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window to information

Blog March 17, 2017

A window to information

Can we trust one system to have all relevant information for us? No, according to Tommi Salmi. Instead we have to combine information sources in a smart but also reliable way.

Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth. - Marcus Aurelius

In the year 2000, I lived in France and marvelled at the friendly personal service I received, when opening a bank account. I had an appointed contact person, with whom I signed all of the necessary papers, in a backroom of the bank. My contact and other information was written down in my contact person’s personal notebook. Computers were not touched. Even back then, I wondered what would happen to my information or customer relationship, if my contact person fell ill or left the company. But when in Rome... The service was friendly, even though the situation is, of course, laughable from an information control perspective. Maybe we shouldn’t laugh. Is the situation really that much better in Finland, in 2016?

We, here in Finland, have a habit of solving many things by increasing control. Document management, CRM, ERP, data banks, etc. Good solutions for specific localized problems. The challenge is that, while managing practical issues, we must combine “facts” from different systems, which alters the facts into opinions and perspectives that are strongly subjective. Can a patient information system be a “single view of a patient” that covers all essential things? Can a CRM system include all relevant information on a customer?

No, they cannot, because in the age of digitization, information sources form and die out at such a pace that systems, based on control, cannot keep up. When making decisions, we inevitably combine our own silent knowledge and views, readily provided by Google, into the same mix. This is how we can form a vast variety of different ways to utilize information and form opinions, even within the same work description.

Disruption is a term that cannot be avoided in business seminars. In this changing world, a more ninja-like touch is needed alongside the samurai-spirited control systems. For example, Blueprint Genetics that conducts medical genetic research, utilizes IBM’s Big Insights and Watson Explorer technologies to find just the right documents from the millions in the continuously developing field of scientific data and combine them with structural information, so that geneticists would have the right information in front of them, at exactly the right time and at exactly the right stage of the research process. This way, they can combine the know-how of the geneticist with relevant information and, in essence, infinitely scale the process.  I believe that, as with Blueprint Genetics, the only solution to achieve a holistic general view around a certain entity is to form a layer – a kind of a “window” – that compiles information, fast and easily.

Perhaps, Marcus Aurelius was right. There is no one common truth or at least it is difficult to obtain. Different people have different sized windows to customers, processes, partners, providers and so on. However, I am sure that a company would gain added value if each window was as large as possible. Because the view is constantly changing.


Tommi Salmi, Director, Business Solutions at Enfo