Aihearkisto: Articles in English

Merging and Collaboration of Educational Institutes: New dimension of Open Innovation

The best use of resources is to share them and build something new. When institutes start to work together for good, rather than competing, innovative miracles can happen.

Authors: Afnan Zafar and Marja Ahola

Why institutes are merging and collaborating more?

Globalisation, internationalisation, innovative approaches towards teaching, improving research quality and competition of available resources in given circumstances direct educational institutes to merge and collaborate (Bartell 2003). Gathering a bigger pool of students and researchers under the same umbrella can really help institutes to use available resources in the best possible way. The bigger bodies are always able to influence society and set a strategic focus that can help everyone (Ripoll-Soler & de-Miguel-Molina 2013). Europe has been observing this trend of university mergers from last decade, and more recently these agreements are speeding up (Estermann & Pruvot 2015).  Collaboration is not something new for European institutes, as universities have been collaborating within their respective countries and the EU with other universities in projects from many years (Bozeman et al. 2012). Many universities even apply for research grants together and work together to deliver final projects. However, the merger is the type of setting that is more complex in which new legal institutes formed and differentiate them from general collaborations (Wohlin et al. 2012).  These mergers always bring several institutions under one umbrella.

The university mergers are a bit different from the commercial cooperate mergers because later, they mainly focus on business aspects. When universities merge, they have to look into the most important factors such revamping the education standards, enhancing the level of research and their role to set the strategic focus of the given area, city or country (Ursin et al. 2010). There are other economic and financial factors also involved, but at the end of the day, the hustle is for better teaching and research results (Aula & Tienari 2011). Another important point of such mergers is to avoid duplication of programs within specific radii from facilities for better utilisation of resources (LAMK 2019). Finally, yet importantly, is the improvement in national and world ranking for their newly formed bigger university. This helps to improve recognition and visibility.

LAB is also not very different from the above-described phenomenon of the merger of educational institutes. The board of LUT universities announced the merger of Lahti University of Applied Sciences and Saimaa University of Applied Sciences into a single entity named LAB, which will start its operation from 1.1.2020. The merger will have campuses of polytechnics in Lahti and Lappeenranta with around 8500 students, and 360 teachers and researchers under a single umbrella of LAB. The focus of LAB, which is the brand name of LUT group of colleges, is to improve Business innovation and working together with companies (LAMK 2019).

What are the open innovation implications when educational institutes collaborate?

The mergers and collaborations provide the share spaced to connect and develop together. It is a step ahead towards more openness towards globalisation and internationalisation (Zafar 2019). Dynamics of such mergers can easily be related to the concept of Open Innovation. Chesbrough first introduced this concept and defined it as combining internal and external ideas as well as internal and external paths to market to advance the development of new technologies (Chesbrough 2003). The close observation of the open innovation concept clearly supports the mergers of schools and universities, if the purpose is to advance the development of new technologies by using external and internal ideas represented by different educational institutes. In this model, collaborating universities, companies and researchers as stakeholders develop new products, services and innovations in an open environment. The way in which these stakeholders overlap and help each other is represented in figure 1.

Figure 1. Representation of stakeholders of LAB (Figure: Afnan Zafar)

How effective can it be to connect and develop a concept for LAB?

LAB will be Finland’s sixth-largest university of applied sciences in terms of the number of students. Covering the huge number of students under a single innovative umbrella itself it a leap ahead, but it will also be the sharing of new ideas on a bigger platform. When research, development and innovation (RDI) staff will connect in the form of LAB then ultimately they are going to develop new products, services, courses, platforms and strong collaboration with industry. This concept is exactly aligned to the concept of “connect and develop” used by Procter & Gamble (P&G), developed during a time when P&G was desperately looking for innovative ideas and new products (Huston & Sakkab 2006, 1-10). Adoption of this concept made the company today around a 67.68 billion USD revenue entity with a net worth of 293.57 billion USD ( 2019). It is also the fact that consumer products based commercial organisation cannot be compared to an educational institute, but the point to ponder is that the concept used by the two of them is to “connect and develop” with one mission which is innovative future growth (Zafar 2019).

