Petri Malmelin

Small and large companies should try and learn what AI might bring to them. Go and try!

December 15, 2023

Hi Petri, can you do an elevator pitch about yourself and what you are doing at the moment?

I’m a seasoned change leader and entrepreneur. I help big companies in their major transformations: M&As, ERP journeys, and AI acceleration. 

You are a successful start-up founder. Even if there is not a right answer, can you define the must have characteristics of a successful start-up?

I guess the success formula for any company is multiplication: passionate team x great idea x right timing x market relevancy x assets. If any of the factors is close to zero, the outcome also falls close to zero. And the other way around!


I heard a presentation made by you where you talked about process mining and how to automatically convert data into process illustrations. When thinking about small businesses with fewer resources is that method achievable and even necessary? How?

Process mining tools automatically create fact-based, dynamic process illustrations from transactional data. Human eyes are wonderful at picking what works and what looks incorrect from visual process illustrations. Some of those tools are affordable, and even a single person can do process discovery. 

However, small businesses with a limited number of transactions do not commonly benefit from process mining technology. And the other way around: big companies with millions of transactions can greatly benefit from this method. In global and complex enterprises, I see process mining being an unbeatable way to discover errors, thus improving business processes across the siloed divisions and global process chains.  


Can or is AI helping small businesses, that before could not afford achieving the digitalization necessary to succeed in today's technology world?

We are living in exciting AI times! In November 2023 OpenAI introduced the GPT tool development platform, where anyone can create generative AI applications quickly, cheaply, and easily – without needing to have any programming skills! 

The training data for AI can be structural (like xls tables) or non-structural (like blog posts with pictures).

Small and large companies should try and learn what AI might bring to them. Go and try! 

But to answer the question, I see that many types of businesses can blossom without AI. And simultaneously there will be a growing number of businesses where AI will be the fundamental enabler to stay in the business: “AI or die”.


In what process of an M&A is the use of AI invaluable and where is it not?

AI will have a growing role in mergers and acquisitions

There already are AI platforms that accelerate the due diligence phase: finding overlaps, evaluating the culture fit, analyzing the IT landscape, and concluding the integration effort. The majority of M&As fail to reach the originally set goals, thus anything where AI can grind large data sets and improve the success odds will bring value to M&As.

What inspired you to start AI Monday and what are the main goals of this event?

AI Monday was founded to be an event series and networking community for AI curious people. My original thought in summer 2017 was, that people in Finland would benefit if we shared AI learnings and cases between the like-minded.  

Personally, I wished to gain insights and learning experiences of AI for me: what exists and what is coming up AI (without going back to university lecture rooms).

I was lucky to find great substance and media partners to make AI Monday possible in Helsinki fall 2017.

What are some of the future directions and visions that you have for AI Monday?

AI Monday is a collaborative initiative, driven by DAIN Studios, Taival Advisory, and FCAI (Aalto, HY, VTT). I wish AI Monday will continue finding new and relevant AI themes, which will be presented by enthusiastic experts to the ever-growing demand for a better understanding of what AI is. 

I may have sparkled AI Monday in Finland, but it is Taival and DAIN Studios, who have taken the event series to the next levels and expanded AI Monday to Central-Europe, including biggest cities in Germany. Broder AI topics, new insights and a larger community aiming to do good things for our planet is my wish!

What was your breakthrough moment with AI and did that make you change your businesses in any way?

In 2010’s AI was mostly analytical AI. In 2020’s generative AI has become the mainstream. Large Language Models (LLMs) are enabling constantly new, unprecedented capabilities. For many of us, OpenAI’s Chat GPT was a breakthrough moment in spring 2022.

My breakthrough moment was MidJourney training in May 2023. I learnt to create photo-realistic illustrations to support my story telling. Currently most of my LinkedIn postings contain pictures done with generative AI.

The big AI thing impacting Ämplify’s business is, that large enterprises are gradually starting to build themselves “any question at any time” -capabilities from internal and external data. The AI-technology is there. The data is there. People’s passion and courage will get there.

