Last week, the Nordic region’s AI, data and analytics community gathered for the second time at one place for the Data and AI Readiness (DAIR) Awards and to celebrate the outstanding achievements of individuals and enterprises in the area. The Award ceremony was hosted at one of the most iconic theatres in Stockholm, Vasateatern. It was magical and filled with many emotions, laughter, great food and a private concert by the Swedish singer Chris Kläfford.
With the Annual DAIR Awards Hyperight and the community acknowledge and celebrate exceptional individuals, teams, and organisations who are driving Data and AI innovation forward; making an outstanding innovation, progress, and impact with their Data Management, Advanced Analytics, and AI efforts and projects; selflessly sharing their knowledge with others; fostering talent; promoting diversity and inclusion; and inspiring young generations and other practitioners to follow the same path.
These public Awards are divided into individual and enterprise categories, each open to anyone or any organisation working or operating in the Nordics to nominate or apply. The Awards are given to individuals and enterprises with the highest public votes per category. There were about 8500 votes this year for all of the 19 categories. The public voting was available from the 15 of October to the 7 of December 2022. Looking at the quality of nominees and the nominated organisations, it must have been a daunting task for one to choose between the candidates. Among the nominees, there were leaders, experts, and practitioners from academia, the private, and the public sector, all more than worthy to take the award home. More importantly, this event served again as a platform for the present data and AI community to network and explore opportunities for cross-sector collaborations that can be celebrated in the future as well.
The event was hosted by Errol Koolmeister, Founder of The AI Framework and Goran Cvetanovski, Founder and CEO of Hyperight AB, both accompanied by Saranda Arifi, Editorial Director at Hyperight.
“The world of data and AI is constantly evolving and expanding, and it is only through collaboration, knowledge sharing, and a commitment to realizing the value that we can continue to make progress in this exciting field. That is why the DAIR Awards are so important – they provide an opportunity for us to come together and recognize some of the individuals and organisations who are leading the way in the development and application of data management, advanced analytics, and AI. But the awards are about more than just recognizing excellence – they are also about inspiring and fostering the next generation of Data, Analytics, and AI practitioners. Bringing the community together. By showcasing the incredible work being done by our nominees, we hope to inspire others to follow in their footsteps and make their own contributions to the field.” said in his remarks Goran Cvetanovski, assisted by ChatGPT in writing the opening remarks.
“We are now at the point in history where companies are finally seeing the benefits of AI and data, which means that there will be even more investments in this area. When I started in the field as a data scientist, we used to build models. But what we do today is we enable in the future by building capabilities.”, said Errol Koolmeister in his speech.
Let’s go quickly through the winners and the achievements.
For the Data Management Professional of the Year Category in 2022 was voted Diana Van Der Westhuizen, Head of Data Governance and Information Architecture at Zenseact. She recently joined the forward-leaning Zenseact in driving data governance, setting the architecture and more. Informatica supported the category and presented the Award to the winner on stage.
The Analytics Professional of the Year Award winner was Minna Vakkilainen, VP, Analytics, Data and Loyalty (K-Plussa) at Kesko – K-Group. In her appreciation speech she said: “When it comes to utilizing data here at K-Group, digitalization and customer experience are two critical and central teams in our strategy. Our high-quality data and multiple data paid services to create value for our customers but also for our retailers, partners and whole business as well. However, there is still some work left to be done so we can offer our customers an even better-personalized experience in both physical and online stores. This Award will give me extra motivation to continue this work.”
The Data Science Professional of the Year Category winner was Anna Baecklund, Head of Data Science at ICA Gruppen. Databricks supported the category and presented the Award to the winner on stage. Databricks also supported the Machine Learning Professional of the Year Category, where a winner was Robert Luciani, AI & Data Advisor at The AI Framework.
Another category supported by Databricks was the Artificial Intelligence Professional of the Year. Tonia Sideri, Head of AI and Analytics CoE at Novo Nordisk, won this Award. Through a video message, she said: “Thanks to my colleagues in Novo Nordisk. We have tripled our area size within a year, and we have operational ML projects that bring data to life all the way to production, commercial, finance etc. We have built an MLOPs team, we have utilized the mature platforms, and we are ready to scale even further the AI in the organisation… Let’s keep driving AI, let’s keep following a field that is faster than any of us and utilizing the collective intelligence to create real impact in our field and bring data to life.”
Korina Kuhar, Senior Data Engineer at Nets Group, won the Data Engineering Professional of the Year Category. “Thank you for including this category. Not often data engineers get credits. We are found when something doesn’t work.”, she said.
The inspiring Data and AI Transformation Professional of the 2022 is Josefine Boqvist, Head of Analytics IT at Telia. In her speech she said: “It is that much about technology, we got that, but the transformation is so hard. Being successful in transformation is having the right people. So this Award goes to my team and colleagues at Telia.” MongoDB supported the category.
The AI Ethics Professional of the Year Category was Virginia Dignum, a Professor at Umeå University. In her video message to the audience she acknowledged the work of the community in this area and said that it matters a lot that it is given importance to this category, and in that way to the development and use of AI in a responsible and ethical way.
Vanessa Eriksson, SVP, Chief Digital Officer at Zenseact won in the Data and AI influencer of the Year Category. This is her second time to win a DAIR Award. Last year she won the Award for Data Management Professional of the Year.
The Lifetime Achievement in AI this year won Daniel Akenine, National Technology Officer at Microsoft. The Award was presented and given by last year’s Lifetime Achievement winner Anders Arpteg, who in his motivation for the award highlighted:
“Daniel has, over the last decades, demonstrated an exceptionally strong engagement for how we can maximize the benefits of technology and digitalization in our society, especially for the possibilities with AI. His extensive background speaks for itself, with 12 years as Sweden’s national technology officer for Microsoft, member of the government’s National Digitalisation Council, Co-Founder of the AI think Tank addAI.org, part of developing Sweden’s National Data Strategy, advisor for multiple boards and initiatives, written multiple books, and so much more. This demonstrates how he has been instrumental in driving data and AI progress for Microsoft and our society in general.”
