Microsoft chose Sulava as one of the world’s best in AI and training – four awards in the Partner of The Year competition!

Microsoft has chosen Sulava as one of the world’s best partners as an expert in artificial intelligence and training. Microsoft gave Sulava a total of four awards in the annual Partner of the Year competition; Sulava was selected as a finalist in the world’s top four in the Microsoft Copilot and Microsoft Training Services categories. In Finland, Sulava won the Copilot for Microsoft 365 category, and promoting the capitalization of artificial intelligence at the forefront earned Aki Antman the Influencer of the Year award.

The Partner of the Year awards recognize Microsoft partners for demonstrating excellence in innovation and implementation of customer solutions based on Microsoft technology. The honorees of the awards were chosen from more than 4,700 nominations from more than 100 countries.

“It has been really great to see this growth. The achievements and teamwork are absolutely brilliant, a warm thank you to our staff and customers! A huge thank you to Microsoft for the recognitions, they provide great support for further development. It is important that the work done is reflected through such recognitions.”

“We have been among the first in the world to invest in Copilot development, productize its implementation and train our customers extensively. We organised the world’s first Copilot for Microsoft 365 training for customers for example”, comments Mika Sarhimaa, CEO of Sulava.

Our innovativeness and open-mindedness are reflected in the recognitions. Understanding that business use cases are the thing is essential. And numerous discussions with both customers and Microsoft about what this rapid development will bring have played a key role.

adds Katri Valtari, training services director at Sulava

Watershed moment that distinguishes future success

The capitalization of artificial intelligence has often been mentioned as a significant milestone accelerating development and changing the world, just as the advent of the Internet, for example, was at the time. Sarhimaa, Valtari and Aki Antman, founder of Sulava and Head of the AI Arm unit of the parent company The Digital Neighborhood, see that this is a moment when the way we utilise technology is undergoing a major transformation and the ability to change will distinguish future success. Organizations that are able to deploy AI in an agile way will be the winners. The result is an increase in innovation and, with it, a huge boost to the national economy.

“Organizations now have a watershed moment; Future success largely depends on how quickly use cases, savings and new business opportunities are considered using artificial intelligence extensively”, Antman says, and continues:

It’s not about saving minutes and hours, it’s about real, financial savings, new business and new operating models that can be created with Copilots and AI. In the UAE, for example, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company has said that AI and Copilot generated more than $500 million in added value for them 2023 alone. We hope that this will serve as a good benchmark for our other customers about what is possible.

Organizations must, to succeed, be able to increase the ability of the entire personnel to utilize technology in their business. This is strongly reflected in phenomena such as generative AI, the exponential growth of low-code no-code development, and changes in legislation that bring more and more responsibility to the organization’s management, such as an understanding of how information security is built in the organization.

“And the more people are involved in designing and making solutions, the greater the benefits for business. Modern ways of working, such as smartly storing data in the cloud so Copilot can leverage it, are mandatory. Of course, you can continue to operate the old-fashioned way, but you can’t succeed”, Valtari comments, and continues:

“In technological development, the focus and decision-making will again shift to business, but this can only be achieved by increasing the understanding of solutions. For this reason, we also disrupt our own actions; We have trainings where development is based on the business needs of each organization instead of general examples”.

Key AI themes to ensure competitiveness

The utilization of artificial intelligence is, above all, a major change in work culture, operating methods and -models. The key to success is the extensive participation and training of personnel, business areas and management. What are the themes related to artificial intelligence that you consider to be the most important for ensuring the success and competitiveness of organizations and why?

“Copilots and applications that work independently and intelligently on their side are the themes that should now be focused on at the same time as developing the personnel’s capabilities to utilize AI. That’s when we really start to move from Copilot being a personal or team assistant to that it automatically does things for you and assist in automating and streamlining complex event chains and processes,” Antman says.

Antman points out that Copilots will be the primary user interface for personnel to the AI services that the organization develops and implements. Therefore, knowing how to utilize them is at the core of everything. Copilots can be expanded, and any AI services and language models can be used behind them.

All benefits and competitive advantages come from this. It is at the core of capitalizing AI to consider how to make Copilots look like your own. In other words, how to bring the history, background information, know-how and processes of the entire organization over the decades to their aid.

“Sulava’s comprehensive expertise in the Microsoft ecosystem is then used to create interfaces, utilizing all modern technology and low-code no-code know-how. The work we do with different Copilots is based on all Sulava’s expertise in Microsoft’s cloud and artificial intelligence.”

Personnel extensively innovating in the most successful customer collaborations

Sulava and The Digital Neighborhood already have more than 200 Copilot implementation and capitalization customer projects, both companies and the public sector. The number of people trained to utilize it is more than 70,000. Sulava has also done Azure OpenAI Service-based applications for approximately 50 customers over the past six months. What does the successful customer collaborations have in common?

“In many of our successful collaborations related to the capitalization of artificial intelligence, for example in large companies in the financial sector and manufacturing, and in the public sector, in healthcare and large cities, the common thread is that wide range of personnel have been able to innovate and received good support for it. This also inspires and motivates people in a new way”, Sarhimaa comments.

Sarhimaa points out that the capitalization of Copilot is different from what has traditionally been thought of in technology projects, because it directly affects every user, in all work tasks. This requires a lot from both users and business.

Change management and adoption is one of the most important tasks so that the entire organization genuinely utilizes the tools and innovates operations with their support.