A deeper insight can be read here: “3 steps to AI powered enterprise”.

What are some of the challenges and opportunities that AI brings to micro and small businesses?

Many small businesses will need to reshape their operations and ways to make a living. I’ve been buying photography services from one skilled photographer for many years. Now this photographer is utilizing generative AI – and the results are just great! He can do more, faster, and even more impressive pictures than before.

Some small businesses will not be impacted by AI or will experience just limited AI consequences. 

The analog is the same as when we got the internet. For many businesses the internet enabled – or even forced – massive changes. If you did not change with internet, you had to close your business, big or small. And for some businesses, the internet was no big deal at all. Same as I expect this to be the case with AI. 

Is not using AI  a fatal blow for any business nowadays?

For many businesses, AI ignorance can be a fatal mistake. My trusted photographer is a good example, he decided to change and is benefitting from AI as an early adopter. What happens to those photographers who do not play along with AI? 

Someone has defined AI impact as follows: ‘If you use a keyboard in your work, then AI will impact you’. That classification may be quite accurate. 


How do you see the role of artificial intelligence in business transformation and digitalization?

I believe AI will have a growing role in businesses because distilling data in new ways brings unprecedented competitive advantages. Again, who business could afford not to take the internet into use in the 1990s? Or who could have ignored mobility in the 2000’s? 

AI is on exponential growth curve and will trigger multitude of business transformations.


Finland is already one of the leading countries in digitalization. With this boom of AI can in the short/middle term this become a huge advantage for the country?

Companies are global. AI development is utterly global. Generating the best (=huge) LLMs is expensive – China and US data companies are investing billions in AI. Money talks in AI, and Finland is small. 

Finland has its strengths and needs to find its own special silos in the AI world. The advantage comes for those who first find their unique solutions and competitive advantages, whether in Finland or elsewhere. 

What is at this moment the biggest challenge for AI?

The dark side of AI: the creation of fake information, social influencing (manipulating elections), various criminal activities, cyber security attacks, and development of chemical weapons...

The next AI wave may well be AI-enabled DNA programming. “Our company can increase your unborn baby’s IQ to level 150 if you pay us 200k€”. 

AI and ethics are something we all should think of, and make the active decision to work on the bright side of AI.

What are the biggest challenges and opportunities for small businesses when it comes to AI?

The opportunity is to invent and build something nobody else has yet come up with and find one’s competitive unique value spot.

The challenge is to keep up with AI development: now AI tools and innovations come up at a speed that is nearly impossible to follow. You may end up developing an innovation with a big effort – just to find out, that ‘your invention’ had already been published for free use months earlier. 


What are the top 3 starts ups to watch in Finland?

I have no idea. I should ask AI. Hmm, for that, I would need to collect the right data set. “Hey AI, what is the next NVIDIA of Finland … or top three?”

What is your favorite AI tool and why?

My favorite AI tool is MidJourney. I’m a visual thinker, and with generative AI I can do eye-catching illustrations. 

Here’s an example: “Imagine Iceland's waterfalls. Zoom out and add a tourist. Swap my face to the tourist.” See the picture, it took two minutes to do. 

Word of advice

Keep your mind curious. Experiment and learn. 


One book, one person to follow/ that inspires you, and one music?

Daniel Goleman, and his book “Emotional Intelligence”. That’s a book from 1990, and more relevant today than ever. New technologies raise. But the way we people are wired does not change that fast. If we want to change a business, we need to first change how people think and behave. And for that, we need emotional intelligence. 

One music? “Hi google, play my favourite music.” “Here you are, a playlist of TOTO  from Spotify”.

A picture generated with AI. It’s not me in the picture. It’s not from Iceland. But it could be.

picture generated from AI


  • MSc, information technology HUT/Aalto University
  • entrepreneur, co-founder of various startups
  • godfather of AI Monday event series
  • certified change leader
  • public speaker on change, M&As, AI, business transformations

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