Embracing AI Responsibly: Interview with Päivi Rekonen

Embracing AI Responsibly: Interview with Päivi Rekonen

Embracing AI Responsibly - Interview with Päivi Rekonen

This week we discussed the developments in AI and its implications for the IT industry and its customers with Päivi Rekonen, an accomplished independent strategy advisor and professional board member. With her career spanning over 25 years, Ms. Rekonen has gained a wealth of experience in technology, which she gladly shared with us. Let’s take a look at AI adoption, responsibilities, challenges, and strategies for success.


AI in Healthcare and IT

Tatiana Chesniak: Let's start our conversation with AI. Since there have been a lot of developments in AI in recent years, what do you consider to be the most exciting developments?

Päivi Rekonen: There are many, but one universally important development, in my opinion, is AI in healthcare. There are significant advancements in AI, such as image analysis, drug development, robot-assisted surgeries, personalized treatments, and, of course, whole back office support, such as virtual nursing, virtual doctoral assistance, which offer massive opportunities for healthcare. These technologies are really able to enhance speed and accuracy of diagnosis.

T: How do you see the IT industry evolving with AI development? What should we expect?

P: I think we should expect a lot. Of course, AI has been around for a long time, it’s nothing new, yet it imposes a big responsibility on the IT industry to ensure the responsible development and deployment of AI. The use of AI tools requires careful consideration of ethical and responsible AI practices. It's an opportunity with great potential, but we must balance innovation with responsibility. That's how I would look at it. 


Opportunities of AI adoption

T: Do you think that opportunities are different from the IT vendors’ versus customers’ point of view when speaking of AI/GenAI adoption?

P: It comes down to really understanding what's relevant for an industry in question, what's their problem? Vendors need to tailor solutions to industry-specific problems, while customers should assess how AI can simplify and enhance their operations. Innovation-focused companies adopting AI are already reaping significant benefits, not just in cost savings but also in product and service development. However, in both cases - whether you're a vendor or a client - I think you need to have a cool head and stay focused because you can get lost in this space very fast. 

T: You've mentioned that AI is able to help companies in product development. How can AI be leveraged to create new revenue streams for businesses?

P: If we talk about IT, AI can create new revenue streams by improving existing services, like chatbots, using data-driven intelligence. It all comes down to the data system you're using and the patterns that you are driving and detecting, which you then turn into explainable solutions. Often these are solutions that can help your clients detect, protect, and solve problems using the data that they didn't have available in the past, but you, as an IT vendor, are able to fetch that, and again, in a responsible manner.


Responsibility and other challenges in AI

T: When talking about responsibility, do you mean the security aspect of using AI?

P: Yes. One is IT security, for sure, but the other side is data management. It's vital to ensure data sets are unbiased and used transparently to maintain explainability, which is a critical factor in ethical AI.

T: These technologies present great opportunities, but it all comes with challenges. How can companies address the challenges that come along with AI such as bias, ethics, data quality, and others?

P: It starts with top-level commitment. CEOs, management teams, and boards need to understand the AI landscape and its opportunities. What I have seen in companies that are at the forefront in this space, they have already started appointing Head of AI, Chief AI Officers, and creating AI councils to help navigate this complex terrain. Companies should offer AI training, foster open discussions, and just get going with pilot projects. And of course, bring their employees along, engage them in this journey.


Reimagining the future

T: New technologies also require new approaches to create something better. What should be the process for starting the automation journey within companies?

P: For functional areas like HR, Finance, and IT, there are many fundamental technologies and solutions already available. So why should you reinvent this over and over? Here I would say use off the shelf and spend the resources to innovate somewhere else.

In terms of new product and service development, this really comes down to the heart of the company. What's your business all about? How are you reimagining the customer's journey? What are you creating for the customer? What do you want the customer journey to look like?

It is important to stop and think, is it an incremental journey or is it an opportunity to re-imagine? For product and service development especially, focus on reimagining the customer journey and delighting customers.

T: Once the decision to get going with AI has been taken on the board level, how can companies foster curiosity among their employees and support the employees through this journey?

P: There can be this fear of not knowing what’s going to happen to one’s job. But what I have seen over and over again throughout my career is that once people start working and learning the new technology, they start reimagining the future and they get even more excited. But as an organization, you need to help people get to that stage. As we discussed earlier, experimenting is important. Organizations must facilitate learning through experimentation, innovation labs, and a clear direction. Nurturing talent and involving employees in the AI journey is crucial.


Universal AI Regulation and sneak peek into Digitalize and Automate

T: Obviously, an important step for companies is to learn about different regulations in AI. You worked in many different countries, which differences did you notice in AI-related regulations?

P: The AI regulatory landscape is evolving, especially in Europe. However, I believe a universal regulation, similar to GDPR, would benefit the industry. If I can dream a little bit, wouldn’t it be wonderful if some of the largest countries, I'm talking about the United States, China and then Europe as an EU entity, would come together and agree on one common approach?

We did come together in the past when new technologies were developed. For instance, if you take mobile phone standards and GSM standards. If we would come together now in the AI space, it would help foster industry-wide harmony and progress.

Otherwise, we will develop at a different pace. And then companies will have to learn and adjust and develop in different ways, which can become quite complicated.

T: Especially for companies that are working in the global arena or international arena, that would be very helpful. Let's finish it up with a small preview of your keynote. What are you going to talk about at Digitalize and Automate? What can people expect?

P: I'm really looking forward to attending this event. What I am going to address there is where the industry is and how we see the current developments in IT from both vendors’ and customers’ perspective.

We are kind of in this hype cycle now. And it's very exciting when you're in the hype cycle. But at the same time, you know, you can be disillusioned. You are asking yourself: What's really real? What can I use?

So I will take a view on what we can quickly learn from the past, what we have seen in the past, how we can look at this, how we can work with the situation – whether I am an IT company or a client. I’ll talk about what I have seen companies can do on both sides.

For a more in-depth perspective on the future of AI and its role in reshaping industries, join Päivi Rekonen’s keynote at Digitalize and Automate 2023 event, already tomorrow on September 19th!

 Tatiana Chesniak

Written By -

Tatiana is a Content Marketing Specialist at Efecte. Driven by her passion for marketing, she provides different types of content that reflect Efecte as a European market leader, an innovator in their space, and a bright place to work. Her professional goals include engaging the readers and shaping a strong image of Efecte in people’s minds.

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