Next-generation of the innovative ecosystem of dynamic institutes

There are mixed opinions about the mergers of educational institutes from academia. Some believe that it is a very healthy practice and enhances the possibilities to develop (Estermann and Pruvot 2015). However, there are researchers who believed that a merger is good from a business perspective, but not from an educational viewpoint (Ursin et al. 2010). Nevertheless, the last decade’s results of mergers from EU universities support the first argument with practical positive results. There has been huge growth observed after all major mergers of universities in terms of business, research, teaching and students (Wohlin et al. 2012, 67-73).  The universities, which are merging mainly to develop innovations, can be the key players for future innovative ecosystems. These next-generation innovative ecosystems, in collaboration with industry, can be the powerhouse of innovations (Bozeman et al. 2012).


The purpose of this article is to observe the upcoming LAB formation from the lens of the open innovation concept. The overall analysis shows that this merger is very close and similar to open innovation, connection and development, concepts. The utilisation of internal and external resources of two institutes to develop new technologies, products and innovations is providing open space for RDI teams. Internationalisation and openness is the future of research, which needs strong national players to contribute. These mergers are providing a strong base and starting point for the internationalisation of RDI and attract more international students and staff. 


Aula, H. and Tienari, J. 2011. Becoming “world‐class”? Reputation‐building in a university merger. Critical perspectives on international business. Vol. 7(1), 7-29. [Cited 25 Aug 2019]. Available at:

Bartell, M. 2003. Internationalization of universities: A university culture-based framework. Higher Education. Vol. 45 (1), 43–70. [Cited 27 Aug 2019]. . Available at:

Bozeman, B., Fay, D. and Slade, C. 2012. Research collaboration in universities and academic entrepreneurship: the-state-of-the-art. The Journal of Technology Transfer. Vol. 38(1), 1-67. [Cited 28 Aug 2019]. Available at:

Chesbrough, H. 2003. Open innovation. The new imperative for creating and profiting from technology. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Estermann, T. and Pruvot, E. 2015. The Rise of University Mergers in Europe. International Higher Education. (82), 12. [Cited 27 Aug 2019]. Available at:

Huston, L and Sakkab, N. 2006. Connect and Develop: Inside Procter & Gamble’s New Model for Innovation. Harvard Business Review. March 2006, 1-10. [Cited 25 Aug 2019]. Available at:

LAMK. 2019. Boards decide on merger of LAMK and SAIMIA. [Cited 24 Aug 2019]. Available at: 2019. Procter & Gamble Net Worth 2006-2019. [Cited 27 Aug 2019]. Available at:

Ripoll-Soler, C. and de-Miguel-Molina, M. 2013. Are mergers a win-win strategic model? A content analysis of inter-institutional collaboration between higher education institutions. Tertiary Education and Management. Vol. 20(1), 44-56. [Cited 25 Aug 2019]. Available at:

Ursin, J., Aittola, H., Henderson, C. and Välimaa, J. 2010. Is Education Getting Lost in University Mergers? Tertiary Education and Management. Vol. 16(4), 327-340. [Cited 24 Aug 2019]. Available at:

Wohlin, C., Aurum, A., Angelis, L., Phillips, L., Dittrich, Y., Gorschek, T., Grahn, H., Henningsson, K., Kagstrom, S., Low, G., Rovegard, P., Tomaszewski, P., van Toorn, C. and Winter, J. 2012. The Success Factors Powering Industry-Academia Collaboration. IEEE Software. Vol. 29(2), 67-73. [Cited 26 Aug 2019]. Available at:

Zafar, A. 2019. The Outsourcing Innovation Paradox: A Company’s Growth Option or a Risk to R&D Capabilities. Doctoral dissertation. University of Vaasa, School of Technology and innovations. Vaasa. Acta Wasaensia, 418. [Cited 25 Aug 2019]. Available at:


Afnan Zafar, Ph.D., works as a research fellow at the University of Vaasa, Finland and as a private research consultant. His areas of expertise are innovative solutions, innovative product and service development, brain drain problems and its solutions in developed countries.

