Strategic use of GenAI artificial intelligence

The breakthrough in artificial intelligence has caused organizations to change their thinking patterns and operating methods. The airport company Finavia started working on an artificial intelligence strategy with Evolver.

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Finavia’s CIO Leyla Akgez-Laakso emphasizes the enormous benefits of artificial intelligence, especially in business environments where operational efficiency is constantly on the agenda.

“Artificial intelligence is one of the most interesting IT possibilities in a while from the point of view of operational efficiency and cost savings. Although Finavia does not aim to be a technological pioneer, we want to use technology whenever it can benefit us. We have a positive attitude towards artificial intelligence and want to explore its possibilities.”

Helsinki-Vantaa Airport Development Director Sami Kiiskinen from Finavia sees the possibilities of generative artificial intelligence permeating all industries.

A practical approach leads to strategy development

When artificial intelligence hit the news headlines in the spring of 2023, Finavia decided to map out the organization’s views on the use of artificial intelligence. The final result was cautiously positive, and it led to the decision to start strategy work to utilize artificial intelligence.

The internal discussions act as a springboard for starting work on an artificial intelligence strategy. We decided to cooperate with Evolver because the organization understood the need for external expertise.

“We wanted to use experts familiar with artificial intelligence to help. Through our preliminary discussions, it became clear that Evolver had deep practical experience-based know-how in the business-oriented utilization of generative artificial intelligence in the corporate world, and more broadly, a long history of digitizing business operations,” says Kiiskinen. 

The artificial intelligence strategy work investigated whether it was worthwhile and the right time to utilize artificial intelligence. The goal was to avoid haste and ensure a systematic approach, since the decision to pilot artificial intelligence would only be made later.

“We started from the bottom and moved upwards because we didn’t have an existing AI strategy, let alone a language model strategy. At the beginning, we wanted to clarify our needs and get it in writing, which would also help us organize ourselves internally,” says Kiiskinen.


The possibilities of artificial intelligence are explored in the workshops

Evolver carries out investigations related to business opportunities and technologies, which is what Finavia’s artificial intelligence strategy work was about. The package included workshops and discussions facilitated by Evolver, and the result was a report to support decision-making.

Kiiskinen thinks it’s good that the groundwork was linked to the addition of basic information: “We created a preliminary outline of what the possibilities of artificial intelligence are in Finavia’s business. The workshops were divided into different topics and perspectives which we worked on with our staff, facilitated by Evolver. It resulted in a fairly compact strategy-level paper, i.e. a tool that helps us decide how to proceed in a coordinated, data-secure manner and taking the risks into account.

Akgez-Laakso points out: “The artificial intelligence strategy was made in a short period of time. In the workshops, Finavia’s own aspirations were documented. In addition, we received insights from Evolver for evaluating our aspirations.”


Huge benefit potential while managing risks

At Finavia, special attention was paid to user safety and information security, which made safety issues a key starting point for utilizing artificial intelligence.

Artificial intelligence strategy work helped to outline possible risks as well as opportunities for success.

The work mapped out GenAI benefit potential for each of Finavia’s core business processes and identified concrete development opportunities in each area, taking into account risk aspects as well. Experts from different processes participated in the workshop.

“Data security and liability issues emerged as the biggest risks. Opportunities were widely identified. For example, we have a lot of text processing and analysis where artificial intelligence could be used,” describes Akgez-Laakso.

The risk vs potential benefit is an important part of the assessment in discussions and possible experiments. Kiiskinen says that the approach is natural:

“We start from where the risks are lower and the potential benefit is high. Now we at least recognize how we should select different starting points in terms of risks”, he states.


Successful change is ensured by good communication

The insights gained from the work reveal that getting the actual benefits still requires work.
“I’ve realized that even in this new technology there doesn’t seem to be an easy shortcut to happiness, there are many problems to be solved and matters to be dealt with before we get real benefits”, says Kiiskinen.

Practices based on artificial intelligence will inevitably bring changes to operating methods, which can bring its own challenges.

“Most of the use cases we identified require users to adopt new ways of working, which can sometimes be difficult. Ideally, the solution would be like an inconspicuous block that the IT department installs, but in reality, human and psychological challenges must be taken into account in all changes,” says Kiiskinen.

Akgez-Laakso adds that the change in operating methods is both the biggest challenge and the biggest opportunity. He emphasizes that technology itself does not bring solutions, but rather discussion, training and communication are needed before operational implementation.

“I believe that many will notice the possibilities of artificial intelligence by trying to use it themselves. The question is how people dare to actually use it at work. This requires encouragement, support and communication,” Akgez-Laakso lists.

Despite the concerns, Finavia is looking forward to the development. The effects of consulting on the internal discussions of the organization can be seen in the form of a desire to use artificial intelligence.

“From a business point of view, at least during this process we have come to believe that artificial intelligence has potential. We have a clear will to pilot artificial intelligence solutions in the future,” describes Kiiskinen.


Praise for agile cooperation

The cooperation gathers mutual praise. Akgez-Laakso particularly praises the rapid progress of the project: “We were able to complete the project with good momentum and quickly. Their expertise was obvious.”

Kiiskinen also emphasizes the importance of good communication and a clear project plan as a guarantee of success:

“We created a framework of what we were going to do and a great schedule – and then we were done! It worked well. Communication also worked smoothly. On the other end of the line were people who were easy to be and work with. It’s really important and lowers the threshold for working openly.”

Markku Nyman, Evolver’s project manager, thanks Finavia for the good internal organization, which contributed to the project’s success on a fast schedule:

“This was a really fast-track project. It’s fun to do something that people are really interested in! We know that there are always challenges to get people to show up when calling a large group together in the midst of their daily rush on short notice. We owe thanks to the customer for swiftly resolving all issues.”

Kiiskinen agrees: “With a reasonable amount of work, we received internal insight and expertise for the work. You can be satisfied with the input-output ratio of the end result.”


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