Digital marketing forum at the University of Helsinki

Today, I had the pleasure of participating the digital marketing forum at the University of Helsinki. Our university aims to improve the customer experience management (student and potential student experiences, employee experiences as well as company-government relationship experiences) with the digital activities. Digital transformation in any university is a complex process that involves multiple parties. This transformation is complex process in business but even more complex within universities that are governed by the government.

Digital marketing forum was open Susanna Rautio who is leading the digital transformation. She highlighted the experiences and their role in digital activities. Rautio used metaphor of a hook when thinking about the experiences. Perhaps, hook is too brutal associated with whale hunting and many fishermen use a net instead. Depends on the size of the net and the location what type of fish you will get.

Digimarkkinoinnin foorumi.jpg

After insightful presentation of Susanna, Ossi Lindroos from Solita presented the Digital Transformation Roadmap which focused on the various aspects companies and service providers face when digitizing their business and marketing activities. He highlighted the different degrees of change firms and industries are undergoing due to Uber, AirBnB, Alibaba and business model innovation (not his words but the digital transformation is usually linked to radical rethinking of business models). In many cases audience nodded their head when Ossi presented different views on digital transformation.

Besides, Solita, Finnish company Voitto is helping University of Helsinki in the Digital Transformation process. Sari Haavisto CEO of Voitto confirmed that they have been heavily involved in crafting the Visit Finland project Visit Finland and their campaigns which have yielded considerable revenues for those in Finnish tourism industry. Co-branding with Finnair has been on the most visible campaigns. Voitto and their different representatives at the forum highlighted the omnichannel integration and implementation issues with various digital channels to tailor optimum customer experience is a big challenge that needs to be addressed with individualized KPIs in mind.

After the “company” speeches the digital marketing forum continued with University of Helsinki representatives giving talks from digitization of “communication” and “marketing” functions. Also student recruitment services presented their views. Indeed we have to be “customer” focused but focusing too much on the customer and their needs creates marketing myopia. Balance between customer focus and “Steve Jobs marketing” referring to doing what the company knows best, is needed.

To summarize, the three hours of digital jargon talk, many were thinking where’s the beef? How I can use digital marketing in my work (program leader, student acquisition, communications etc.) ? and the answers are difficult to give. It depends… on the contingencies.

Based on the digital marketing forum many things are changing and they are. But if it ain’t broken don’t fix it – goes with university marketing activities as well Not everything is changing – something is of course.  Many of the today’s pedagogical tools still work well – not everything has to be in the digital “format”. Yes, we need to recruit the best students and researchers and acquire funding and digital marketing can help in this but it is not the silver bullet.




Data science meets marketing

Yesterday November 15th, I was intending Aalto Marketing Society event in Nave Jerry where my former colleague Dr. Antti Vassinen Director of Data Sciences from Annalect, part of the Omnicon Group, gave a talk to students and managers from greater Helsinki area. Antti (second left in the picture) is inspiring speaker who has insights from business, practice and academia.



Most of us know that the more traditional advertising companies are selling advertising space and creative solutions and often it is up to the client to figure out how things are working.  Well, if you want the premium inventory e.g. first page of Helsingin Sanomat and their website, those are difficult to acquire without help of professionals.

Annalect, like some other digital analytics companies, are providing services to first understand the company baseline in marketing actions (e.g. where, how and when marketing activities e.g. banner, email etc. digital advertising or newspaper advertising were done previously and with what impact). Baseline provides the starting point from which they provide guidance and prediction what could be done to improve the earnings of each euro invested in marketing activities. Hence, marketing performance becomes a bigger issue and digital analytics, like those discussed by Dr. Joel Järvinen in his dissertation, are of increasing importance.

As Annalect is focusing their research and development efforts to managing publicly open data and their in-house data they can use those to enrich their customer’s data. Having said that, there are of course legal and other technical issues that need to be solved in each case.

Besides, data enrichment and customer insight their latest addition to their services is kind of a segmentation tool with 300 or so ready customer segments. This, is helpful for startups who might not have segments ready but also for more established companies were segmentation insufficient or done wrong.

Overall, I can say that the lively discussion with Antti and the students improved my understanding of the field of Finnish digital advertising specifically and then the data infusion and challenges in the machine learning and algorithm development.

10 years of Volunta’s

Our student union (marketing students) had their 10 year celebration at Helsinki last Friday. Starting at 6pm close to 100 students, so almost all of the students, participated the celebration. We started with very traditional speeches (two speeches from the faculty) and drinks and group singing (these are popular among student union parties) with drinks as well. Party was professionally organized as we had many breaks during the singing and after all main course and desert.

