide Web, YouTube and things like this where you can watch videos in any country, in an expectation of a consumer’s that “I can order any product from this brand” – that forces working together. But digitalization doesn’t necessarily force the Iittala team to work together with the Fiskars team, we could work quite separately, but there is an opportunity to work together now, and some advantages that did not exist previously in terms of understanding people.

"There is an opportunity to work together now, and some advantages that did not exist previously in terms of understanding people"

Daniel Goodall, the Director of Digital Experience at Fiskars.

Juhani, what would be your one piece of advice for bigger companies on where to start the digitalization? Or what to focus on, hoping that everybody has started already?

Juhani: It is very hard for me to think in terms of digitalization. I think that more and more stuff is digital and digital stuff is just more tools we now have available. I think good advice is not to tell someone to have like a digitalization workshop once – just try to go to the core of what are you trying to do, what are the problems you want to solve and who are your customers. Take individual people who are your customers and just meet with those guys, talk with them. Try to understand, are you helping them on a daily basis, and if not, how could you do that? All these digital tools being available, digitalization will just follow. I would say don’t start from there.

"I think that more and more stuff is digital and digital stuff is just more tools we now have available. I think good advice is not to tell someone to have like a digitalization workshop once – just try to go to the core of what are you trying to do, what are the problems you want to solve and who are your customers."

Daniel: I think that is great advice. Marketing has become synonymous with promotion, but of course there are many other P’s in marketing.

Theodore Levitt [a legendary marketing professor of Harvard Business School] said: “We don’t buy quarter inch drills, we buy quarter inch holes.” Actually he was wrong, of course, because nobody wants holes either. People want to put up shelves and they want to improve their homes. So people selling drills and holes are actually in the home improvement business and the home beautification business.

"By understanding what kind of problem you are solving exactly, it opens up all kinds of possibilities, they become much more obvious."

By understanding what kind of problem you are solving exactly, it opens up all kinds of possibilities, they become much more obvious. Fiskars has been kind of stuck in this idea that we produce products and we sell them, but we are not solving the bigger problems in people’s lives that are related, so that is a big opportunity for us to transform.

Source:  Globalization via Digitalization Webinar.

Daniel Goodall originates from England, but has lived in Finland for a while now. His career has taken him from working at American Express in London through having an MBA in Finland and working at Nokia for many years, through working at the advertising agency 358 and at Rovio, finally to Fiskars, the oldest company in Finland and one of the oldest companies in Europe. He has been hired at Fiskars to be a part of the digital transformation. Exactly what that means, is still to be defined, according to Daniel, but after a six month’s experience he can tell it is an interesting role to be a change agent in an extremely old company with extremely traditional way of doing things.

Juhani Mykkänen says he has a mixed background – he is a Master of Science in Technology, but after studying IT Business he ended up working at Helsingin Sanomat (Finland’s largest daily newspaper) as the Editor in Chief of the weekly NYT-liite and Sanoma Corporation’s Radio Helsinki. Wanting to try out in an industry, where there would be possibilities for growth, he finally co-founded Wolt, an app and a service, which helps people to get their favorite food with a press of a button. Wolt launched in Helsinki in 2015 and is now growing fast, with Juhani working as the COO.

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