Finland - Information technology benchmark for best practices
Finland is situated between Russia and Sweden and it is bordered by Gulf of Bothnia, the Baltic Sea, and the Gulf of Finland. Finland is over 330,000 square kilometres which, by measure, is a little bit smaller than Montana. The border that Finland shares with Russia spans more than a thousand kilometres and almost 600 kilometres with Sweden. Approximately 1,200 kilometres of its borders is coastline, and this does not include islands and coastal indentations. Helsinki is the capital of Finland and it is geographically the northernmost capital in Europe although it is located in the southern part of Finland. In fact, most of the nation‘s more than 90 towns are located south of the country. The island province of Åland which is situated between Sweden and Finland is also considered as part of Finland. Most of the islands surrounding the main territory are Swedish-speaking.
Finland has lately scored huge in the ICT field when the country was recognized as the worldwide trailblazer in development-enhancing information-technology readiness initiatives, edging the United States in the ranking. This is based on the latest report made by the World Economic Forum. The WEF report was released in conjunction with the Information for Development Program and Institut European d'Administration des Affaires’ list of 82 global economies that promote information-technology readiness in relation to productivity and economic growth. The study was included in a 255 document which made use of more than 60 gauging standards some of which include the level of information technology use by businesses and citizens, Internet connectivity, and e-government initiatives and their progress.
Formerly ranked 3rd back in 2001-2002 in the same study, Finland edged out the United States in the 2nd spot in the 2002-2003 report, and today, it has reached the top spot in the WEF's Networked Readiness Index. The new to ranking was powered by Finland’s commendable performance in terms of technology utilization by its businesses, its people, and the government.
The Electronics Scene in Finland
Finland has a massive electronics industry (which includes eletro-technical tools) which currently employs almost 64,000 people generating 19.1 billion Euros and that was way back in 1997. As early as 1999, 26% of Finland’s total exports are high-tech products and the massive growth experienced by the country in this industry can be credited to the surge in popularity of mobile-phone maker Nokia. Nokia started out as a riverside paper mill in the southern part of Finland, and the company began making huge investments in high-tech research during the early 80s. Today, it is now one of the leading mobile phone makers in the world. The success of Nokia shows how Finland puts a great emphasis on research and development, in fact, the government spent almost 9% of its earnings on research and development in 1999.
Telecommunications in Finland contributed over 2% to the Finland’s gross domestic product in 1997. The government has made sure that the framework for better communication is established by setting up massive, cheap, and extremely sophisticated as well as efficient network and this has allowed most of the industries in the country to grow.
In 1995, the Finnish government enacted a series of regulations that promotes the flexibility of telecommunications operators allowing them to share and trade openly. The government also made moves to remove the need for telecommunications operators to secure licenses. However, a license is still necessary to operate mobile phone networks. This leniency in telecommunications regulations has increased competition in this particular sector as the government kept the tariffs some of the lowest in Europe. There has been a great demand for data processing services thanks to Internet connectivity and the continent’s full=scale adoption of the euro.
The former Telecom Finland, which is now known as Sonera Corporation, along with 45 privately-owned local telephone companies represent the majority of the telecommunications market.
New information technology infrastructures, products and services
There is a lot of developing industries in Finland that offer exciting opportunities for forthcoming growth. In line with this, Finland is consistently developing first-rate proficiency in energy and environmental-friendly solutions such as smart transportation, waste processing and clean water production. Because of the embedded framework, there is an expected increase in the demand for new ICT infrastructures, services, and products.
Some of these new technologies will dwell on healthcare, energy, and more on telecommunications. Digital media has also risen and it offers new and amazing opportunities on the PC internet and the mobile internet and that includes virtual reality applications and games. And as this Scandinavian country is spending a lot in research and development and this move has always kept the country afloat over the past so many years. And, Finland has plans to move forward and the country is currently exploring the many possibilities on clean technology.
The Road to ICT Success
Even though Finland is geographically located on the edges of Europe, for many years the country has been in the middle of the continent's technological industry.
The country gave birth to cell phone leader Nokia and has emerged as a place where multinationals like to recruit and erect labs. The government and local entrepreneurs are now moving into clean technology. The speedy progress that the nation is experiencing can be traced back to the policies the government has set up back in the early 1980s.
The people had the foresight of seeing the coming of globalization they decided to invest in it. Knowing that they would not be able to compete with Asian companies when it comes to low salaries, what they did was invest on education and huge research and development directed on the expansion of telecommunication facilities and anything that has to do with new technologies.
The government has made sure that there are more than enough funds allotted for research and development. More than 3 and a half percent of the country’s gross domestic product is allocated specifically for research and development and there are very few nations that spend that kind of amount on the same endeavours. Most European members are spending on R&D far, some at 2%.
Approximately two-thirds of the research and development funds in Finland are coming from the private sector and the other one-third from the government. This shows that there is a cooperative relationship between the private sector and the government. However, despite the large funding, it is not the government which decides where the fund should go, and that is the beauty of the ICT policies that Finland maintains – truly a benchmark for best practices.
Matti Vanhanen, the Finnish prime minister from 2003 to 2010, is constantly traveling around the world with the goal of promoting Finland as a technology hub, and at the same time, emphasizing the issue of climate change. He has met with important dignitaries such as Vice President Dick Cheney, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Bill Gates.
A year ago, Finland has established an organization in Silicon Valley called FinNode the goal of which is to promote cross-border cooperation, something that is similar to Jetro or the Japan External Trade Organization. Matti Vanhanen is a known advocate of energy conservation, and on his visits, he is encouraging other nations to act fast in creating technology that will also help save the environment. Although he does not believe that something drastic can be achieved fast, he believes that if people do not act, a disaster is imminent.
