Change really is a constant for much of the world today. This year has been characterised by change, both positive and negative, in people’s lives, in international relations and in the financial markets, across the Nordic region and around the world.
By its nature, change is often unpredictable. You make plans, but you can never really predict the future. One of the only things you can be sure of is that change is always coming. Historically, things usually end up better than they were before. The journey can be painful and difficult, but we always have to hope and count on the end result being better for everyone.
On the international level, the world is undergoing dramatic change, with war, the refugee crisis and the terror threat as major factors. These are not likely to be passing phases, but more probably lasting changes that will affect us on many levels. More on those later.
Within arvato Financial Solutions, we have been undergoing a transformation driven not only by rapid changes in the market, but also by our mind set, ambition and goals. We have launched a new aFS strategy process for all our Nordics companies, and communicated this to the entire organisation. It has been a massive, complicated process, but everyone in aFS now knows where we are headed.
Part of our strategy involves our vision of becoming the preferred partner in pay-after delivery solutions. We also want to achieve convenience in every transaction. And we have seen real progress in both areas during 2015.
A perfect example is Pizzapiikki, the true omnichannel payment solution we launched this autumn for Finnish pizza chain Kotipizza. It is real omnichannel solution for a tangible product, which also provides convenience for customers in every channel.
The launch of AfterPay in the Nordics was another highlight. Our Nordic markets all have high internet penetration and a high level of early adopters. By combining our international strength, our local expertise and our spirit of innovation, we were able to bring in a successful solution from another market, combine it with specific features for our Nordic markets and create an attractive service for Nordic customers.
Our flexibility and innovation were also major factors in our success with Telenor, where our solution not only includes standard features, but also incorporates parts of the client into our own organisation, tailoring a seamless end-to-end solution of which we are proud.
Transparency is another hallmark of arvato. Part of our strategy is to add value through transparency, turning our clients’ big data into actionable analysis that they can use to improve their bottom lines. It is part of the reason we see ourselves as partners, not just suppliers.
We also share our own data, providing valuable insights for our clients. The first of our Insights reports, Expanding E-Commerce, gave useful input for companies wanting to expand into their Nordic neighbours and beyond. We will continue sharing our insights into 2016.
All these highlights are tied to the strategy I mentioned earlier: we are creating new products, sharing information and becoming an increasingly valuable partner.
And we all need reliable partners in this world, where everything is getting more complex. Our very structure is designed to provide strength on several different planes. We are a global BPO provider, but have a strong local focus. We are locally driven, but have a global backbone. That’s why I think AfterPay was such a good example: we saw the local demand and market conditions, and could bring in the best possible international solution.
I also want us to be the guide that helps our clients pursue opportunities anywhere in the world, thanks to our ability to combine the local and the global. We enable clients to speak the local language wherever they want to grow. Changes happening around the world affect everyone, locally, regionally and globally. You need the ability to understand the connections, and the agility to adapt to whatever happens. We provide that ability and agility.
Returning to one of the biggest changes in our world today, the refugee crisis and resulting mass migrations are challenging many structures and countries. These shifts are driven partly by international events but also by mobility and the changing ways in which people plan and conduct their lives.
The international nature of our own organisation has led to people moving from the Nordic organization to other countries within arvato and the Bertelsmann group. And colleagues from other regions have moved here, bringing skills and opportunities and experiences with them. This is something we strongly believe in and want to embrace.
It is natural from a personal perspective to pursue opportunities for yourself and as a company we have created an environment where this is possible. This has enriched our company greatly. We see that these flows bring both opportunity and challenges that we have to handle, but they are not something we can – or want to – stop.
Even Christmas is changing. Some traditions fade away, some new ones arrive. But even though it is changing, there will always be a concept that we call Christmas.
We don’t expect change to slow down in 2016. Change is part of the new reality. There will some changes we can predict, and others will take the world by surprise. But we will make sure we have the flexibility and agility to make the most of those changes, and keep our clients ahead of the game. I will look more at what I think we can expect in my first blog of the new year. Until then, I want to wish you all the best for the Christmas season and a happy, healthy and prosperous 2016.
– Jan Altersten
Chief Executive Officer, arvato Financial Solutions Nordics