In this Liferay Symposium North America interview series, we put a spotlight on our event sponsors and the ways in which they are driving digital transformation today. These interviews help put a face to the modern innovations happening at the companies in focus and give a glimpse into their latest innovations.
In addition to being President, Mika Kuikka is one of the co-founders of Valamis (formerly Arcusys), a corporate eLearning platform that measures and analyzes the effectiveness of the learning process to aid businesses in employee training. Mika is an online learning enthusiast and is responsible for Valamis’ operations in North America, operating out of Boston, Massachusetts. Mika has helped organizations of all sizes in their digital transformation by translating customers’ voices to the product development team of Valamis - Learning Experience Platform.
Liferay: What is your current position at Valamis? Can you share a brief overview of what it is you do in your work with the company?
Mika Kuikka: I am the President at Valamis Inc. and the Co-founder of Valamis. I am an Ameri-Finn that left my home in Finland to establish a new home and presence for Valamis in North America. I’m responsible for running our North American operations and making sure that we continue to help organizations of all sizes in their digital transformation of learning.
L: What would you say most motivates you and what do you wish to accomplish through your position?
MK: Achieving goals that others think are impossible. Looking back to where we started, in 2003 - four young start-up entrepreneurs in a small office in Eastern Finland - to now - 200 employees, eight offices in five countries globally, and a view to downtown Boston opening from our office windows.
I want to drive our North American business unit to a prosperous growth with the help of our great sales and marketing team in Boston. To state the next epic goal in my life, I want to see Valamis grow to be the best learning experience platform in the world.
L: This year at LSNA, we are focused on the next step of digital innovation. Digital transformation and the continuing advent of new technology is changing businesses around the world. What do you think companies need to do in order to successfully innovate in their technological strategy?
MK: I think that companies need to focus on three things to successfully innovate:
- Align their technological strategy with their business KPIs. What are the business outcomes you want and expect to achieve from implementing new technology? Do the expected benefits outweigh the time and costs?
- Implement a corporate learning strategy to upskill employees to different roles.
- Don’t chase emerging technology as a competitive advantage, proactively seek it out. It is important that your company is not just reacting to new technology, but proactively looking for ways and solutions that fix issues within your business.
L: As IT and business strategies continue to evolve, how do you predict everyday business will change in the coming years?
MK: In general, the adoption of artificial intelligence and intelligent automation will change the way we do business forever. IT and business strategies need to be aligned with the new business landscape. A significant amount of jobs will be lost to intelligent automation but, at the same time, new positions that previously didn’t exist will be created. This leads to large skill gaps. For this reason, adapting business strategies and learning strategies aligned with business goals will be very important in ensuring that the workforce is trained and reskilled to fill the gaps.
Flexible technology that provides great digital learning experiences and digital customer experiences both inside and outside organizational borders, in addition to measuring and understanding the effect of training programs and digital experiences, will be a key factor for business success.
L: Along with changing businesses, today’s customers have new standards regarding their online experiences with companies. How do you see organizations needing to change and adapt to new customer demands in order to stay successful?
MK: The review economy has put product development in the hands of the consumer and the businesses that use these products and services. To stay successful, it is a necessity to put the user first and meet customer demands. As such, customer insight should be central in determining business strategy.
Today, customers are expecting a grade A user experience everywhere. Time is scarce and customers don’t want to be spending most of the little time they have for themselves trying to understand where to find the information they are looking for. The importance of UX and service design is growing constantly. People have an expected level of user experience in consumer-facing services, and if you don’t deliver up to par, you will increase the churn, disappoint and frustrate your customers and users, hindering your business.
L: What is your favorite thing about Liferay Symposium North America? What should a first-time attendee make sure not to miss?
MK: My favorite part about all these years we’ve spent at symposiums is that it’s like having a family reunion. Meeting all the Liferay people, partners and customer both old and new in a setting that is inspiring and not too tightly scheduled.
Over the years, we have met several future clients at symposiums. A first-time attendee should definitely visit our Valamis booth and have a chat with our team, take time to see the presentation by travel technology mogul, Amadeus, go see the keynotes and, most importantly, discuss your project or business with other guests over coffee or lunch in order to get new ideas to take home with you. And don’t forget about the music scene in New Orleans after the official program is done.
L: Besides being a platinum sponsor at LSNA, what else are you up to? What might our readers be interested in that is happening at Valamis?
MK: We’re reaching the next level of future enterprise learning by leveraging artificial intelligence and intelligent automation in order to offer personalized learning experiences and intelligent prescriptive recommendations to learners to support the learning and development of both organizations and individuals. We’re building on learning analytics to help our customers align business and learning strategies, as well as define the metrics of success in L&D.
We also will be doing demos at our booth during LSNA 2018, so come by and check it out!