Nordic Digital Business Summit hits Helsinki and leaves a lasting impression

Posted in NDBS News / Posted By: admin

Helsinki’s second Nordic Digital Business Summit recently concluded to critical acclaim, raising Finland’s international profile in the Data Center, Cloud and IoT industries. The young B2B industry event ran in Kaapelitehdas on 24th September and featured fast moving agendas in two separate seminar halls, covering Data Centers & Cloud on one stage and the Internet of Things on the other. Presentations by 47 speakers and panelists from 11 countries kept both halls busy throughout the day for our 600 delegates.

The event was opened by Anastasia McAvennie, Managing Director of Onyx Group Oy and NDBS Event Director, immediately followed by Carl Wideman from DIGITICE Finland, who shed some light on why IoT companies and data center operators will likely be more connected “bed partners” in the years to come. Throughout the day this link was repeated and expanded upon as speakers reinforced the message that IoT and Digitalisation are driving the exponential growth and value of big data.

Morning keynote Cole Crawford, CEO of Vapor IO and founding Executive Director of the Open Compute Foundation, confronted traditional thinking and proposed that data centers must innovate in order to meet changing requirements while at the same time reducing operational expenditure and increasing return on investment. Cole’s message focused on the need to modernise data center infrastructure to take into account the changing environment by considering a holistic view of data center and cloud services.

Highlights throughout the day included a presentation by Palo Alto Networks’ René Bonvanie, who described the significant recent increase in DDOS attacks and said that we need to take a multi-layered approach to security. A joint presentation by Nissan Europe’s Francisco Carranza and Eaton Power Quality’s Fabrice Roudet showcased the Green Data Net smart energy management system, which includes the reuse of Nissan automotive Li-ion batteries as an alternative to the traditional UPS backup power solution.

Peace “broke out” during the Nordic panel discussion, where representatives of Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark discussed the possibility of a joint Data Center marketing approach in order to strongly represent the Nordics as the ideal data center investment location. Although it appeared difficult to find a common marketing model for the “competing” regions, what the panel members identified were some challenges faced by each country that could be tackled together. (For example the international perception and understanding of Nord Pool Spot energy pricing). It became clear that clusters are developing in the Nordic countries to strengthen each national proposal, which suggests that on a local level countries are recognising the harm that internal competition may be having on customer perception.

One of the afternoon highlights came from Finland’s ever-popular Ari Kurvi, who presented an update of Yandex’s progress in heat reuse and a message that it’s not that complicated. Ari has been in the public eye for the past 12 months as this case developed and the audience were very keen to hear the real results of implementation. This openness to share his work stems very much from Yandex’s agile and open approach to innovation, and Ari’s engagement with all relevant stakeholders within the heat reuse ecosystem. It was clear that over the past year, since announcing the project, it has worked very well and has proven that existing technologies can make excess heat a sellable utility.

Another case that has been very much in the public eye is the Hetzner Online investment into both the Cinia C-Lion Baltic submarine cable and a Finnish data center site. A joint presentation by Cinia’s Jukka-Pekka Joensuu and Hetzner Online’s Arno Pirner explained to the NDBS audience what the investment means to both companies, why the investment has been made and how the improved connectivity will help Finland and the Nordics connect with new markets in Germany and across Europe.

As the afternoon progressed Michael Tobin OBE rejuvenated the audience by initially appearing to question the Nordics as the ideal Data Center location, but the Former Telecity Group CEO went on to iterate the challenges and confirm (in the provocative and humorous manner he’s so well known for) exactly why the region in fact is the ideal location, and also what steps should be taken to satisfy demand.

The panel discussion on the topic of Russian Federation data privacy, security and storage was a catalyst for thought and debate, and came only a few days before the recent decision by the EU to invalidate the Safe Harbour agreement (EU to USA transfer of personal data framework). The panel focused on Russian Federation personal data law changes and the Russian Federation Internet Ombudsman, Dmitry Marinichev, provided an extremely interesting update on the recent softening of legislation. The panel answered many questions that will be useful in the coming years as this becomes a hot topic, especially as the Internet of Things leads to the generation and storage of more and more data that can be deemed as personal. What this highlights is the increasing importance of data privacy at national levels all across the globe. In the future we can expect to see companies of all sizes carefully considering geographic location when selecting a provider for data storage. One question that was raised is whether we will we see other countries following Russia’s approach of enforcing duplication and storage of their citizens’ personal information within each country or whether bilateral agreements will be created to circumvent this.

In the Internet of Things seminar, a central theme for the day was open innovation and co-creating value as part of the evolving digital service ecosystem. The morning keynote presentation by MIT’s Dr. Marguerite Nyhan outlined the Sensable City Lab’s mission to create the next generation of self-managing, smart cities by crowd sourcing live data from a plethora of sources. The challenge, according to Dr Nyhan, is to make these technologies smarter and less invasive in everyday human life.

In a world obsessed by Big Data, Google’s David Mothander suggested that data mining should be about more than only data science because the value of data lies in its relevance. That’s to say we must make sure the real data is not silenced by the noise generated by ever growing datasets. He went on to say that the challenge of creating a co-creation friendly environment is largely due to the enormous trust and security issues being revealed in digital ecosystems. He therefore stressed that maintaining the co-creators’ trust is central to encouraging disruption in the rapidly evolving internet of things, which might well evolve into the internet of dust in the near future – a reference to the smart, grain-sized sensory computers that can be injected into various environments to aid digital transformation and disruption.

Kreait’s Dirk Hofmann generated significant thought and subsequent interaction between NDBS’s startup and enterprise delegates following his presentation, in which he suggested that in today’s rapidly disruptive digital ecosystem, the experience or resources of an enterprise don’t count for as much as their ability to rapidly evolve and adapt to changing environments. He went on to say that in this digital age that’s dominated by millennials (users who would rather share than own), customers have a plethora of options to choose from and would rather choose the most adaptive and dynamic solution to their problems than the most durable one. He suggested that digital service providers should embrace rapid transformation by being agile and evolving rapidly through co-creation with the end users, by organising boot camps, hackathons and other events that aid and promote open innovation as a solution to real-life challenges.

A real life example of such an enterprise using co-creation and open innovation to fill an existing technological gap was provided by Symbio’s Vesa Kiviranta, who narrated the story of how their team developed a mobile platform for electric vehicle owners. Their service, developed for Volvo, is based on Apple’s Car Play and allows owners to control their vehicles and communicate socially with other such car owners who are connected through their interest in the environment. The service was developed on the principles of iterative innovation with input collected from active users at the end of each prototyping cycle. This process included pivoting and validation before productisation in order to achieve a faster time to market, with the objective of achieving validation from target customers whose insight was already being gathered.

Only the NDBS delegates who were present for the day’s seminars can fully appreciate the full scope of the day’s 32 individual sessions. Feedback gathered since the event indicates that the topics presented were educational and inspiring so the NDBS Management team would like to extend a message of thanks to all 47 speakers and panelists who participated.

The Nordic Digital Business Summit is only made possible by the commitment of sponsors, exhibitors and partners, who continue to communicate support for the creation and operation of this industry conference as a platform for Finnish and Nordic companies to come together with domestic and international industry professionals and customers. As a result of NDBS 2015 the event management team are aware of significant business transactions that have subsequently taken place, and new business relationships that have been formed.

Onyx Group Oy is committed to the review and improvement of the Nordic Digital Business Summit for the future and welcomes all input from participants and parties interested in future cooperation.

Enquires may be directed to Anastasia McAvennie, Managing Director, Onyx Group Oy.

Anastasia McAvennie
+358 45 8683 983