Skip to Content
Ahlstrom Capgemini client story banner image
Client Story

From Descriptive to Predictive – Ahlstrom’s Data Transformation

Customer: Ahlstrom
Country: Finland
Industry: Fiber-based materials

Ahlstrom’s journey toward a truly data-powered organization required an agile approach to data, analytics, and reporting projects, as well as making better use of the latest technologies. After partnering with Capgemini, Ahlstrom has seen big improvements in how they can access, analyze and use data for improved competitiveness and sustainability.

Benefits of our cooperation in a nutshell

  • Improved ability to access, analyze and use data for decision-making
  • Shorter time from recognized business need to implemented data solution
  • Improved ability to optimize production assets and adapt to changes
  • Less time spent on manual data work, like cleaning up data sheets

Starting point

Not that long ago, getting relevant data from Ahlstrom’s factory operations to inform decisions would take around 2 weeks, and the data still required consolidation and cleaning up in Excel and other tools. The technologies were there, but strong buy-in from business and thorough implementation of efficient analytics solutions hadn’t been achieved.

After taking on the first data use case projects, and with the new owner (Bain Capital) seeking to step up the firm’s data-driven decision-making, Ahlstrom suddenly found themselves facing explosive demand for data and analytics development. This inspired their goal of becoming a truly data-powered organization on a global level.

“Capgemini showed a deep understanding of our needs from the very beginning. This coupled with competitive pricing made it an easy decision to partner up with them.”

– Tuukka-Juhana Ukkonen, Head of Data and Analytics Solutions, Ahlstrom

Agile meets turbocharged tech and real-time data

Ahlstrom’s cooperation with Capgemini introduced a new agile way of planning and implementing data projects, taking their data-powered decision-making maturity on a new trajectory. Instead of waiting for weeks, decision-makers in 13 countries – all the way up to top management – can now access business-critical data almost instantly once the data has been created.

How did we get here? Ahlstrom’s transformation into a more data-powered organization can be sliced into 3 key contributions:

The move to agile value-based projects

Rather than locking down their development roadmap one year in advance, the data team is now responsive to needs arising from the changing business environment in a much shorter time span. This is a structural change that takes time to embed in the organization, as people need to learn that investments shouldn’t always be earmarked in today’s changing business environment for the full year. Strategic themes are of course guiding prioritization of the demand management for data projects, but with an agile approach, changing business needs can be continuously evaluated and considered in the roadmap. Ultimately, not being tied to a fixed investment roadmap brings great adaptability.

On a project level, agile ways of working have brought new energy and speed to Ahlstrom’s development initiatives. Fast, cyclic iteration improves the rate of producing new analytics solutions and keeps the costs of unavoidable failed experiments low. There is a big difference in scrapping something that has been in the works for 5 weeks rather than 8 months.

“From the beginning of the partnership, our data and analytics team has been very happy to work with Ahlstrom. Communication with both business and IT stakeholders is straightforward and effective, which enables our team to capture the business requirements and ensure we are building valuable cases. The tech stack we work with is modern and development activities are interesting. Last but not least, the international culture of Ahlstrom is a perfect match with Capgemini’s.”

– Roosa Säntti, Head of Insights & Data, Capgemini Finland

Modernized technology and data journey

Ahlstrom runs on 8 distinct ERP systems for manufacturing execution. Harmonizing data model discrepancies between systems of this scale is no small feat, but our joint work has tackled the issues with impressive results. Since the beginning of the partnership, analytics solutions have been created with a modernized approach, with the main goal of enabling self-service capabilities for decision makers.

Purpose-built technology and reports enable a smooth flow of data from production facilities and the value chain into decisions that shape the business’ short- and long-term competitive outlook. Currently, plants churn out lots of data about capacity, products, and so on. The data flows from Ahlstrom’s Manufacturing Execution System (MES) into a local data warehouse, and from there to Azure cloud and data platform. Data harmonization happens in the cloud platform. Finally, PowerBI assembles the data in actionable dashboards that help employees across the organization make informed decisions.

Cultural shift

At the end of the day, no way of working, nor any piece of tech will make a true difference until adopted by people in their attitudes and behavior. Agile practices and a renewed technological approach put together have given Ahlstrom the means to pull through a cultural shift needed to proceed on the data transformation journey. Key stakeholders and the wider organization are learning to expect more from data and to use it for better decisions and greater impact on the business.

“Our data analyst team works closely with Ahlstrom’s business stakeholders to collect the requirements for data use cases and to validate that the solutions we build are valuable. This means that data is correct and that it’s provided in a form that enables immediate business decisions. It has really helped our job to have open and motivated business stakeholders to work with us throughout the journey, and it has also enabled rapid learnings about the customer’s business within our team.”

