Elisa Patronen is a User Experience Designer at Cybercom with a passion for testing the unknown and expanding her knowledge in every possible – and impossible – area.
How did you become a Maker?
It was probably my constant longing to gain new experiences and to combine solutions that made me a Maker. For me, the fun lies in ﬁnding correlations in patterns and analogies in seemingly different things, and applying these in new situations. When I attended design school, I learnt to fail quickly, try again and, most importantly, to ask the right questions. This is a never-ending pursuit, but it opened me up to an entirely new way of seeing how everything is connected. I think that experience is what truly made me a Maker in practice.
What would your dream project look like?
My dream is to get involved in numerous types of projects. For me, a giant project is not the most rewarding achievement, but rather creating smaller solutions that lead us in the right direction. There are few experiences that fail to give you new insights and perspectives on the future and, in reality, you can ﬁnd synergies in the most surprising combinations.
For example, when I began my design studies many people thought I would probably not be able to draw on my background in statistics in any way. To-day, more and more people have begun to see the value in combining statistical tasks with qualitative client insights. Now that so many things have already been created in the world, innovation is often the art of combining existing pieces of the puzzle in unexpected ways.
Meet Ivar - Cybercom's own Java Champion! Ivar knew in early years he wanted to pursue a technical career path. He also know if you slow down, someone younger and hungrier will take your place.
Ivar, how did you become a Maker?
I think that a Maker is not something you become, it is something you are. Kind of like survival instinct. The tech industry is so dynamic and fast changing, so you need to stay on top of things in order to avoid becoming obsolete. The moment you slow down, someone younger and hungrier will come along.
I chose pretty early that I wanted to pursue a technical career path and have always been conscious about setting goals that all the time require me to stretch a little further. I think that is essential to not only becoming a maker, but staying there.
You're a Java Champion! What is that like?
Becoming a Java Champion is a recognition of a lot of work and efforts made in the Java Community. The Java Champions are an exclusive group of passionate Java technology and community leaders who are community-nominated and selected under a project facilitated by Oracle. We participate in several activities and discussions with the Oracle Java Development and Developer Program teams and get the opportunity to provide feedback, ideas and direction to help grow the Java Platform. And, of course, we get a super-cool jacket with the Java Champions logo so we are easily recognizable.
You're a frequent speaker at international conferences. What motivates you?
There are several aspects to that. For me personally it is a great way of building competence. Presenting at tech conferences requires a deep knowledge about the subject and teaching a technology is one of the best way of learning it. It also gives access to the rest of the conference with possibilities to network with technology leaders in the industry.
Being a speaker is a great opportunity to building the Cybercom brand in developer communities in a credible way. This helps strengthen Cybercom both as a potential employer as well as a competent company for potential clients to a significantly lower cost than other alternatives.
What is a maker to you?
A maker is someone doing the little extra. Pushing it a little further. Reading the extra book. Tweeting the extra tweet. Writing the extra unit test. A maker is someone who cares about that extra little detail that makes the whole difference.
Meet Sandra - account manager at Cybercom. Sandra is an early adopter of all things technology and works every day to transform our customers digitally.
Sandra, how did you become a Maker?
I am your typical early adopter of technology and I bring a very important perspective to technology development – the one of the user. Working with project management and requirements gathering my background as avid user of technology becomes very useful. I can take the perspective of end-users and see things through their eyes rather than only looking from the inside out.
You are working with a large chain of gas stations to make them more digital. How is that like?
You’d be surprised but a lot of innovation in this industry is actually digital. Today, gas stations play a different role in customers’ life than before – we wash our cars there, we buy snacks and we stop to get some rest on long journeys. Therefore, it is crucial to drive brand loyalty and get people into the store as they stop for gas. Digital plays a big role in making this happen.
Are there any projects at that you are extra proud of?
There is one solution that we developed that I think was really cool. Our task was to build a digital tool to increase customer loyalty for customers who also are credit card holders. We built a tool that automatically tracks how eco-friendly the driver drives. The better score the driver gets, the cheaper the gasoline they buy would be. A real win-win-win situation – good for the environment, good for the driver and good for our customer since brand loyalty would increase.
