When digital innovation becomes reality

Going from innovation to actual transformation is a challenge in all companies and industries – and the forest is no exception. Together with his colleagues at the Swedish Center for Digital Innovation (SCDI), Daniel Nylén takes a closer look at this, in a joint case study with Södra Skog.

Part of Mistra Digital Forest researches into digital service innovation. This means examining how different digital services can help simplify decision-making and planning, for example. In this way, the forest can be better used with the value increasing throughout the chain, from growing forest to finished product.

The cornerstone of SCDI’s approach is to identify an existing problem to which it is relevant to find a solution. The researchers collaborate interactively with the industry to investigate and develop techniques and arguments. For example, the work can result in a digital platform that makes it easier for forest owners, or a computer system that helps harvesters in their daily lives.

Daniel Nylén

Daniel Nylén, SCDI. Photo: Johan Olsson.

– This is a way of working where we find benefits for the partner organisation in contributing its time, and relevance for them. But it is also an approach that allows our research to have some leeway and to become more relevant, says Daniel Nylén who is an Associate Professor and project manager at SCDI.

Daniel Nylén and his colleagues at SCDI at Umeå University have worked in close collaboration with Södra’s office in Växjö, precisely to try to discover the challenges that might also work as research questions, in accordance with the idea mentioned above. They settled on digital transformation, and on a case study that is currently being carried out.

Kristin Lindell

Kristin Lindell, Södra.

– We chose to do a case study linked to our digital transformation, specifically the work with the development of the digital services we offer our forest owners, says Kristin Lindell, Head of Business Development at Södra Skog. We are in a phase where there is a lot happening, and we want to develop what we offer constantly, to increase the value of membership.

For her, and for Södra, the collaboration with SCDI within the framework of Mistra Digital Forest provides the opportunity to get an objective, impartial view of their organisation. They also get an insight into the digital transformation that is taking place, both internally and within the industry and in society.

– It is important to understand what our success factors are, and what we do well, but also what we can learn and where the areas for improvement are, Kristin Lindell continues.

In this study, the aim is to produce a nuanced picture of where we stand, right now. Why do forest owners behave in a certain way, based on the digital aids they are offered? What might possibly be missing, and if it is, why is it? To get a general but broad picture, 20 in-depth interviews are conducted with people at different levels in the organisation. The interviews are then analysed and a final report presenting the work will be produced.

– By doing a qualitative case study, we can generate more generalisable knowledge that can be analysed and then applied to large parts of our forestry. It’s an important step in seeing what gaps there are, and how we can bridge them, says Daniel Nylén.

Read more about the Work Package Program-wide Activities.