It is important to change the way we work, from the CEO to the nurses and from the captains to the field staff. A good question for the CEO is whose role do you consider to be of such little value to the organization that it is not worthwhile for them to be involved in this development. And the best results are achieved where the top management is actively involved in the change journey and immediately takes the tools into active use.

Antman comments

“Curiosity, courage and a willingness to experiment are essential. This is not a knowledge but a skill, and before anything is a habit, it requires a lot of repetition. As with any life change, you have to work for months before you really have a new habit. Experimenting with everything and boldly rethinking is important, because thoughts are born while doing”, Valtari comments.

Everyday innovativeness and open-mindedness

Sarhimaa, Valtari and Antman highlight several examples where innovation and open-mindedness have taken Sulava forward over the years. Over the past year and more, significant investments in AI development and the new technologies and teaching methods used in training have been key drivers of success.

“As soon as Microsoft announced in March 2023 that Copilots were coming, we realized this was a big deal and went all out to invest in it. We immediately understood that this is not a project or a one-time deployment, but a continuous journey of change, from Copilots to AI-native work. We have systematically expanded our know-how and invested in forefront in know-how and product development. This has created an offering that is and will be relevant to customers now and in the future”, Antman comments.

We are very quick and open-minded to experiment, looking for new models agilely and continuously. Examples of this in our trainings include supporting employee equality through agile training translations with AI, or how induction training for new employees can be handled using Microsoft Mesh. It is important that we know how to use these components already now when they are separate, because it will be a big deal when they are together.

Valtari says

According to Valtari, the reason why new methods and technologies in personnel training are so important is twofold. The world changed forever after Covid, and employers are forced to invent new ways to reach employees. On the other hand, generation Z has entered the workforce, and they are used to different tools, not email for example, and are technology natives in a different way than before.

“So, organizations must change if they want to be in the game. Those who perceive this generation to be a valuable workforce, now want to be vigilant about development. And, naturally, development reveals new traits of older workers, it is more a question of mindset than age. As Sulava is a pioneer in modern work, we want to be the first to try out new opportunities”, Valtari comments.

Microsoft partnership as a strong backbone of excellence

“Congratulations to the winners and finalists of the 2024 Microsoft Partner of the Year Awards!” said Nicole Dezen, Chief Partner Officer and Corporate Vice President at Microsoft. “The momentum generated by numerous AI & Copilot announcements this year fueled innovation from our partners, enabling groundbreaking services and solutions to customers. I am inspired by the capability and creativity in our partner ecosystem and this year’s winners beautifully demonstrate the best of what’s possible with AI and the Microsoft Cloud.”

“The recognitions are very significant. European partners are very rarely chosen among the best in the world. For example, the training finalist recognition is the first in four years in Europe, and the other finalists in the Copilot category are large global companies. It’s great to be Finnish in this moment”, Sarhimaa smiles.

With the new awards included, Microsoft has now chosen Sulava five times as a world top partner in knowledge work development. Previously, Sulava has won the global Cloud Productivity Award in 2015, has been selected as a Modern Workplace Transformation finalist in 2018 and as a Teamwork finalist in 2019.

In Finland, Sulava has won awards since its establishment e.g. in Modern Work and Security & Compliance. Seven of Sulava’s employees have Microsoft MVP recognition and over 40 Sulava trainers have an MCT-certificate.

Microsoft’s support in the development of our experts, cooperation with our customers, and the company’s background work are hugely important. Microsoft is especially important to Sulava, because we operate in many solution areas and because of our training partnership.

“Sulava grabs, chews and is among the first to bring Microsoft innovations to the fore, making it easy for our customers to adopt them and reclaim their benefits. Our experts are well-known top experts, deep in Microsoft technology, and through that we offer our customers well-considered advice on which direction they should take their own environment. Sulava has excellent prerequisites for operating in this changing world both in Finland and abroad”, he concludes.

Explore Our Services for AI

Harnessing the power of AI-assisted innovation and productivity opportunities for all employees in the organization is essential.

Our services for implementing Copilot help you adopt revolutionary technology in a controlled and sensible manner. With the support of our services, you can enhance your organization’s productivity and creativity with Copilot. Our experienced experts guide your organization in effectively using Copilot for M365.

The easiest way to get started is to check out Sulava’s Copilot services, such as the popular Copilot Essentials –package! Essentials includes everything your organization needs to deploy Copilot for Microsoft 365 in an agile and easy package. If you’re looking for a more customized package, Copilot Modern Work as a Service offers everything tailored to your organization’s needs.

Take your skills to the next level with our trainings

We are an official Microsoft Training Services Partner, providing expertise across all three clouds! Our trainers have experience from numerous client projects and bring the latest knowledge to training sessions from real-world practical situations.

Artificial intelligence brings a wealth of new opportunities and new skill requirements. With our help, you can ensure that your organization keeps pace with rapid technological development and that your staff is equipped with the latest knowledge and skills. We offer expertise in areas such as the implementation of Copilot – from data protection to end-user AI training.

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In fitness, they talk about a three-month period of repetition required for exercise to become a habit. This same commitment and persistent repetition are required to create new ways of working.

People who have started exercising know that the enthusiasm may run out and the new lifestyle will not start as expected. If this happens now with AI learning, the benefits will remain in the starting pits.

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Read more about the Partner of the Year Awards from Microsoft’s publication and information about all the winners on Microsoft’s site

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Rozzyn Boy, Chief Communications and Brand Officer;

Mika Sarhimaa;

Katri Valtari;

Aki Antman;

Writer: Hanna Valjakka