It was weather prediction that first led Per Nyberg, chief commercial officer at Stradigi AI, to see the value of technology.
“It was 30 years ago, and it was exactly the first thing that I worked on,” says Per. “What it represented to me was the ability to create models of the world. To use data or simulation to understand an outcome that you couldn’t otherwise do. You can’t just recreate the world in a lab – you have to model it and simulate it.
“After that my interest just grew.”
Canada-based Per began his career as a programmer analyst for Environment and Climate Change Canada. He’s spent most of his career in the development of market strategy, go to market execution, but always with leading-edge technologies like supercomputing and AI.
“I consider myself very fortunate in that I’ve been able to work with market leaders around the world and in different areas in enterprise, research and government; across industries including manufacturing, energy, life sciences and financial services,” says Per.
He worked for multinational IT company NEC in the United States and in Australia for around 10 years, and then spent 16 years with supercomputer manufacturer Cray Inc.
In mid-2019, he moved to Stradigi AI, an artificial intelligence innovation company that accelerates AI insights for business users.
“Now, I’m responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of our commercial strategies and operations to drive the company’s growth,” says Per.
Throughout his career, his passion has always been technology.
“There are a couple of areas that have inspired me,” he says. “First, the role of technology in helping to understand the world around us – that’s everything from weather modelling to computational biology to algorithmic back testing and consumer behaviour."
“And then, seeing smart, passionate teams leverage that technology and push it further again. It’s a kind of symbiotic relationship between the two. In a lot of things I’ve seen, that’s been really very stimulating.”
Per believes technology can help businesses make better decisions and ultimately be more successful, which is what he now communicates to clients who work with Stradigi AI.
“There’s a predictive nature of machine learning – and that’s of excitement to any area of business. In the finance space, it’s that predictive tool, but you can also use machine learning to quantify uncertainty,” Per explains.
“Especially when you look at that intersection between finance and the running of a business. That ability to understand the drivers behind the numbers – for example, if you’re seeing higher-than-expected inventories. The ability to connect that financial characteristic or outcome with the ability to look at things like demand production models for supply chain – that’s fascinating.”
Technology can also help when facing adversity, which Per says has been highlighted over the past few months.
“Ultimately, machine learning provides companies with the ability to build resilience within fast-changing economic conditions."
“The biggest opportunity is that people can use their data – that they’ve typically spent lots of time and money collecting – to make decisions on a daily basis.”
However, creating a data-driven culture within an organisation can be a challenge. There is still an education process to be done about what AI can and cannot do.
“When we’ve seen the use of AI not go so well is when companies have an ill-defined, lofty goal to deploy AI across the organisation, and do many things."
“It’s important to be realistic and take things one step at a time: develop a clear understanding of the questions you want to answer, and identify what key performance indicators or return on investment points you’ll use to measure your success. Start small, with well-defined goals, and then measure, measure, measure as you move on,” he adds.
He believes the use of technology in decision-making has become the only way forward.
“With the volume, complexity and speed of data creation, you have no choice. Machine learning is a key technology that can help people make sense out of the data,” he says.
The good news for businesses is that the barriers that previously existed to access this technology are reducing.
A survey by McKinsey in 2020, which looked at AI across the globe, found that 50% of respondents said their companies had adopted AI in at least one function or business unit.
“Some of these technologies used to be out of reach for most companies. But now, small and mid-sized companies often almost describe themselves as being born digital – regardless of the industry they’re in,” says Per.
“This has allowed them to compete and optimise their business in ways that weren’t accessible before. That’s really one of the most exciting things.”
Chris is the founder and MD of GenerationCFO.com and creator of the Digital Finance Function Model and a contributor to many articles on our platform. Chris focuses on the shift toward digital transformation in accounting and finance, shows you what good looks like, then helps to get you there!
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