Nanotechnology in Finland
In the past decade, nanotechnology has suddenly reached global recognition, acceptance, and application. This is due to the fact that nanotechnology provides a new opportunity to develop an entirely new kind of technology. Finland has acknowledged the importance of nanotechnology. The development in the field has been driven by cooperation between many industries and the government’s science department. The Finnish public and private sector aggressively promote the experimentation and utilization of nanotechnology in various industries.
No thanks to its very northern location, Finland actually uses up more energy for every person compared to its other European counterparts. In order to reduce gas emissions, a law in Finland was enacted to impose carbon taxes on vehicles. The law provides tax incentives to cars that get better mileage compared to cars that have high gas emissions with lower mileage. The taxes range from 10% of the car's worth up to 40%. This has had an effect on the value of cars with smaller ones costing about $10,000 less than last year, and huge cars that create a lot of pollution can cost $50,000 more than last year. The effect is prompting more consumers to go for more eco-friendly cars.
Finland As a Knowledge Economy
Back in the 1990s, Finland invested on knowledge and this generated speedy economic growth and transformation. In less than ten years, Finland has become an ICT hub and it has driven the economy ever since. Finland has been touted as a world leader in ICT innovation, information society development and high quality ICT products. It is one of the most advanced information societies in the world. Finnish research and development investments are the third largest in the world. Some of the many well‐known technologies and services that began in Finland include Linux, the SMS, ring tones and Internet banking services. Finland is also an innovator when it comes to mobile telecommunications services and applications. The country is now known in the electronics and high technology field, but traditional branches of industry have stayed and today, Finland is still one of the world’s leading wood product producers. Aside from pristine forests, Finland’s has a diverse number of different rocks which are suitable for industrial purposes.
In Finland, the largest sector of the economy lies in services which amount to 65%. Close by is the refining and manufacturing sector at 31%. The other 3% is on primary production.
Finland is a competitive economy
Today, because of its earlier economic initiatives, Finland is ranked as one of the most competitive economies in the world. Finland also ranks among the top when it comes to training surveys and higher education, and its strong emphasis on education over many years have resulted in so many economic benefits. One of the benefits is having a workforce that has the skills required to adapt quickly to a fast changing environment. The same initiatives have also laid paved the way for higher levels of technological innovation and adoption. And one of the reasons why Finland has reached this far is because it is one of the least corrupt nations in the world.
About two decades ago, no one would have imagined what we are enjoying now with information technology.
Finnish Social and Technological Innovations
Finland has, over the years, created a highly organized emphasis in promoting technological modernization, using a variety of initiatives and channels. The government has employed various nationwide innovation strategies, technology programs, and a vast network of regional technology and science parks. It is one of the leading countries internationally when it comes to research and development funding per individual. Finland has also become a leader in social innovations.
Finnish businesses have always been pioneers in the utilization of new technologies. Finnish scientists and engineers are world-renowned in many technological fields and products. They include a long list of products on engineering, forestry, and information and communications technology.
You may not be aware of this but the very popular game called Angry Birds was actually from Finland. For the past few years, the gaming industry in Finland has been growing comprehensively. The major moving factor in this success is the country’s strong and happy gaming culture. Playing games here in Finland is publicly enjoyed and accepted and gaming is becoming an increasingly popular way of spending one’s spare time. Today, more and more Finnish companies are willing to spend in order to bring in innovations. Finland’s outstanding education system and infrastructure has helped some of the best technology experts in making Finland a leader in high end gaming technology.
Finland is the only Scandinavian nation that is a member of the 15-member Euro-zone. Because of its strategic location, Finland has become a gateway into the expanding markets of Northern Europe, including the fast emerging Russia and the Baltic states. Finland is the 4th richest country in the Euro-zone based to its per capita gross national income, and despite its earnings, it is also one of the most thinly populated in the European Union. The country is covered with forests covering two-thirds of its area, and water covers a tenth of its entire area.
Today, Finland is globally considered as one of the most competitive and transparent business environments in the world. It has become a world leader in technology, innovation, and the knowledge economy. Finland is not an innovator when it comes to information technology, it has also successfully created a wonderful teamwork and partnership between the educational institutes, the research centres, and the IT industry. That is the reason why the country has a remarkably skilled workforce as well.
Finland has also diversified its high tech know-how with eHealth, a benchmark in good health practice. It’s the latest Finnish strategy that centres on the utilisation of ICT in welfare and health. It has been hinged on the concept of a citizen-centred, unified service structure. Because the goal is to make the service absolutely seamless, good ICT technology is an absolute necessity to provide speedy and quality information access. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is making sure that the implementation of eHealth using the finest ICT technology pulls through. A government initiative, the National Health Project Programme specifically stressed the use of ICT. The surveys showed the success in implementing this government health program with the application of several ICT strategies.
A comprehensive study on the use and implementation of ICT on the Finnish health system was conducted by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health within 4 years. The survey was web-based and it contained questionnaire that covered topics such as the identification of the responding organisation as well as the respondent, questions regarding the adaptation of electronic patient record systems, the various systems to be used in the transfer or exchange of patient information that may be required between different health and government organizations during the health care processes, the standards that will be used in the transfer of patient information the different means of identification, authentication, the adaptation of different eServices for patients, and the costs of ICT. The survey was focused on all people who specialize in primary health care as well as private medical service providers. The response was tremendously high and this will help the government implement and improve all ICT systems and applications whether already in use or still at the planning or implementing stage.
Finland Telecommunications and Technology companies include:
· Rovio Mobile
· Star Arcade