Being Makers of tomorrow, what value does our customers get from that?
I think it is important to remember that everyone at Cybercom are Makers. I am not a technology expert or a coder, I run projects and make sure that developers build the right things. Still I am a Maker. When we bring the right people together, our customers can expect nothing short of remarkable results.
Meet Tarmo - one of Cybercom’s Makers of tomorrow. As a child, he tried to build his own laser and still love to experiment in hackathons building IoT solutions.
So Tarmo, have you always been a Maker?
I think a lot of people would call me a geek actually. I got my first computer when I was five years old and tried to program simple mathematic training apps with my father. As I grew up, the interest for all things tech just grew and I even built a chemistry lab in my basement where we tried to create anything from argon lasers to hydrogen powered moped engines. I brought this kind of curiosity into my professional life and especially now in my role as Head of IoT/Industrial competence area in Finland.
You have created something cool called Machinebook, what is that?
We were tasked to come up with a solution for communicating with connected machines on a factory floor. Our idea was simple - imagine that you connect all machines and people in the factory and make them all “friends” in a social media interface like Facebook. Everyone can now interact and communicate using the familiar feed interface. A machine could for example say that a specific component soon needs to be replaced and a manager could quickly respond and dispatch an order to the purchasing department, minimizing factory downtime.
What are the most important learnings from this project?
One really important thing was how we put the team together. One of us was the business guy, one was an expert of UX and one had the deep technology competence on how to interface with machines. Together we were able to quickly build this solution since we had all the competences necessary in one, small knit team.
For you, what is a Maker of tomorrow?
For me a Maker is someone who really tries to innovate on behalf of the clients instead of only building exactly what is specified in an RFP. It is about challenging the customer and push solutions forward all the time. I try to do this every day together with the colleagues in my team.
Ok Tarmo, so what is your dream project?
Actually, when I dream about what we could do in the future, I do not necessarily think of massive, big shot projects. I rather think about small, really clever solutions that could make a big impact on society, on people, or on the environment. Because that’s what matters in the end – the impact that we create.
Meet Gabriel – a senior consultant and agile project manager who hacked his bike light for more power as a kid and recently built a connected bird feeder for Universeum.
Gabriel, when did you know that you were a Maker?
As a kid I started experimenting with Printed Circuit Boards. I had grown tired of all standard, weak LED-lights for my bike, so I bought some industrial strength LEDs, built a circuit board and put everything into a casing to fit it on my bike. It became so strong that people stopped me on the streets asking me if I had a laser on my bike!
Is that an experience that you bring into Cybercom and the projects you do here?
Yes, very much so. It is all about curiosity and to explore the boundaries of what can be done. This is exactly what we do when we solve problems here at Cybercom.
Do you have any example of such a project, where you and your team have used these Maker qualities?
I think the project that we did for Universeum, called Hungry birds, really embodies what it means to be a Maker. Their most popular attraction is a rain forest where a flock of rare and endangered birds live. They gave us a clear task – how can we use technology to keep track of the well-being and status of these birds?
We equipped each bird with an RFID tag and all feeding stations with a sensor so that Universeum could keep track of them every time they enjoy their seeds and also present digitized information about the flock to visitors to enhance their experience.
What do you think companies can learn from a project like Hungry Birds?
We have been working with Universeum for a long time, gaining their trust by delivering multiple great projects. So, if you really want to develop big bold ideas and then build them, you need to work with a partner that you really can trust. Trust that they understand your business and that they can deliver the technology needed to transform it.
Meet Irfan – a product developer who was one of the first to have a computer in Pakistan back in the 90ies and who today builds the next generation of telecom networks.
How did you become a Maker?
I have always been inspired by inventions and creative ideas in my surrounding. Thanks to my dad, I had access to computers from a very young age which was not very common at that time in Pakistan. In university I realized that innovation is about “fixing some sort of a problem”, rather than just building fancy technology. When I found Cybercom I felt immediately at home because this is truly a place that embraces that kind of innovation.