– Roosa Säntti, Head of Insights & Data, Capgemini Finland

Capgemini’s role

6 to 8 of Capgemini’s Nordic experts relentlessly work on the code and systems within Ahlstrom’s data infrastructure and processes. The team has also had a major impact on enforcing the agile ways of working and in bringing out the best in Ahlstrom’s tech stack.

“Our work together demonstrates just how important the ways of working are to a company’s ability to collect, analyze and use data.”

– Taru Rantanen, Senior Project Manager, Capgemini Finland

Benefits & impact

In years past, the pace of development was 2-3 completed data projects annually, which meant around 8-10 new reporting solutions or dashboards. After going agile with Capgemini, the rate of new solutions has increased by 5X. The work has helped Ahlstrom to leap forward in terms of how they are able to use data. These are some of the most concrete and valuable benefits Ahlstrom has gained:

  • Improved access to data, and higher data quality
  • Better visibility to inbound and outbound material flows
  • Greater control over pricing decisions and negotiations
  • Improved ability to optimize assets like paper machines
  • Better adaptability to changes in orders, sales, costs, quality
  • Less time spent on manually compiling information

Each of these increases Ahlstrom’s ability to move from short-term descriptive reporting towards a more impactful predictive use of data.

Broader impact on Ahlstrom’s transformation projects

Data has a central role in enabling Ahlstrom’s business transformation in a wider sense. Improvements have given the customer keys to better processes and leadership with data. The agile and DevOps principles presented by the Capgemini collaboration have brought a project management maturity boost to Ahlstrom’s other core transformations, like their SAP S/4HANA renewal. Top management has been excited by the real-time visibility to data through modern analytics solutions.

Data as the enabler of sustainability

For a manufacturing organization like Ahlstrom, data is heavily linked to sustainability targets, which are high on their agenda. Real-time access to for instance energy consumption data (electricity, steam, gas) allows Ahlstrom to find opportunities for decreasing their carbon footprint. In addition, data helps to support circularity and develop production processes that use less energy and generate less waste without compromising quality. The Finnish team is one of the more advanced when it comes to sustainability, and their goal is to push also other locations to adopt sustainability as part of the local culture.

“We are very excited to have the opportunity to work with a client like Ahlstrom, that has sustainability at the heart of what they do. We are helping Ahlstrom to create transparency to their operations and CO2 footprint, which allows them to reach their sustainability targets but also builds on the bigger mission of them becoming sustainable down to the core. It is very exciting to be a partner in such transformations.”

– Roosa Säntti, Head of Insights & Data, Capgemini Finland

What’s on the horizon?

The work done so far represents an approximately 20-year leap in digital maturity and has had a substantial positive impact on Ahlstrom’s competitiveness in the market. But as is the case with data and all the latest technologies, the work doesn’t end here. Tuukka-Juhana and Ahlstrom have ambitious goals to proceed from foundational projects toward the predictive capabilities of data and analytics.

Experiences from working with Capgemini Finland

We found a shared language with Ahlstrom at the very beginning, which helped to kick off a successful collaboration. Tuukka-Juhana highlights Capgemini’s holistic capabilities, easiness to work with, and commitment to solve Ahlstrom’s most pressing challenges within the area of data & analytics.

“We get a strong set of expertise from the Capgemini team, especially in fine-tuning our ways of working and making the most of modern technologies.

We found the right resources quickly, the dialogue is active on both sides, and in general it feels like a refreshing sparring relationship rather than a traditional purchaser-vendor model.

Capgemini delivers on agreed standards and is highly responsive when new needs come up. They understand what we want and need, and work with the right kind of spirit in a multi-vendor environment.”

– Tuukka-Juhana Ukkonen, Head of Data and Analytics Solutions, Ahlstrom

Get in touch

Where do you stand in terms of data maturity? Do you face challenges in sticking to yearly planning? We’re happy to discuss your goals and pain points in transforming into a data-led organization. Send a message and let’s talk.
First name is not valid.
Last name is not valid.
Company is not valid.
Email is not valid.
Message is not valid.
Slide to submit
Thank you for contacting us! We will be in touch soon. Meanwhile, you can get to know our data, analytics & AI services in more detail.

We are sorry, the form submission failed. Please try again.

Roosa Säntti

Head of Insights and Data, Capgemini Finland
Roosa Säntti is heading Insights & Data practice in Finland and is also an active member of Capgemini’s global I&D Innovation Network. Roosa is a business builder by heart and believes that with data, we can truly drive businesses and society towards a more sustainable future.

Taru Rantanen

Senior Project Manager
Taru Rantanen is Senior Project Manager at BTS Finland. Taru is a portfolio management professional with over five years of experience in SaFe Methodology and large-scale IT Portfolio Management with execution.