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The USCO project and the K Group: “Data helps create added value for customers”

A USCO project event on openness and data use will be organised on the K campus in October.

Laura Kamtsan and Minna Vakkilainen.

USCO, a joint project of Laurea University of Applied Sciences and the University of Tampere, has been running since 2016. Funded by Business Finland, the project has helped Finnish companies develop their ability to utilise digitalisation and has involved eight organisations.

The K Group is one of the participating enterprises. On 30 October, the K Group and the USCO project will jointly host an event under the name “Openness is a key to success”, which will bring together top experts in digitalisation, innovation and data analytics from both Finland and other countries.

-    “What we are really looking forward to in October is the meeting of different perspectives and ideas,” says Minna Vakkilainen, VP Head of Analytics and Customer Data. Laura Kamtsan, HR Business partner, from the K Group agrees.
-    “We will hear the opinions of world-class speakers as well as the perspectives of all the participants. We eagerly await the opportunity to exchange experiences and ideas with others working with digital service development.”

Services that speak to customers

Minna Vakkilainen and her team are in charge of the K Group’s development work related to customer data, data analytics, data management and AI applications. Close cooperation is carried out with all of the K Group’s lines of business. In her speech in October, Vakkilainen will focus on the use of data to build individual customer experiences in the K Group’s stores.

-    “Data-based customer insight plays a key role in the development of business operations. It helps us understand what customers expect from us,” she explains.
-    “We are fortunate in that we have a great deal of information about our customers. We have issued around 3.5 million Plussa loyal customer cards and achieve 1.5 million daily customer contacts.”

Vakkilainen emphasises that data collection alone is not enough. It needs to be used as fuel to build customer insight. Data can be used to develop services that speak to and benefit customers and help them to, for example, steer their actions in the desired direction.

-    “Last spring, we published a data-based service (“K-Ostokset”) that shows customers their grocery purchases from the K Group’s stores. In the first stage, the service indicated the domestic content of purchases, and now we are working on an indicator that displays the climate impact of grocery purchases,” Vakkilainen continues.
-    “Concerning the use of data, we want to show that we are worthy of the trust that customers place in us. We strive to provide data-based services that offer real added value to customers and, naturally, always ask customers for permission to use their data.”

The new K Campus provides opportunities for new encounters

The USCO project approaches the opportunities offered by digitalisation from four perspectives: organisational leadership and culture, open innovation and agile pilot schemes, well-being at work and customer-orientation.

-    “From our angle, the workshops and innovation camps in Cambridge have been particularly rewarding. Many people from our organisation have participated in them,” says Laura Kamtsan, HR Business Partner, describing the outcome of USCO to the K Group.
-    “We are at the forefront of many trends, but it is nevertheless very important to get further support from the other participating organisations as well as the latest research results from academia.”

The venue for the October event is the new K Campus in Kalasatama, completed this past summer, which is now the workplace of some 1,800 K Group employees. Vakkilainen and Kamtsan are very pleased with the new campus, which in itself represents the kind of new culture emphasised in the USCO project.

-    “The building was designed to offer even better support for collaboration, both within the K Group and with external stakeholders,” Laura Kamtsan summarises.
-    “The large atrium, for example, provides a good setting for events like the one in October, where we can share ideas and innovations with our customers, partners and staff.”

The “Openness is a key to success” event will be organised on the K Campus in Helsinki on Friday, 30 October, at 8.30–11.30. The event will be held in English, and the keynote speeches will be delivered by Wim Wanhaverbeke (University of Surrey) and Mohammed Zaki (University of Cambridge). Read more and sign up.

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