With the help of AI (artificial intelligence), it will be easier to use data in order to make wiser decisions.
In December 2019, before pandemics and lockdowns, Jonny Holmström took the stage in Stockholm as one of the speakers at the Mistra Digital Forest programme conference, with about a hundred people in the audience.
– The lecture was about an interview study I did with the large forest companies. The focus was on the forest value chain, from cutting a tree to sitting at home with a finished window frame to look out of, says Jonny Holmström, professor and director of the Swedish Center for Digital Innovation, SCDI.
The study showed the timber product flowed well in the value chain, but that all of the data that came with it was not handled with the same knowledge and interest, despite the fact that it is also an important resource.
– Everything was based on in-depth interview studies, the forest companies themselves having emphasised that a knowledge boost was needed. They have hundreds of years of forestry experience, but they haven’t really succeeded with AI. I stood there and ‘roasted’ the audience a bit with a twinkle in my eye. “The big problem is… you”, I said jokingly. That honesty went down well with the audience who probably recognised themselves, says Jonny Holmström with a laugh.
One member of the audience that night was Carl Kempe, permanent secretary at the Kempe Foundation. He latched on to what was being said and dialogue arose that same evening. After a few conversations, Jonny Holmström applied for funding from the Kempe Foundation and suddenly the lecture had led to the creation of the SCDI AI Business Lab.
The AI lab has created a new horizon. With the help of various tools such as a specially developed platform, it is possible to analyse data quickly and efficiently. One of the projects within Mistra Digital Forest is “Value creation from complex data sets through AI”.
– What is important, and it’s something we can do with the lab, is that we work with data as a key resource and with “algorithmic brokering”. That’s about how to adapt, and adjust the AI system and connect it to the challenges that exist here and now. You should focus on the data you have got, and think about what additional data you may need. It’s simply experimenting with the data, even if it is always ultimately about creating value, says Jonny Holmström.
Above all, the value lies in the creation of better precision forestry, which provides increased productivity and thereby also better sustainability. Tools and technology collect data that is analysed using AI, creating insights that people can then use to make smarter decisions.
– Digital innovation exists and flourishes, but how do you go from innovation to transformation? Here, it is important to increase knowledge, and Mistra Digital Forest’s lectures and presentations are an important key. There are hundreds of years of forestry experience, now we have to connect it together and create an important digital transformation, concludes Jonny Holmström.