Innovating for sustainability
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Our CEO, Teppo Hemiä had the privilege of participating at a dinner hosted by Mr. Al Gore, a Nobel Prize winner and former Vice President of the USA this week. I personally admire Mr. Gore as one of the truly great leaders on this planet. He has used his intellect and the cumulative knowledge the science has provided us, for the good.

This got me thinking about the role of IoT, not only in making our lives better, but also in sustaining our lives on this planet. How sustainable is IoT?

From a purely economic point of view, the main purpose of any business is to maximize shareholder value. It can only do so if it can create value for its customers, in its partner ecosystem and for its employees. Investors, customers, partners and employees are the most important stakeholders of any business – all the rest are secondary. But as life is not black and white, secondary is often a pre-requisite for the priority.

Companies do not exist in a bubble together with their employees, investors and customers. Nor does the world around us stay still – values, rules and regulations change continuously. What was acceptable 100 years ago is not anymore. Natural resources are not infinite and technologies develop. Even if you can fulfill the needs of your most important stakeholder groups today, the future is another thing. That’s where sustainability comes into the picture – are you able to create value next year or in five or 20 years’ time? Is your business able to endure? At the end of the day the question is; do you want to maximize your returns in the short term at the expense of others or do you want to create a sustainable business that benefits all?

Science keeps on revealing new things about how the world around us works. Reacting and adapting to those new insights is part of what makes the human race sustain. Science is not always right, but it is the best methodology we’ve got for understanding the world we live in. As an example, climate change is threatening our planet, and it is probably the most pressing issue of our time. Furthermore, science has proved that the present climate change, in contrast to others that happened tens of thousands of years ago, is made by man. To disregard that fact is not sustainable.

Then what about IoT? I would argue that IoT is a key to sustainability. At the core, the basic idea of IoT is quite simple. It is all about collecting data and using it to learn how to do things better. This is what people have always been doing. One could call it human evolution. To be able to learn we need data, and this is precisely what IoT is about – getting data which was not available before and in volumes that were not available before.

The difference that the IoT brings, is in the scale and speed. With IoT we can get instant feedback of our actions and we have access to an unprecedented amount of data, which in turn will almost certainly reveal patterns we were not aware of before. IoT holds great potential in terms of efficiency and new services – in terms of making the world a better and more sustainable place.

The question is: Do you want your business to sustain. Do you want it to sustain the changes in the public opinion, in people’s values, customer behavior, rules, regulations, raw material supply. Do you want to be able to adapt in the face of new facts revealed by scientific method? If yes, then digitizing your business is sustainable, if not a pre-requisite for survival – it can pay to look at the bigger picture.

One of the biggest benefits that IoT offers is the possibility to program and re-program the physical assets around us. This helps to prolong the lifetime of the hardware, but even more importantly it enables it to adapt to the changing operating environment as we learn more. That is, if we want to.

–  Sebastian Linko, VP of Marketing, Communications and Investor Relations