Could you describe a project where the Maker spirit really came through?
One of our long term customers challenged our team of agile developers to come up with ideas on how to improve the innovation process. In short, instead of just coming up with great product innovation ideas, we sat down to develop a Way of Working to capture as many great ideas as possible. We built it on the Agile development methodology where ideas are captured and then pushed through a funnel to finally be implemented. A true Maker initiative that was highly appreciated by the customer.
What are the most important things you learned in how you build innovative teams?
One key insight is that with the right model for innovation more people get involved in the process and hence the results get better. Almost everyone can contribute to innovation but without the right context, shy or introverts might not even dare to speak up and this is a shame because it is not always the loud ones that have the best ideas!
Is this something that all customers can benefit from?
Yes, it certainly is. The innovation model we developed has been taken up by the Cybercom organization and is a tool that can be implemented with any customer to improve their innovation process.
Finally, what is a maker to you?
For me the formula of being a Maker is simple: Inspiration + Perspective + Conducive environment + Doer attitude = A Maker
Meet Tero – a software architect with a soft spot for machine learning, IoT and complicated math problems who spent his childhood summers coding on paper on his grandparents’ farm.
How did you become a Maker?
As for many of my colleagues everything started when I got my first computer, a Commodore 64, when I was 6 years old. I started programming with it very soon and during the summer holidays in my grandparents' farm, I was using a paper notebook and pencil to program things and to design sprites in hexadecimals. When we got back home to my computer, I could test if it worked or not.
But this was just the starting point?
Yeah, one could certainly say that! I got early into artificial intelligence and in high school I coded an AI that I could teach to play the very simple computer game Pong. When I got into Tampere University of Technology, I joined the Roboteam club where we took part in Eurobot competitions every year. We made complete mobile robots from zero, from cutting the aluminium with lasers to coding the AI and machine vision. For fun, we made a bartender robot from an ABB industrial robot. Our laboratory was always full of both good spirit and good spirits!
What are the most important things you learned working as a Maker?
Software is not a skill, it is an art. Getting people excited and invested in a project is more important than a set of skills. Management layers of an organization must make a lot of effort in actively enabling people to make things happen. A decision or a process document is nothing if things don't happen.
Visions are important, we are constantly writing the future as we go. Software field and machine learning will be in a focal point for business transformation in the near future. Cybercom is at a perfect place right now with so many brilliant technologists and business experts in the same company and we will take this opportunity.
Meet Peter – a management consultant that builds connected businesses, grow markets and defines the future of the circular economy.
Hi Peter! Describe your job as a Maker at Cybercom?
As a management consultant I advise customers when it comes to connecting products and businesses in the world of Internet of Things. I lead workshops with management teams, develop business models and strategies and also take a big role in implementing them for our customers.
You have a solid experience in the tech industry. What is your path to becoming a Maker?
I have always had an interest in tech and a desire to understand how things around me are linked together. When I graduated with an engineering degree from university I first got a bit disappointed realizing that many companies make high quality solutions without actually solving any customer problem. That frustration is what brought me here to Cybercom, because here we do things differently.
Can you tell us about a project where you, together with your team, worked as Makers and really made a difference for your client?
Of course. We have been working with a client that builds sewing machines and helped them transform their technology as well as their business. To grow their revenues on a stagnant market, we had to find new kinds of customers and we found them in addressing the digital natives. By connecting the sewing machines, the company can better support the creative journey of dedicated DIY persons even though they do not have all the skills needed to make high quality garments.
Being a maker of tomorrow – How do you want to use digitalization to make a positive impact on society?
In our current consumeristic world, a lot of strategies are built on replacement. You buy something, after a while it becomes obsolete or breaks and you replace it with a new one. With the new digital possibilities of sharing this will change completely. Instead of owning things you can rent things, like Uber or AirBnB, and share resources with other people. A circular market pushes companies to be responsible for their products throughout the entire lifecycle and take care of them in a way that benefits everyone in the end. At Cybercom this is something that we try to address in all our projects.