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The Swedish forest industry is increasing its pace of digitalization – but many companies lack a clear strategy

01 March 2017

The role of IT for companies within the forestry industry is becoming more and more innovative, which showed in increased investments in IT during 2016. At the same time, only four out of ten companies have a formulated strategy for digitalization, and only every fifth company has set up a dedicated unit specifically for digital innovation. This is indicated by Tieto's IT-barometer, which has surveyed the Swedish forest industry's attitude towards digitalization.

Today Tieto's annual report "The forest industry's IT barometer" is presented. The report shows that the investment in digitalization and IT continues in the Swedish forest industry. But still, only four of ten (41 %) companies have formulated a digital strategy.

The forest industry has great confidence in the commercial benefit with the opportunities that digitalization offers. In particular, it is the access to real-time data for the planning of logistics, production and database based decision-making support that is highlighted. Nine of ten (91 %) see great opportunities in these areas.

"Having a better picture of the current situation and being able to control operations with data in real-time is regarded as being the next potential breakthrough in the forest industry. Today there is already lots of information in the value chain, but it needs to be made accessible in a smarter way in order to provide efficient decision-making support. The report shows the need for developing a clear IT-strategy which can make the most of the opportunities of digitalization", says Mikael Zachrisson, Senior Business Consultant at Tieto.

The IT investment in recent years is considered to have greatly contributed to increased profitability according to half of the respondents, but the difference between the sub industries is big. Out of representatives for companies relying on forestry and sawmills, two of three (65 %) replied that the contribution has been great, while the corresponding proportion for companies dealing in pulp, paper and biofuels is lower, one of five (19 %).

Three quarters (77 %) of the Swedish forest industries decision-makers state efficiency and productivity as the primary focus of IT-activities. The CEOs who were asked are very unanimous and make this choice to 95 %. This is where they differ from their Finnish colleagues, where a majority (60 %) elevate business development and innovation as the primary focus for the IT-activity.

More from the report:

  • Use of cloud services increasing. In 2015, the use of cloud services amounted to a modest 13 percent, during 2016 the corresponding share was 31 percent. The forecast for the future points to a continued substantial increase.

  • Strong trend towards mobility continues. Four of ten (40 %) states that the company's IT-system to a large extent also works in mobile units, a proportion which is expected to increase during the coming year.

  • Standard systems come before proprietary systems by a narrow margin. In the more commercially-oriented processes, use of standard systems as an alternative to proprietary systems represents 54 percent of the IT-support. At the same time, half of the respondents (51 %) report an increased interest in standard systems.

  • Smaller companies have a more positive attitude to IT-cooperation with other companies. There is also a clearly positive attitude to cooperation with our companies with regard to IT-development, especially among smaller companies. Almost half (45 %) of respondents say that they have extensive cooperation, and three quarters (73 %) want it to increase further.

  • Many companies do not have a unit for digital innovation. Only 19 percent of companies have formed a dedicated unit specifically for digital innovation.

About the Forestry industry's IT barometer 2017

The forestry industry’s IT barometer is an annually recurring report regarding developments and trends within operations and IT for the Swedish forestry industry. The report is aimed at decision-makers and key figures within all of the Swedish forest industry and is carried out by Tieto. 116 decision-makers from 62 companies and organisations are represented in the replies.

For further information, please contact:
Mikael Zachrisson, Senior Business Consultant Tieto
+46 (0)70 608 5141,

Tieto aims to capture the significant opportunities of the data-driven world and turn them into lifelong value for people, business and society. We aim to be customers’ first choice for business renewal, by combining our software and services capabilities with a strong drive for co-innovation and ecosystems.

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