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Metsä Group's Metsäverkko digitalises timber trading

"Digitalisation is proceeding at a pace and we aim to be at the spearhead of development. Metsäverkko is a trailblazing electronic service for timber trading and forestry services," Juha Jumppanen.

The background to the development of the Metsäverkko service is Metsä Group's owner strategy, which aims for the company to provide forest owners with the best possible tools for evaluating their forest assets.

The service enables users to complete timber transactions using their online banking details.

"Online stores are a part of everyday life for consumers but, in terms of selling assets, this is a new thing. The service handles large volumes of assets that are physically located elsewhere," says Juha Jumppanen, Metsä Group's Director of Member Services. 

By the end of July, the service had been used to conclude approximately 50 transactions and hundreds of offers have been registered. Jumppanen believes that a significant volume of timber trading will be completed using digital signatures in the future.

"The ramp-up of the service has been positive and messages from forest owners have been highly encouraging. Autumn is traditionally a busy time for timber trading. We believe that the number of transactions will soon reach the hundreds," Jumppanen says.

Making forest management more accessible

Metsä Group wanted to make asset management accessible regardless of time or place, to make forest management easier. The idea was to develop a service that enabled users to handle forestry-related matters from their sofas.

"30 percent of forests have currently gone unmanaged for 30 years. If this service makes forest management easier – it will be a great thing. This would enable forest owners to realise additional income worth tens of millions of Euros," Jumppanen says.

Metsä Group believes that a significant volume of timber trading will be completed electronically in the future and that users are becoming considerably more willing to use online services.

"We carried out a study in 2012 and one quarter of the respondents were willing to sell timber online. Almost half of all respondents aged under 55 were willing to sell online," Jumppanen says.

Multi-vendor project reliably completed

Metsäverkko was a multi-vendor project that was planned in collaboration with forest owners. The project took two years and Tieto was responsible for developing an online application for forest owners.

"Tieto was responsible for approximately half of the project. Tieto handled its role in the project very well and it was easy to work with them. Project management and transparency were good: they kept their promises and stuck to the schedule," Jumppanen says.

The multivendor nature of the shared project was one dimension but, according to Jumppanen, the most challenging aspect was that no such service had ever been built before.

"Tieto was a reliable and transparent partner. They were able to anticipate which matters would require reactions. I felt that they knew what was going to happen next and that they knew what had been done to precisely the right level."

Towards multichannel customer service

Metsäverkko is also a functioning example of big data management. The service provides the data that is required for transactions, such as information on ownership, locations and mapping. Additionally, invitations to tender are refined from large data volumes and the customer can be provided with a visualisation of the tenders in a simple form.

Alongside the Metsäverkko project, Metsä Group worked with Tieto to develop multichannel customer service to support its digital services.

"Now our customers can receive support for their purchasing and sales processes via chat. We will soon be able to use another new service: co-browsing, which will enable us to take control of the customer's screen and show them how to do things directly," Jumppanen says.

Tieto also produced a tool for the customer service group to aggregate all of the messages from chat, Twitter, Facebook and phones. "The tool provides us with an efficient engine for our customer service."

This development work is a continuation of the implementation of Metsä Group's digital strategy. The largest development projects have been completed but the work is not over yet.

"We see digitalisation as a means of improving the customer experience and increase our own cost-efficiency – this is continuous development," Jumppanen says.

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