- Estonians no longer want to do robot work
- There is a major problem with e-Estonia that needs to be solved
Author: Aivar Pau.
In a bold step, Estonian IT entrepreneurs Andres Aavik and Juhan-Madis Pukk have bought out the Estonian subsidiary of the Swedish publicly traded company Knowit – the newly acquired business aims to liberate people from “mindless” work and unnecessary activities.
Starting from tomorrow, the Estonian software quality and work process automation enterprise will be known as Flowit. The buyers of the company are the company’s current management team. The transaction was carried out in January, and by agreement between the parties, the price will not be disclosed.
The company has thus broken away from the influential Swedish group of undertakings, which has over 2,000 employees, operates branches in Germany, Denmark, Norway and Finland, and is composed of close to 65 companies. The Swedish parent company has a long history, having been established in 1990, while Knowit Estonia was set up in 2007.
According to Andres Aavik, the Estonian unit had already been running as a kind of separate “black box” for the past few years, offering services solely on the Estonian market.
“The most important parts of our activities have historically been software quality and everything related to that: testing, code auditing, project planning and acceptance, and a wide selection of IT consulting services. We check whether created software actually meets business requirements – that it does what it needs to do and does not do what it shouldn’t do,” Aavik told Postimees.
The company has worked extensively with various state agencies, but also with large enterprises, such as NadaqOMX Tallinn, Elering, Telia Eesti, Tele2 and Luminor. They see their future, however, primarily in process automation.
Estonians no longer want to do robot work
“We consider all strictly rule-based work with computers – such as data processing and analysis – ‘mindless work’, and our aim is to liberate people from it,” said Aavik. “We want to enable people to focus on more creative and value-adding activities.”
As an example, Aavik cited Estonian industrial enterprises, where the linking of background data as well as office work are often highly inefficient, despite massive investments in smart devices. For example, in many businesses a huge number of orders are still processed by humans, while this could easily be handled by software robots equipped with text recognition systems that can communicate with the necessary information systems autonomously.
“The problem is actually bigger than that: manual data entry workers are getting harder and harder to find. People are looking for other kinds of jobs, they want to do creative work. We do away with the need for entering things into Excel day in and day out – we do away with the need for a so-called “guy interface” in systems by replacing it with a thin layer of software,” Aavik added.
The one area where the IT specialist believes robots could never take over from humans is in idea creation and forwarding and a personal approach.
There is a major problem with e-Estonia
What does Aavik think of the current state of Estonia’s state IT systems? “There is a major problem there: we were quick to take our processes from paper to a digital format, but we forgot something along the way: the old processes themselves were never updated,” remarked Aavik.
What that means is that digitisation was applied to old, cumbersome processes without reviewing those processes at all. The result: lots of trees were saved from being turned into paper, but the processes are still just as cumbersome. “You can hear and read about it more and more every day – if the only goal of a job is to press ‘next’, then does it really need to be done by a person?” asked Aavik.
According to Aavik, his company wants to help the state carefully consider whether its many processes are actually needed and justified and, if not, get rid of them.
Flowit currently has 16 employees.