Social Hackathon: Riding the waves of digitalization with Aalto students

Blog: Kristian Luoma / OP

Finland is a country made of thousands of lakes connected with beautiful rivers. At one point in time, ages ago, these water passages were essential for villages and later cities that emerged to the river banks. Water was the infrastructure for life. It enabled new commerce, new opportunities and jobs. Being connected was essential for wellbeing. 

Now, fast forwarding many years to our days, we’re facing new waters. The digital tsunami has not always been kind to these same villages that were once great during early phases of industrial revolution. Things look grimmer on the outskirts of Finland during these digital times. It can be argued that robotisation has already destroyed many jobs and factories, impacting the quality of life for many.  

How can we keep young people in the smaller Finnish cities?

The future doesn’t however need to be dark. I see today’s digital platforms as the rivers and lakes of 21st century, holding potential for new growth. The digital-era is connecting more people than ever, even more than rivers used to! But how do you make the best of the threat? 

What does it take to change the mindset to see the digital opportunities? And how can we stop young people from escaping the beautiful, yet smaller cities in Finland? How can we make sure that the villages by the rivers and thousands of lakes remain great? 

Nothing will make life “like it was in the good old days”, for sure, but the only way to make progress is to try things out. Test. Explore. 

That is exactly why we in OP Group put our heads together with Aalto and Deloitte. As a result we challenged ourselves and the brightest minds of Aalto to join a Social Hackathon: an innovation event to renew Finland’s endangered cities. This event will be about creating concepts and solutions that can help make the best of the opportunities, ignoring the threats. 

Making the threat an opportunity

Our hope is to research the real needs and pain points in the smaller towns to discover ways to make life run smoother. We seek new business opportunities that may turn the digital tsunami in to a wave that is enjoyable to ride. 

I really think that no threat exists without having the potential of becoming an opportunity.

Digital services can create a more efficient society, provide more variety of services and allow for more connected tribes. Rivers of bits are at least as useful as the rivers were back in the day.  

Helping plans take root in reality

Of course, this Social Hackathon -event is just a first step. That is why we’re further sponsoring the efforts of winning teams with Deloitte, to help take the ideas further than just whiteboard. I’m committed (and to be honest pretty excited) to help these ideas find customers for pilot use later in 2017. 

We believe that it is a cause worth working for. We hope you agree and help us, if you can. 

Stay tuned for the updates about #SocialHackathon that will be held at Aalto University on the 23rd of March 2017.

Kristian Luoma
Head of New Business Development
OP Financial Group

This blog was orignally published at

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