After 20 or so songs almost everybody was ready for the live music. The band was playing music that the relatively young audience wanted to hear and clearly it was a success. I enjoyed the celebrations and luckily I wasn’t the oldest in the bunch 🙂

Many of the students were worried what is going to happen with marketing when we at the University of Helsinki merge different bachelor and master level programs. It is clear that marketing as its own discipline will not exist anymore. It will be part of the food smth smth bachelor and master programs.

Before 12pm it was time to start closing the party and majority continued to after party and also the traditional morning party after the after party was in schedule for most of the students. As students have more energy than me I decided to head home. Perhaps, I should have taken the Redbull after all.

Public examination of thesis of (Dr.) Joel Järvinen

In Finland and some other European countries we have tradition in which doctoral candidate submits his or her thesis to be first examined by at least two external evaluators decided by the university in question. If the examiners approve the thesis then public examination – discussion follows some months later. Usually, this is formality but one out of 300 cases or so the thesis can also be rejected at the public hearing by the opponent. Last Friday October 21st I had pleasure of being public opponent for Mr. or should I now say Dr. Joel Järvinen. His doctoral thesis was titled “The Use of Digital Analytics for Measuring and Optimizing Digital Marketing Performance” so one could expect heavy and heated discussions on marketing performance and digital analytics and the show wasn’t a let down for the audience.

We managed to clarify basic concepts of digital marketing and even tough Dr. Järvinen did not use the concept of digital marketing that I proposed in the Journal of Digital Marketing I felt that he is on the right path. Besides, digital marketing concepts we also started with performance measurement problems in long term and short term. What is short and how long is long is up to you to decide. Also, we discussed what is being measured and why? and should we also include feedback loop i.e. overtime we learn to measure and realize that we measured wrong things and we should be able to reflect on that and learn from that to alter what is being measured.

Good example of this comes from former Soviet Union, at least this is how the story goes. A farmer back in the day of was using his tractor over the day to “perform agricultural activities” and when the day was nearly over he went to the boss and said “ I am ready”. Boss said that “No you are not, you still have some petrol left”. Then farmer realized  that boss measures petrol. Day after, when he was almost finished and the day was almost over he reluctantly pored the petrol to the ground, when the boss could not see. Then, he said to Boss “I am ready”. Boss said “Excellent work”. 

So what and why we measure is important but more important in marketing is to start with something and later when you learn, you can alter and think what can be and should be measured. What is spent on digital advertising is important question?, why invest in Facebook advertising and pay a lot if nothing happens (nobody converts and buys your products). What other options do you have ? Google and content marketing etc.

Dr. Järvinen was had excellent knowledge of digital analytics (web, automation etc.) and also he had good command of marketing performance literature. I used my traditional question to unbalance him “What are your axiological assumptions?” It took him a while but he managed that as well =) Good luck and all the best for Dr. Järvinen in future research projects.

After public examination we had lunch and drinks at the restaurant/hotel Alba with lake scenery. Dr. Järvinen in the middle and the supervisor Professor Karjaluoto on the right, closest to the camera.lunch


October visit to University of Oulu

Visited Oulu Business School (October 6th and 7th) to catch up with the doctoral students  as well as to see the seminar presentation of doctoral student Teck Ming Tan (pic below on the right side) whom I am supervising.  He received excellent comments from the audience as well as the two official opponents (Dr. Satu Nätti and Dr. Saila Saraniemi) who were asking the tough questions.


It is always admiring to see how well the doc students are performing. In Finland, we have system to evaluate research output nicknamed (Jufo, First level is basic international publication while second level is good international publication while level 3 is the most appreciated level. Most students are not expected to publish their research results at the level 3 but it is really nice to see them do so before graduation.

In addition, to thesis supervision, I managed to chat with my colleagues. Future seems to bring in data science, analytics and behavioral data at individual level. Hopefully, we are able to find interesting research questions and results and eventually publish those in Jufo 3 level or in the prestigious FT50 journals. At least now we are more ambitious than when I was doc student.

Besides, business it is always pleasure to visit hometown Oulu and of course spend some family time.

