I've been following the on-going discussion about artificial intelligence, or AI for a while now. The discussion is extremely interesting as the topic overall is quite thought provoking. Usually, when it comes to AI-discussions, there are two main things people talk about: what we actually can classify or categorize as artificial intelligence and if AI will generate more jobs than what it will demolish. I thought that I would only cover the first topic in this post, but also look at my company, Maksuturva's standing in an "AI-world". Because success-stories usually require a bit more work than great planning, I decided to look at this from a broader perspective and a theoretical, more exactly a quantum mechanics-point-of-view.
The definition for artificial intelligence is developed every year, and so for it seems like the standard also becomes higher and higher. In all simplicity, before we had the gadgets we have today, AI meant that human labor can be carried out by machinery instead of by a breathing creature. Each and every one of us can get into the foundations of AI from i.e. Wikipedia.
The initial idea, to the companies I represent, Maksuturva Group Ltd and Maksuturva ICT Services, was generated in the end of 2003 when I asked author Pertti Järvinen a question. The question was about why nobody had combined logistical knowledge with payment information and then used the combined knowledge in process development. At this time, I still worked for the OP-group with service solution development. But how is this connected to AI? Well at that point I did not really perceive this as AI, but as an effective way to automatize money flow according to delivery terms and consumer behavior. When Maksuturva was founded in 2007 and the development of the service-platform started in 2008, we were probably the only actor in Finland that used dynamic logistics-information as a base for the money flow between consumers and merchants. Actually, we still might be the only actor doing this. The first person from the logistics field to hear about our idea was Kari Nykänen from Posti Group, which at that time was called Itella. Today it is a full-time-job for Posti Group to stay along in the on-going digitization- as it also is for quite a few other companies in Finland and Europe.
Ever since the start of the development in 2008, we have come to include a lot more (meta)data to the payment process-handling than just logistical information. We somehow function as a Tesla equipped with an autopilot- cameras directed in different directions monitor our surroundings, while processors standardize what is seen to "cases", that in the blink of an eye are developed into steering- maneuvers. Here at Maksuturva, our platform looks at both customer specific-parameter-information saved in our systems as well as at dynamic information that is created 24/7 when a consumer uses our services. There is a lot of information, which is of great use when we develop a high-class service-experience. The new PSD2-directive will broaden the dynamic perspectiv which results in even more effective services both for the consumer and the merchant.
Is this artificial intelligence? Well that is up to you, but for me it definitely is, and as I said before the AI-standard keeps getting higher every year. Since five years back we have called our services intelligent- and that is also why our slogan is ”Payments with intelligence.”
But how can even these almost unbelievable, commercial success-stories, like Apple, exist? Could Finland become the leader in artificial intelligence on commercial grounds? I doubt that Finland will get here simply with structured planning. Much more is needed, for instance things like passionate leading and an open mind for combining different factors. This viewpoint is based on conversations with Sari Ajanko, a certified business coach specialized in change leadership. With Sari we have discussed the similarities in quantum mechanics, a well known part of modern physics and commercial change leadership. Maybe this is a bit complicated? I will try to explain what I mean: Apple's founder, Steve Jobs was great at combining different factors, and therefore he could view at things from a completely different angle than most of us. He realized how these factors that really did not have anything to do with each other could be incorporated in Apple's success products. Job's life was filled with chaotic situations and he was not always seen as an easygoing person. All though, he had an amazing skill of turning life experience into something concrete- computers, mobile phones, tablets and other things the consumers desire. For instance today we have a freshly introduced Apple Pay. In a similar way, artificial intelligence generates opportunities, but there are not many of us who have the passion, intuition and determination to make choices that could lead to Apple-kind-of success stories. That is why I believe that hard-core investors often invest in people instead of ready products. So for, it is pleasant to se that Finland is growing past other countries in some business-areas. Would it now be the time for Finland to believe in oneself- like the ice hockey-team did in the World Championships back in 1995?
Well how what does then quantum mechanics, Steve Jobs and AI have to do with each other? Successful concepts like Apple are something you can not plan ahead. The brains behind these concepts have to be able to predict which branch of product-development will bloom next and then generate this belief in others. It is also crucial to be able to do adjustments with a short notice, otherwise it is not possible to keep up with the race. There is a lot going on at the moment- which makes it difficult for many to see the future AI-success stories among all of the hassle. Usually a lot of work is required before one can collect the harvest.
The writer is the CEO and one of Maksuturva's founders.