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"Everyone is talking about digital transformation, but how do we actually make it happen?"
This was the question asked back in 2014 by Marcus Wallenberg and Mats Agervi, a then Ericsson executive who was soon to be co-founder and CEO of Combient.
They both saw the big challenge in keeping up with the rapid movement of technology, and how it affected not only IT departments but entire organizations - from executive leadership to culture and communications. Even more true for the established enterprises with hundreds of years of legacy and thousands of employees. Machine learning? Working with startups? Agile?
This challenge was - and still is - cutting across companies, industries, and even countries. With major impacts on climate, ethics, urban life, economy and people, it’s fair to say this is one of our biggest challenges yet. But that also means a big opportunity.
With three powerful traits of Sweden and the Nordics in mind - a heritage of industry leaders, a prosperous innovation scene and a culture resting on trust - the answer to Marcus’ and Mats’ question was, naturally, to collaborate.
“If five companies say yes, we will actually do it"
A group of leading Swedish companies connected to the Wallenberg family got introduced to the idea: A world-first collaboration network where non-competing industry leaders would share assets and work together on their transformation.
“If five companies say yes, we will actually do it,” that was the deal. Within four months, 11 companies - Atlas Copco, Electrolux, Ericsson, FAM, Investor, LKAB, Saab, SEB, Sigma, SKF and Stora Enso - said yes, and Combient was founded in January 2015.
Today, Combient is the leading cross industry collaboration network in the Nordics. Including 30 large enterprises, and supported by an ecosystem of top universities and startups, the network has created a space for shared assets and rapid growth.
Combient Group counts somewhat 70 employees in Sweden and Finland, representing 15 countries. More than half of the team are senior data scientists, 80% holding a PhD.
But how on earth do we manage to scale industrial AI, re- and upskill the workforce, change culture, bring research closer to the industry, and startups closer to corporations?
We manage because we do it together. Combient’s vision was the same back in 2014 as it is today.