Basware takes down paywalls

Net 2/2015,  2015-11-12

Basware is putting the digitalization talk into action. Its applications are making money transactions digital, faster and easier. IT management plays an important part as a business enabler.

Basware’s Janne Holli doesn’t look like your typical CIO: he dons a casual checkered buttoned-down shirt, summery pants and light tennis shoes. Holli has been treading the halls of the main offices in Espoo for a little over three years, whereas the company itself soon has its 30th anniversary.


”Celebratory preparations are under way but they are still kept under wraps even from the staff,” Holli says, smiling.

Almost every office worker knows Basware’s digital invoicing solutions which are the company’s main business.”We are bringing to businesses the change that has already happened with our consumer customers. Our solutions are needed in transmitting, sending and receiving invoices, but we also have other applications that support the business processes.”

There’s no stopping the change

Basware’s entire business first started and evolved in Finland where it has customers from major corporations to smaller businesses. ”We have managed to cover the domestic market pretty well with about 5,000 clients in Finland,” Holli says.

Basware has even ventured out into the world – and conquered some of it. Calling itself the world’s leading provider of digital invoicing solutions, Basware has as many international clients as it has domestic ones. They have sought growth through acquisitions in Germany, Belgium, and most recently in Great-Britain, for example.

The trend of digitalization is powerful and inevitable. There’s no stopping the change.

”It’s hard to imagine that Nordea would close down its digital banking operations and called me saying ’let’s get you a new bank book’.”

According to Holli, the strictly regulated banking market in Finland and the Nordic Countries have for their part enabled the digitalization. ”Since we have strong legislation it’s been easy to bring applications to the interaction and invoice transmission between companies. Not in every country is financial transparency – how to say it politely – a number one priority.”

Digital invoicing is not being adopted in the corporate world as swiftly as in the consumer end, but there is a natural explanation to that. ”The larger and more multinational enterprise, the more there’s complexity, which will slow down the transformation process.” Holli gives an easy metaphor:”The information systems of my family are far lighter than those of a major corporation, which is why it’s quite easy for us to adopt digital invoicing.”

ICT – an important cornerstone for the business

Janne Holli works as a CIO in a firm whose core is information management. Therefore, the ICT department plays an exceptionally important role in implementing the company’s strategy.

”We maintain and develop our infrastructure, which runs the services we sell to our clients. Fujitsu helps us with that, ensuring positive customer experience, which is the most critical area of making business.”

ICT also provides the basic in-house IT services for approximately 1,400 people in twelve countries, as well as other support systems, such as CRM. ”Since we want to grow, we must ensure the efficiency and scalability of our internal processes and information systems.”

More than 80 million invoices and 500 billion euros worth of money are annually transferred using Basware’s systems. No wonder security is a most pivotal cornerstone of its business.

What makes ICT even more challenging is that Basware has clients in over a hundred countries and in every possible industry. ”In every country we need to comply with the requirements of both legislation and different business procedures, whether it be the American patient record legislation or meeting the German privacy standard.”

Thick-skinned humanism

In the history of this 44-year-old CIO we find a humanist education, research in developing countries, and international relations. ”I’m not an expert of all fields with an engineer’s education, although it is important to have basic technical knowledge.”

In Holli’s opinion, a CIO needs consistency, common sense and relationship and interaction skills. ”We have many excellent specialists, and I for my part wish to encourage people to put their expertise to use. I try to align people’s energies to achieve a common goal.”

In his previous, jobs Holli has worked in IT management and business process development at Elisa and Nokia. There he learnt that one should bravely bring forth one’s own ideas. ”There’s no point in worrying about failing in advance. Sometimes people get hooked up on endless planning and forget to take actual action.”

IT management is first and foremost about service, and therefore a CIO needs one more quality: a thick skin. ”People will always give feedback on service, which you have to be able to digest,” Holli says.

”What people are most annoyed about are the simple, daily occurring problems and if you fail in fixing them they start to accumulate. Specialists shouldn’t have to waste their time worrying about the wrong things.”

While being rewarding, the CIO’s job is also demanding. Holli considers his biggest challenge in his work the wide array of expectations. ”Individual people, business units and clients all have expectations and requirements in terms of quality, and we have a limited amount of resources and money available. This is why prioritizing and communicating effectively are important.”

Text Sami Turunen
Photos Sarri Kukkonen
Translation Päivi Vuoriaro

Janne Holli’s average day is full of meetings, both internal and with clients.”You can’t handle them all using Lync, but at times it’s good to meet people face to face.”

The role of IT management in the knowledge industry is different than in a traditional corporation. ”We have the opportunity to consolidate the IT management activities in a whole different way than, for example, an industrial company that has, at multiple locations, manufactured the same product for a century.” 

Fujitsu as Basware’s partner

Basware’s ICT department employs 50 people in six different countries. ”Our in-house work is supported by a network of partners,” says CIO Janne Holli.

Also a part of this network is Fujitsu, who offers Basware data center services for running applications marketed for clients. Also Basware’s own information systems, the data center capacity and components, as well as installation and delivery of workstations, are Fujitsu’s responsibility.

”We have been happy with the delivery and quality of the services, and our co-operation has expanded over the years.”


  • Founded in 1985
  • Net sales 127,7 million euros (2014)
  • Headcount 1 400
  • Client companies approx. 10,000
  • Basware Commerce Network is the world’s largest open inter-company network, which enables commerce to as many as a million buyers and sellers in more than a hundred countries.

More Information

Published in the Net Magazine 2/2015,  2015-11-12

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