The collaboration between Neve and HiQ began in 2011, when then the CEO brought up the idea of deriving a competitive advantage from integrations. As CIO, Hannu Vaarasai is responsible for tendering for the acquisition of an integration platform and transferring the integrations to the new platform. Vaara shares:
”HiQ was selected as the supplier of the integration platform because of its different approach. Other providers sold finished technical products and felt to be very inflexible in their approach. HiQ emphasized, on the one hand, the importance of commonly agreed practices and the role of communication in implementing integrations. The integration platform and its technical implementation, on the other hand, came second after that.
This was a very progressive perspective compared to other providers: technology should serve commonly agreed practices and business and not the other way around. We have returned to this basic issue throughout our eight years of cooperation. During our cooperation, we have been able to develop our business in a completely new direction."
Initially, Neve relied entirely on the HiQ's expertise.
“We dared to ask how worthwhile it would be to work with integrations and we also listened to the answers. We started with the basics. Together, we set up the FRENDS integration platform and started using it to implement, monitor and develop integrations,” says Vaara.
From the very beginning, the commonly agreed practices of the Integration Competence Center (ICC) emphasized by HiQ were also included.
”The ICC is not a ready-made software or code of conduct package, but an ongoing partnership operating model. It consists of practices to ensure adequate dialogue between identified stakeholders. The result of this dialogue is a concrete framework, responsibilities and approaches to integration work.
When we set off, there was ICC for managing individual integrations. Currently, it is a tool for continuous development and partnership management. ICC practices also help manage risks. Everything that is done with integrations is planned and managed,” Vaara continues.
Neve and HiQ's technology collaboration is built on the FRENDS integration platform. Its use and development is governed by a commonly agreed ICC operating model, which has grown into a common management model and a way to share integration-related tasks between Neve, HiQ and other stakeholders.
Our cooperation has evolved from a formal communication to a dialogue within and between different organizations. Today, our executives know who to call within HiQ to solve chellenges. So you could say that HiQ has become part of our organization.
As a result of the cooperation, Neve's own expertise has also grown enormously and the size of the unit responsible for integrations has tripled. Today, through its FRENDS integration platform, Neve provides integration services to eight energy players in northern Finland. When the integration platform services were commercialized 2.5 years ago for other similar suppliers, the customer became a service provider.
In the partnership between Neve and HiQ, both have complementary strengths that make us more than the sum of their parts. Hannu Vaara summarizes: “We at Neva are experts in the energy and water and infrastructure sectors, and HiQ are experts in the implementation of digital service packages spiced with a strong understanding of the energy sector. We both enrich each other's business and benefit from each other's expertise.”
Already in 2011, Neve's management made a strategic policy to develop a business based on integrations. ”The development of the partnership to this level has only been possible because the Group's management has been aware of the importance of integrations from the very beginning and has continuously supported the development work," says Vaara.
The biggest benefit of the partnership is concentrated in the dialogue between experts across the organization, which has expanded beyond integration activities.
”HiQ has a clear vision for modern business development. Its advises and sparring challenged us to develope our customer relationships and business. It is a huge benefit that HiQ itself is responsible for the software development of the FRENDS integration platform. In this way, software development is done based on customer needs and feedback. FRENDS offers unlimited integration development opportunities tailored directly to our needs. We do not have to shackle our thinking and development ideas to ready-made structures,” says Hannu Vaara.
Napapiirin Energia and VesiOy, or NEVE, is the parent company of a group of 6 Lapland public service companies. Neve's staff consists of approximately 200 energy, water and infrastructure services professionals. Neve is a regionally significant and vibrant multidisciplinary player that builds water and energy solutions in Lapland.