Developing business-driven ecosystems and enterprise architectures all have a clear objective to make clients’ lives easier and businesses more effective and functional.
Multinational strategic change and technology company Nortal’s Partner and Head of Technology Jarkko Enden explains why digital ecosystems utilising modern CRM and ERP solutions are a hot topic in IT at the moment and how teams at Nortal embrace it.
Hello Jarkko! Tell us a little about yourself.
I have 20 years of experience in different areas of software and IT service development. This includes enterprise architecture, full stack development, concept and business development, agile processes, DevOps, software architectures and quality management processes.
Healthcare is topically my strongest area, since I’ve worked as CTO in a healthcare company. I also have a long background in developing with Microsoft’s tools.
Your role, Head of Technology, covers a wide range of responsibilities. When did you start at Nortal and how does your daily work look like?
My career at Nortal started about 4 years ago, after working in healthcare technology for almost 20 years.
At that point Nortal had worked with healthcare clients mainly in the Baltics, and my role as a Lead Architect was to kick-start this business in Finland. It was quite a big risk, but during these four years we managed to grow this part of our business exponentially, and currently our teams consist of more than 60 experts.
Currently I’m the head of our Technology & Business Solutions unit, developing our internal processes and solution portfolio, as well as overseeing the work of various development teams. I also work as an enterprise architect in large digital ecosystem projects.
The importance of education is a trending discussion in the computer science sector. Do you think studying is worth the effort for an IT expert?
I have studied at Helsinki University and have a master’s degree in computer science.
It is many times said that you really only learn once you go to work. But as a serious IT expert, it helps to have theoretical knowledge to be able to look at the big picture.
At Nortal you talk a lot about ecosystem thinking. What does the notion mean and why is it a hot topic now?
Basically, this idea comes from the fact that the whole world has gone digital. Nortal’s digital ecosystem approach initiates a shift toward viewing IT as an ecosystem, rather than a simple business function.
As technology can change entire industries’ business models and create new business opportunities for innovators, IT must become a strategic partner to management and an enabler of business transformation.
For us at Nortal, we strive for long customer relationships. Our aim is to be the enterprise architects of the digital transformation of our customers. We are very much focused on business benefits and tailoring solutions for each customer.
To put it very simply: IT is not a business unit anymore, but rather an enabler for the entire business ecosystem. It’s quite natural that this is a hot topic in an exponentially digitalizing society.
No arguments there, digitalisation is far-reaching and full of potential. What tools do you use at Nortal to make this happen?
Our aim is to utilize the most modern and robust tools available. Depending on the customer case naturally. We want to make sure that our tools and architecture solutions support modern environments and are also future-proof.
In our customer projects we aim to utilise secure, cloud-native solutions and hybrid cloud architectures. We have deep expertise in all the main cloud environments (Azure, GCP, and AWS).
Nortal values cross-functional teams. How do you implement it in Nortal’s daily life?
Especially in larger projects our teams are built around business processes instead of technologies, and they are composed of cross-functional experts. In one team you might have CRM and ERP experts, and custom software developers, all working towards the same goal.
However, certain dedicated projects might have expert teams focused on a specific system, such as CRM.
At Nortal, we value cross-functional know-how and learning. We have a ‘Friday Techie Show’ for all our developers and IT experts, where people get to present their work and findings to others.
Also, our Finnish IT architects have their own group, which normally gets together quite often to discuss architecture decisions, technologies and current business topics.
Our senior architects also typically contribute their know-how for sales activities.
Give our technologically talented readers some tips. What does it take to become an IT architect?
Generally, a senior IT architect needs to have a good understanding of enterprise architectures, business processes, data solutions, and client communication, to mention a few. Leading architects also need to develop suitable leadership skills, which in today’s working culture have to be based on merits on architectural thinking, and not top-down management.
The role of a solution architect at Nortal is a very strong and responsible one. Architects have an important role in projects, but they also hold the torch of implementing practices around the organization.
Nortal is a strong supporter of constant learning and education. We support our employees in applying for certifications in different areas, such as Microsoft Dynamics and cloud technologies. All Nortal group employees are also entitled to use one workday per month for education.
What’s hot in the talent market and what sort of specialised expertise are you currently looking for?
CRM is a hot topic right now, especially as part of a comprehensive IT architecture renewal program. CRM, customer relationship management, is traditionally viewed as a standalone sales tool. In the modern world it is actually a lot more than that. CRM (or XRM) is an essential part of a modern enterprise ecosystem.
Nortal is currently looking for CRM specialists/architects to take part in these ecosystem projects.
Do examples inspire you? Who is your role model or guru if you can say so?
This is easy! Martin Fowler, who is perhaps the best-known software architecture expert in the world. Among other things, he is considered to be the father of microservice architectures. He introduced innovative solutions already as a young IT guru in the 1990s. He is still a visionary in his own field of designing software.
It’s evident that joy is built into your profession! But how do you take your mind off business?
I have a passion for music, and I tend to joke that I’m another failed rock star. Back in the day our band was close to making it, at least we thought so.
I still play guitar in a few bands. Together with Nortal’s Chief Legal Council we have a group, which you can see as the house band at Nortal’s parties.
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