Daniel in his short acceptance speech highlighted the importance of continuing working with AI and transforming data, working with data and finding knowledge in data. He also encouraged the audience to continue asking questions regarding how AI will impact our lives in the future and push forward the development of it with human centered and ethical approach and design.
Salling Group won the Data and AI-Driven Transformation of the Year Category. Dataiku supported the Category. Salling Group also won in the Enterprise AI Solution of the Year (technical) Category that HP supported. The third Award that Salling Group won was the Most Innovative use of AI/ML of the Year (business) Category. The company was awarded for its impressive transformational solution with battling food waste while limiting lost revenue, and freeing-up time for employees in stores by addressing a major pain point of manually marking down prices of products which are getting close to expiration date by digitizing the procedure, enabling accurate tracking of markdown performance and ML/AI-based recommendations of prices. Over the past year, Salling Group has transformed the manual markdown procedure into a data-driven semi-automatic solution across more than 600 physical stores in Denmark.
The winner of the Enterprise Data Strategy of the Year was Ericsson for their work in establishing Data Catalogue and Data Marketplace to improve Data Literacy across the organsiation. The program enables Data Democratization and Self-Service improves customer and employee experience and supports Ericssons realisation of Digital Transformation initiatives. Their representatives said the company had undergone a significant transformation, enabling data strategy and close cooperation of AI and data professionals with the business teams. Ericsson also won the Best Enterprise Data Literacy Program of the Year Category. For this, the company’s representatives that picked the Award said they want data-driven decisions and the value of the business driven by data and deploying AI. But what is challenging is changing the employees’ thinking about this. To overcome this, they have made many changes regarding data quality, catalogue, data marketplace etc.
The winner in the Best Use of Predictive/Prescriptive Analytics of the Year Category was Banking Circle for their work with latest AI/ML that allows the company to go beyond static rules which measure transactions against one particular risk indicator, and assess how a transaction performs against a broader understanding of what risky behaviour looks like across the Banking Circle platform. They also won the Best AI Startup Category with the same project.
The winner in the Public Sector Data and AI Project of the Year Category is SVT. Hakan Grimfeldt, Group Manager, Live Captioning, who accepted the Award in name of SVT said that it has been an exciting year implementing AI-produced subtitles on the local news for the audience broadening the public service and that more changes will happen in future.
The Organisation Category, Data for Good won the company Too Good To Go, for their work on tackling the big issue of food waste (a problem that accounts for >10% of CO2 emissions worldwide), in an innovative and disruptive way. They scaled quickly across the world, creating an intuitive application, and building a network of collaborations with vendors, shops, and kitchens. Data is naturally part of the company’s DNA and they utilize it daily to uncover opportunities, understand pains, and experiment with features to help save more food from the bin.
Three fire talks also followed the event. Henrik Göthberg, Founder of Dairdux, spoke about what the 4th industrial revolution is and that data and AI Readiness should be in the core DNA string of any organisations. Peter Sarlin, CEO & Co-Founder at Silo AI, shared insights from their recently published report about the Nordics and the state of Entperise AI in terms of scale and capabilities, how organisations apply AI, and if AI is creating value. The three findings are that there is an increasing divide between large and small organisations invested in AI-related projects and efforts, there is a decreasing number of AI companies in the Nordics, and AI rarely creates a value of its own, but it is a value creator that accelerates the value of digital products. Lars Gudbrandsson, CEO of IIH Nordic, spoke about applying data, AI and analytics to gain true value and economic return on the investment.
“We are still in the early stage because data and data thinking for many companies do not exist on a strategic level. Data is happening on an operational level in most cases and companies. There is still room for improvement and to get full value out of the data that can be collected. And we as a community show that there is value in data… Most companies that are getting the full value of data are the companies that are able to manage and tend to democratize data, and that is the key enabler for the digital transformation of any company. We as a community have a big role in making sure that data goes on operations and strategies level and got to democratize data to drive commercial value out of it.”, Lars said.
In it closing remarks Goran Cvetanovski, pointed out the duality of AI and encouraged the online and onsite audience to collaborate, share and actively work on doing good with the technology.
“The impact of AI on society is a topic of much debate and discussion. Some people are optimistic about the potential benefits of AI, such as improved healthcare, increased efficiency and productivity, and the creation of new jobs. Others are more concerned about the potential negative effects of AI, such as job loss and inequality, and the potential for AI to be used for harmful purposes. It is difficult to predict the exact impact of AI on society in the future, as it will depend on how the technology is developed and used. However, it is important for society to carefully consider the potential consequences of AI and take steps to ensure that its development and deployment are beneficial for all. This may involve investing in education and training to ensure that people are prepared for the changes that AI will bring and developing ethical guidelines and regulations to govern the use of AI. And that is why your role in the future of business and society is so important. You are the future leaders of our enterprises. You are the ones setting the foundations of the products and services our children will use in future. So continue to be at the forefront of driving innovation and solving complex problems using data. Continue helping organisations make informed decisions, improve their operations and services and gain a competitive advantage. And do good. “
You can still watch the Awards ceremony on our YouTube Channel for anyone who didn’t have a chance to follow it last week. In the meantime, we share some photos to get a sense about the ceremony’s atmosphere from last week.
Our events are one option where you can follow more of the work of the individuals and organisations in the Nordic and beyond that won this year. And you can always follow us for any updates regarding DAIR Awards and other recognitions that we give to the data and AI practitioners, including Nordic 100 in Data, Analytics & AI.