Koskisen Group15.04.2014

Family entrepreneurship and megatrends

Eva Wathén

Eva Wathén

I recently gave a lecture on family entrepreneurship at the Hanken Swedish School of Economics. At the end of my presentation, I made reference to two trends that I believe in and which both drive Koskisen Group’s business: – The renaissance of wood, and trends that support new ways of using wood – Family entrepreneurship as a form of business

I also recently came across the ‘2013-2014 Trend List’ compiled by Sitra – the Finnish Innovation Fund. The extensive list contains a wealth of information. In terms of safeguarding the competitiveness of family enterprises in Finland, I believe certain trends stand out above the rest.

Data as a source of power and wealth:
Finland is a mecca for game developers. I believe that Finnish family companies have tremendous opportunities to develop their data management and analytics. When it comes to the competition, data and information are a source of power. Do we have enough information and do we transfer it in a sensible way? Do we make sufficient use of smart technology? Should the export sector and games industry work in closer co-operation?

Super seniors:
Age will increasingly become just a number. Chronological age is transforming into ‘ability age’. People are living longer and the forms of treatment are advancing. Super seniors need and are seeking new kinds of services and solutions. They are a growing consumer group worldwide. There are family entrepreneurs in Finland, too, who genuinely understand this. Take the Finnish company Lappset, for example: The company has developed sport parks for seniors in Spain, making use of smart technology and making exercise fun, interactive and playful.

The major demographic shift taking place in Japan’s age structure has, for years, forced the nation to look at seniors in a different light. Our combination of Finnish engineering expertise and medical advancements holds a promise of new entrepreneurial success stories – whether family enterprises or not. At least the number of nursing homes has been steadily rising.

The radical change in Western work and a focus on social and psychological needs:
A shift in professional titles is currently underway. The economy is undergoing digitalisation and production is being robotised. More and more often, work and its content must be reinvented. The accelerating rate of development is putting new strains on our mental balance. Currently, one in five Finns is diagnosed with a mental illness. The costs of ill-being at work and depression are draining EUR 25 billion from Finland’s national budget. A company is only as healthy as its staff. One would expect family enterprises to hold good opportunities for finding creative and innovative solutions to improve well-being at work, especially since their operations are built for the long term and take a personal approach.

A shared global fate and Europe’s inability to regenerate:
The world is shrinking at a fast rate, and Europe has been the local market for Finnish export companies for a long time now. Sitra’s report claims that the European crisis is connected to people’s sense of security, which has been built on a false premise of permanence. Global success requires global operations and the courage to undergo renewal. On the other hand, shared fate also refers to an increase in sudden events and shocks with immediate impacts even for those on the other side of the planet. Many Finnish family enterprises are increasingly setting their sights on countries outside of Europe. The extent to which Finnish companies are able to regenerate is not so clear to me. Rapid changes require a high level of agility, and that only comes with practice.

The audience contained around 30 students, one third of whom were from Finland. The others were from all parts of the globe. The world has definitely changed during my lifetime. And that’s a good thing.


P.S. If you’re wondering about my new surname: As a rite of passage on my way to becoming a ‘super senior’ myself, I wanted to satisfy my own psychological needs and desire for change, so I fulfilled an old dream to take my mother’s maiden name – after all, half of my genes come from her. Nothing else has changed as a result – not even my wrinkles :-)