Marja Ahola, MA, works as an RDI expert at Lahti University of Applied Sciences, as an expert in entrepreneurship education for highly educated immigrants (Kokoma ESF) and as a project manager in the Ossi 2 – Skills for a Work project.

Illustration: (CC0)

Published 9.9.2019

Reference to this publication

Ahola, M. & Zafar, A. 2019. Merging and Collaboration of Educational Institutes: New dimension of Open Innovation. LAMK Pro. [Cited and date of citation]. Available at:

A comprehensive investigation of local food systems in the Baltic Sea Region

Growing a business and operating sustainably in an ever-competitive landscape is a challenge well known to micro business owners and entrepreneurs in any business sector. Within the spectrum of alternative local food systems (LFS) challenges and opportunities are unique. The Baltic Sea Food project was initiated to investigate these LFS, build and pilot business models for them, and simultaneously promote awareness of local food in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). The following article presents the research project and takes a look at the feasibility of implementing the recommendations.

Authors: Lydia Rusanen & Brett Fifield

Baltic Sea Food Project

The EU and Interreg funded Baltic Sea Food Project was initiated with the aim to optimize the B2B performance of local producers within the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). The action points included, undertaking in-depth research across ten countries, formulating workable business models from the findings, piloting the business models, and promoting awareness of local food through workshops and promotion of business opportunities to networks and other local food representatives. (Interreg Baltic Sea Region 2017.) The thesis upon which this article is based, deals with work package two of four, undertaking the research stage of the project (Rusanen 2019).

Local Food Systems: Development opportunities

Local food systems (LFS) are alternatives to the mainstream, high yield focused, food systems, that in recent years have come under criticism for their unsustainable methods, negative environment and social impacts, and lack of support for local economies. LFS can be defined in a number of ways. According to most consumers, LFS are understood to be providers of food grown using sustainable and often organic methods, within a close geographical proximity to where it is sold. Additionally, they should support the local community, building close relationship between producers and consumers. (Roy 2006, 9-12.)

Producers within LFS face unique challenges exacerbated by their lack of business knowledge and financial resources. These challenges include connecting with B2B buyers and building mutually beneficial relationships with them, finding economical distribution channels that can meet the needs of B2B customers, and complying with the stringent and continually evolving regulations. Regulatory control extends to all areas of the business, in particular, labelling of products, food hygiene safety, and transportation requirements. These challenges represent significant opportunities for growth.

A fundamental part of value chain in LFS is the origin of the food, the story behind it is the intrinsic value. This justifies the comparably higher price of local foods. Blockchain is an emerging technology that optimizes this. It is a decentralized, chronologically recorded chain of transactions, a secure system that promises to replace the middlemen in multiple business situations. Blockchain is already being used in food systems for optimizing delivery routes, whilst sending real time location updates to buyers and sellers. It also replacing the costly and time-consuming certification processes for proof of origin, organic labels and food hygiene. Additionally, instant tracking of source in cases of outbreaks is realised. (Crawford 2018.)

Research methods

The research was implemented using a multiple case study strategy with data collection taking the form of surveys for quantitative data and focus groups and interviews for qualitative data. Stakeholders across all ten countries were included in the research.

The first phase of data collection comprised of two versions of an electronic survey, one for completion by the distributors and the other by the networks. The surveys themselves were translated into the ten local languages and made available on the webropol service. In the second phase of data collection, stakeholders took part in semi structured interviews or focus groups, covering five key themes; pricing, distribution, communication, ordering, and future challenges.

The Business Model Canvas by Osterwalder & Pigneur (Osterwalder 2004) ) was used to bring the results together and develop a scalable business model that would be piloted in the ten countries.

