In this week’s Helsinki Times David J Cord draws comparisons between Nokia and its parent country Finland.
‘FINLAND benefited greatly during Nokia’s time of success. We gained tax income, jobs, know-how, and a great international reputation. Yet we can also learn from the company’s decline. It’s problems, and how to fix them, could be viewed as a microcosm for the country as a whole.
WE KNOW that Nokia did not neglect the future during their period of success. The mobile phone firm invested heavily in its future: in the early 2000s, for example, Nokia spent more in research and development than Google and Apple combined.
A COUPLE of years ago, Nokia used to brag how much more it spent on R&D than its rivals. This sounds eerily familiar to the way Finland likes to boast about its education system. Every time some obscure think tank no one has ever heard of ranks us at the top in global education it makes front page news across the country. Investing in the future is one thing, but applying those investments productively is another.
IN MAY a survey found that 7% of manufacturers, 15% of service providers and 39% of construction firms were experiencing a labour shortage. That same month youth unemployment was at 31%. Something is dreadfully wrong if our vaunted education system is churning out graduates that employers don’t want or can’t hire. Our investments in the future are not working, just like what happened with Nokia. Are we not giving our youth the needed skills? Or is our labour system too mired in bureaucracy and collective bargaining agreements to work effectively? Probably a bit of both.
ANOTHER thing we can learn from Nokia is to fix the problem as soon as it is identified. Early in 2009 I went to Nokia’s Capital Markets Day. By this time it had become apparent they were in trouble. Then-CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo told the room of assembled investors how everything was just fine, and the investors duly sent the message back to their offices on their Blackberries. It was very disturbing to watch, and I luckily declined to buy any Nokia shares.’