Jarno Kekäläinen, CEO of Telia Inmics-Nebula, on the company’s one-stop shop approach to offering services such as cloud, automation and connectivit...
Telia Inmics-Nebula is a Finnish technology company formed from the merger of three predecessors, and a subsidiary of telecommunications firm Telia. That background gives it a broad and exciting remit, as CEO Jarno Kekäläinen explains: “We used to have a company called Datainfo, which was very focused on mobile device management and very innovative in terms of its business model. For example providing the devices as a service instead of having companies buy them. That lets them manage their cash flow, and when they return them at the end of the contract they don't have to worry about environmental factors.”
“Then, in 2018 we acquired a company focused on PCs and other devices for the modern workplace. In the current pandemic, we’ve helped companies set up remote working with Microsoft Teams and Office 365, but there’s also the server side, with data centre installation, assembly and so on. Thirdly, we acquired Nebula, which had its own private cloud called Cloud 9, as well as offered public cloud services like AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud.”
In its current form, the company combines and offers a wide breadth of services, allowing customers to rely on it to cater to multiple needs at once. “Now, with these three companies together, it's an exciting offering because you can come to us as a one-stop shop,” says Kekäläinen. “There’s connectivity from Telia, and we have a Helsinki data centre which provides colocation and virtual servers, meaning you can get rid of on-premise services altogether. Our customers have access to all the capabilities that the cloud offers, such as cybersecurity. And then we have web hosting, ecommerce services, devices from mobiles to laptops and we also provide an end-user service desk.” With such a comprehensive offering, Kekäläinen sees the company as offering a full spectrum of service. “Companies can get from us all the tools they need to run their business, and if they run into problems, then they can get support 24/7. It's business as a service.”
One of the most important services offered by Telia Inmics-Nebula is assistance with its customers' cloud journeys. “Virtualisation and getting rid of hardware is one side. But then another element has been providing professional services or consultancy where we actually work together with the customer to find out the problems that they have, and try to figure out what's the best way to solve them using our partners. We mix and match these capabilities into a bespoke solution for our customers and help them along the cloud path. We take our expertise to our customers, to let them know how we can help them not only reduce costs but also provide revenue-driving possibilities. That’s something quite unique to us - we want to understand their capability for innovation and enter into a true partnership with customers.”
One of its offerings is dedicated to bringing a business platform to companies who might otherwise deem it out of reach. “While everybody loves to talk about large scale, multi-million dollar companies, I see the future as really being on the smaller side. If we look at Airbnb, for instance, some years ago, they were tiny but grew from nowhere. Our future is about providing a business platform to smaller companies who can really stand to benefit.” Kekäläinen has plans to further bolster the benefits of the platform. “It's currently about online presence and ecommerce, but it could be fused with advertising, for example, and marketing at a fixed monthly price, but in the near future, it will become this platform where small companies can get the benefits of bringing different partners into their businesses. We’ll be making it simple to order Google search engine optimisation, Facebook advertising, and so on, still at a fixed monthly price.”
The company’s work is facilitated by a number of important partners. On the hardware side, Telia Inmics-Nebula works with the three major players in the Finnish market. “We work with Lenovo, HPE and Dell, and we have a long-term relationship with all of them. I also have to mention one of our partners ALSO, with whom we have had a long term relationship, getting the devices customer-specific preinstalled to wherever our customers are in Europe.
“With Dell, we also work with the majority-owned VMware which provides virtualisation software and services. When it comes to mobiles, we have a long-term relationship with Samsung and Apple, and we also work with them on audiovisual devices.” With the coronavirus pandemic forcing companies to scale remote working capabilities in short time frames, the company’s partnership with F-Secure has proved vital. “They provide really solid products in terms of cybersecurity. And if something does happen, which fortunately is very rare, we also work together in terms of recovery and what can we learn from this situation.” Amazon, too, is an important piece of the puzzle. “We’ve used their computer vision solutions, AWS for running pilots and proof of concepts with our customers and they’ve helped increase our level of expertise through a set of Amazon certification programs for employees.”
The company caters to all sizes of customers, with comprehensive hyperscale capabilities. “As part of the Telia company, which is a tier one operator, we have connections to everywhere in the world. We have sea cables connecting Europe, the Americas and Asia, so we are able to connect you to anywhere in the world.” The benefits and possibilities of such connectivity have the potential, Kekäläinen believes, to fundamentally change the way businesses are run. “We work with hyperscalers and big partners like Amazon and Microsoft, and we create our own services to be operable wherever. It’s really about true globalisation. And I feel that this will disrupt our thinking about how businesses are being run. Is big good? Or is small and nimble even better? Now technology allows us to work from anywhere, across the world, the answer might be collaboration, shared ecosystems, speed and agility rather than centralisation.”
Aside from cloud, Telia Inmics-Nebula is equipped with a bevy of other technological solutions. Kekäläinen had prior experience at Telia with setting up its robotics and AI practices from scratch, experience which he brought over to the company. “We’ve set up a new product that can provide customers robotics from the cloud instead of building your own environment. We’re there to provide support for different companies who are deploying their own robots in a cloud environment.” This kind of automation is also used internally. “We are launching an intelligent automation robot to improve our logistics processes. It’s at an early stage, but we’re also looking at providing such services to external companies with computer vision and those kinds of things.”
Kekäläinen is committed to exploring innovative uses for all kinds of technology, and has duly invested in a 3D printer. “I gave it to our experts to figure something out. Especially with coronavirus, it’s become difficult to get even cheap plastic parts delivered. We thought it would be useful if we could have an ecosystem wherein companies could publish their 3D AutoCAD designs and sell them on our portals. We’re also figuring out a way to utilise recycled plastic, which alongside onshoring manufacturing could play a part in saving the planet.”
Kekäläinen has seen an increase in demand from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “As soon as the coronavirus hit, we had a huge spike in demand. First of all, at the service desk, we were getting 30-40% more calls from people asking for advice on how to set up Microsoft Teams, how to get a VPN up and running and so on. So it’s actually accelerating our business in that way.” The company’s ability to weather the coronavirus storm has seen it able to provide invaluable assistance to its customers as well, through webinars and meetings. “One company gave us a thank you note, saying that we had helped them make a two-year digital leap in less than two hours by getting these remote-working environments up and running.”
Telia Inmics-Nebula’s hardiness in the face of such challenges leaves Kekäläinen assured of the company’s bright future. “Merging three companies with three cultures together was always going to take time, but it's starting to deliver real results. Employee commitment and satisfaction is increasing. People are talking the same language and adopting the same vision. That vision is to devote more time to what matters, whether it's our people, how we digitise work or how we free up customers’ time so that they can reinvest in what matters for their customers.”