Digiajan asiakkuuspäällikkö F.E.C. (Tampere)

Aamu juna Tampereelle lähti Helsingistä kuuden jälkeen. Onneksi on vielä lämmintä ja eikä satanut vettä. Arjen pieniä iloja 🙂 Parin kymmenen opiskelijan energiat tartuivat nopeasti ja johdatus markkinointiin eteni digiviitekehykestä, someen ja data tieteen (data science) käyttöön vähittäiskaupassa. Lisäksi tarkasteltiin tulevaisuutta (Customer Experience Management  CEM). Kurssilla tehtiin pienempiä reflektointeja ja ihan mukavasti opiskelijat lähtivät mukaan ohjattuihin että spontaaneihin keskusteluihin. Ensi kerralla pitää ottaa kuvia koulutuksesta. Kiitokset opiskelijoille ja tsemppiä opintoihin sekä tietysti Aalto Executive education Pro ohjelmalle sekä Jaakko Kotilalle. Ohjelmasta lisää tietoa täältä (

Kiitos Jaakko Kotilan, nyt meillä on myös tilasuudesta kuvakin =)


University of Helsinki Science and Business in Dialogue – Food sector meeting

Today, I had pleasure to participate Science and Business Dialogue forum in which university, business and government come together to discuss pertinent issues in business and research.

University of Helsinki, opening speech
Jaana Husu-Kallio – University of Helsinki, opening speech

Our host was University of Helsinki and Sally Weaver was moderating the discussion. Innovation, international marketing, brands and digital marketing are clearly the themes that attract both attention of Finnish government, companies and and universities as well. Jaana Husu-Kallio from University of Helsinki open the forum for presentations and discussions. Jaana highlighted the importance of open cooperation (innovation) between university and companies. Then we had pleasure of having Heikki Juutinen Finnish Food and Drink Industries associations CEO/chair man. He supported the industry-university cooperation but also highlighted rightly that the Food and Drink industry companies vary in size, need and type of collaboration and Tekes type of projects are not always an option. After Heikki, research director Ilmo Aronen from Raisioagro gave excellent presentation on possibilities of industry-university cooperation which has lead to innovation Benemilk solution with also digital extension as a Tuotostutka which enables digital remote monitoring in e.g. cow nutrition management. We also had two other speakers from University of Helsinki Juha Helenius and Minna Autio. Juha presented an innovative closed agriculture ecosystem that produces eco milk, bread and other eco products while Minna highlighted the co-consumption and innovation by experience in the pet industry. In addition, to main speakers we had invited comments from three companies Valio, Lantmännen Unibake Inernational and Kyrö Distillery Company. Miika Lipiäinen from Kyrö Distillery Company highlighted that small companies have limited resources to participate and that closed innovation systems are not necessarily efficient.

Overall, I can say that Finnish government, companies and universities are eager to cooperate and innovate but question remains how we match the relevant needs. If a minimum “bet” for company is 5000 euros and entrepreneur has to bill 45.000€ for that 5000€ it is too much for SMEs. Open systems without bets are needed.

Acquiring money(s) for the research

Once a month or so you have meeting with academics from different institutions who come together to ponder how they can acquire money for research (to hire a doc student) and which EU-program or Finnish Academy call is suitable for their research idea. Many of these meetings don’t lead to collaboration or funded research as all research funding nowadays is highly competitive. I was lucky on Friday to sit in a meeting where at least I felt we have a nice chance of getting funding. Lets see how the things evolve and if this leads to research funding. At least the topic data science skills (big data) is of importance at the moment.

Visiting the Game Executive program at Aalto EE

Today, I had a pleasure to visit Aalto Executive Education ( and their Game Executive ( day. It was the last day of the program and people were of course exited. Walid-Elcheikh and Minna Wikholm have organized a great program for game executives (developers, managers etc.). During the day I had pleasure of hearing the views of Peter Zackariasson from the University of Gothenburg who recently published a book with Routledge on video game marketing. He was giving a speech on game industry marketing and branding. His view on thinking games as services is compelling.

After Peter’s views on marketing we had pleasure of having a presentation by highly talented Tero Kuittinen. He gave eloquent insights into how games should be communicated as part of a bigger commutation plan i.e. how games can improve health problems and more importantly how to link your game launch and game story into a broader frame that builds on some authentic Finnish issue e.g. Kalevala or Sauna.  Tero presented and tied into his presentation excellent example of Ustwo games and their Twitter use.

Today has been really nice experience as I started researching games in early 2006 by looking into how game companies could use advertising or sponsorship deals (advergame) in their games, specifically mobile games. I have been to some extent heavy gamer myself playing first with my cousins Vectrex, then PC, Xbox, Playstation and today in increasing amounts mobile tablet based games (Clash of Clans from get-go to Angry Birds). Still playing the Clash of Clans 🙂   My first academic publication on games appeared in 2007 focusing on the different game business models. Ever since I have been fascinated on the game industry and its developments, teaching it almost annually at my Digital Marketing class.

Today, in Finland with Supercell, Rovio and so many others like Fingersoft it is easy to be into game industry as it is popular area.