16.9. 2011 Ict

Co-operation between customers and experts is a challenge for information system science

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Jukka "Jups" Heikkilä is familiar with the university cities of southern Finland. He started his academic career in the Helsinki University of Economics and Business Administration in the 1980s. After that he found his way to East, West and Central Finland. The University of Tampere, the Lappeenranta University of Technology, the University of Jyväskylä, the Academy of Finland, the University of Turku and then back to Jyväskylä where he spent over a decade. Apparently his achievements in the last-mentioned convinced the people in Turku, as Jukka Heikkilä was selected the new Professor of Work Informatics in the University of Turku from among 17 applicants.

Jyväskylä was a challenging and interesting location for Dr Heikkilä. The professorship of electronic commerce offered an excellent opportunity to advance the IT industry in Jyväskylä to put it to the national top level. Nokia leaving the city was a setback which according to him eventually turned into a positive thing for the region.

"The IT industry got a fresh start with Nokia's leaving. In Jyväskylä, as well as in Oulu, running off of Nokia's operations put the City's back against the wall, to face the question of life and death. They had to act, so there was open discussion and a new direction was found together, without delay", Jukka Heikkilä says.

"Jyväskylä was prepared to face setbacks - while overcoming the recession of the 1990s it was learned that it's no use crying over spilled milk. They have done a lot of work for software industry. The fruits of the long-term work were gathered when the recession hit in 2008-2009."

Direct talk

Dr Heikkilä is outspoken by nature. He has a twinkle in his eye, when he says that he is an unpolitical person who gives negative feedback to everyone. He doesn't hesitate to give it to the people of Turku, too.

"Here in Turku, things are generally better than in Jyväskylä: a diverse business structure and wealth gathered over centuries, a gentle climate and a wonderful archipelago. Hence it seems that people can just float, but they could in fact grab the oars and row a little in the same direction."

Dr Heikkilä has regularly visited Turku for years while teaching as adjunct professor. As Professor of Work Informatics under information system science he will now focus on reforming the development and management of information systems. He says that the 'traditional way' has become an obstacle to creative work.

"We should better see the customers' needs and be able to adjust the experts' work to serve them. Profitable fitting together of services, and new working methods and equipment is the most important current challenge."

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Dr Heikkilä divides his work into three parts. The principal work is to participate in research on work informatics which involves developing a tried and tested model together with other researchers on the basis of careful analysis. The organisation will be responsible for the further development of the activities. Another part of his work is the Chinese contacts of the Finnish-Dutch-Italian academic community's eBusiness training and research network in the form of e.g. researcher and student exchange in e-business and modelling of business and services.

"The third part comprises of social dimensions. In that we aim to apply the models used in Jyväskylä to create a local ecosystem. The goal is to utilise the unity and networked nature of the area. Turku has good prerequisites for that, and we also strive to support the growth of the software entrepreneurship cluster in Southwest Finland through concrete actions. That also requires reciprocal support to our work, though, to make it work - the current financing instruments for research are built like that."

TISRA brings experts together

At present, the partly scattered expertise is being gathered together in Turku. TISRA, or Turku Information Systems Research Alliance, was set up by a co-operation agreement between the Information System Science unit of the Turku School of Economics and the subject of Computer Science in Åbo Akademi University. Jukka Heikkilä is acting as the project leader.

"Through systematic co-operation we seek visibility and weight and, above all, gather scientific expertise. We need more growth companies, so far the growth has been pushed by the municipality. Entrepreneurship and acting are quick and efficient ways to achieve quick effects. As entrepreneurs people can use their creativity just the way they want, unlike in the role of a civil servant. One shouldn't just do things, but do things that matter, which also requires a little disobedience and daring", says the newly appointed professor.

"But one can't be ignorant, that's where we can be of assistance and transfer knowledge to the future generations."

Outside the academic world Jups likes to fly fish, ski, cycle and paint aquarelles. Motorcycling is another dear hobby of his since the age of 16. In this summer season in Southern Finland you may come across a Benelli Tornado which is just as powerful as suggested by its name.


Jukka "Jups" Heikkilä

- Born in Lauritsala on 25 July 1961.
- Doctor of Science in Economics and Business Administration, Helsinki School of Economics and Business Administration 1995.
- Has worked as a lecturer, researcher, adjunct professor, professor and dean in different universities e.g. in Helsinki, Turku, Lappeenranta, Tampere and Jyväskylä.
- Professor of Work Informatics in the Turku School of Economics as of 1 August 2011.
- Family: wife Marikka Heikkilä, Doctor of Science in Economics and Business Administration, Project Manager. Children Ilmo (14), Osmo (12), and Aimo (10).