106 Communications

6th Sense

106 seconds with Amos Ahola, Senior Manager, Communications & Branding, Wärtsilä

July 2017 | 106 seconds

Amos has been leading the team responsible for Wärtsilä’s online communication channels and communications development for 6 years, during which the manufacturing corporation has become first an advanced technology company, and currently ongoing digital transformation to a true service company. During his career he has seen the rise of social media, not transforming business as much as many consultants predicted, but instead shaking the political landscape around the world in an unprecedented scale. The next paradigm shift is unclear, it might be AR, VR, AI, blockchain or something else, and very few will be able to predict the eventual impact of the shift, but Amos for sure will try. During the past years Amos has also been active in Finnish politics and a CEO of two software startups, one of which is still alive and kicking.

What’s been the key to the digital transformation at Wartsila?

Enough top management commitment in terms of budget, internal resources and will. I believe that digital transformation cannot happen piecemeal, the old culture will eat any small incremental change for breakfast.

How have you won over your leadership team?

Charlie Sheen had one view to winning, I have a different one. There is no such thing as a victory, only progress. Victory means that you stop running, and that’s when you lose.

What’s the next challenge in this transformation?

The culture change is the most difficult one – when the company has existed for more than 180 years, and its roots are deep in the manufacturing and process industry, breaking the traditional mindset about what is value creation is difficult. 

You mention killing email on your LinkedIn profile; do you think we will ever see the end of email?

For sure – we have seen it happen already in regards to emailing among friends; nowadays we use better (in terms of productivity) protocols such as Facebook and Whatsapp. When Microsoft figures out how to combine task and calendar management with a context-aware communication flow, we will see the death of email in business context as well. In practice, Microsoft could already change the underlying protocol of Outlook and it would do the trick, but for some reason they haven’t figured it out yet.

You spent a year as an Exchange Student at the University of Hong Kong; what was that like?

Half a year actually, it taught me that each society has its strengths and weaknesses, and that most of their inhabitants are oblivious to the weaknesses of their societies. Finland needs to reform survive in the modern world, but it is incapable to do so, as many generations don’t see a need to change, as they are well off.

Finally, who in the world do you most admire?

The comedian Andy Kaufman, you have to admire his capability to think outside the box.

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