Research Findings

The research unearthed a vast amount of information, from which business models could be drawn up, implemented, and finally tested. The outcome of the research thesis itself was a hybrid BMC aimed towards producers within the BSF (Rusanen 2019, 77). As producers become more integrated and grow within the local food networks, they can turn to the BMC to gain a better understanding of the factors that should be considered as they grow. An interesting and important recommendation that effects all parts of the business model is that of building an e-platform upon blockchain technology. The question that arises at this point is, how feasible is the integration of this technology system into existing e-platforms.

The research indicated that many forms of e-platforms are being used throughout the BSR. These platforms vary in the way they have been implemented and used, some are government run platforms, others are privately run, for profit businesses. Not all platforms are used for ordering and payments. The key element is that the platforms are region wide, in other words they allow access to all LFS stakeholders within the local region.

Moving forward to implementation

Ultimately, the study answered the research questions and additionally presented a recommended best-case scenario situation for LFS. In theory, implementing the recommendations promises great gains for all members of the value chain. However, in practice, making such changes to existing systems is less than straightforward. The producers who are at the core of this change, typically face barriers such as time constraints, lack of business knowledge, and lack of financial resources. Some LFS whose capacity is too small to warrant expansion might also resist implementation of the recommendations. It is clear that support is needed from government sources in order to ensure producers are receiving sound business advice along with tools for pricing and marketing their products.

Figure 1. Best-case scenario (Figure by Lydia Rusanen)

The best-case scenario shown in image 1 was based on an e-platform run using blockchain technology, however, EU funding is needed to initiate its use and help producers and distributors make the changes to their existing practices so that they can fit in to the blockchain system.

There is a real risk that the recommendations made will not be implemented if this ground work is not laid. If sustainability and security is sought after by EU policy, it might be necessary to consider incentives for local stakeholders to follow this route. Especially if the initial investment is a trade-off with profit.

Undeniably sustainability and blockchain are two trends that promise to take the business world by storm in the coming decade. LFS are part of a growing environmental movement and rather than focus on well known, age-old systems, the way needs to be paved for smarter technology.


Crawford, E. 2018. From 7 Days to 2 Seconds: Blockchain Can Help Speed Trace-back, Improve Food Safety and Reduce Waste. [Cited 13 Nov 2018] . Available at:

Interreg Baltic Sea Region. 2017. Baltic Sea Food Application Form.

Osterwalder, A. 2004. The Business Model Ontology: A Proposition In A Design Science Approach. PHD Thesis. Universite de Lausanne. [Cited 13 Nov 2018]. Available at:

Roy, H. 2016. The Role of Local Food in Restaurants: A Comparison Between Restaurants and Chefs in Vancouver, Canada and Christchurch, New Zealand. PHD Thesis. University of Canterbury. Christchurch. [Cited 23 Oct 2018]. Available at:

Rusanen, L. 2019. Sustainable B2B Business Models for Local Food in The Baltic Sea Region. Bachelor’s Thesis. Lahti University of Applied Sciences. Lahti. [Cited 16 May 2019]. Available at:


Lydia Rusanen has studied Business and Administration at The Faculty of Business and Hospitality Management at Lahti University of Applied Sciences and has graduated and received a BBA degree in May 2019.

Brett Fifield has been actively involved in developing Business Schools for the Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences since 1994. Most recently he has been responsible for courses in Futures and Strategies, Innovation and Creativity, Digital Services and Leadership and Management of Projects in Distributed Organizations in Lahti University of Applied Sciences.

Illustration: (CC0)

Published 9.9.2019

Reference to this publication

Rusanen, L. & Fifield, B. 2019. A comprehensive investigation of local food systems in the Baltic Sea Region. LAMK Pro. [Cited and date of citation]. Available at:

How to digitalize spare part business

How to digitalize spare part business As the world is moving more and more towards digitalization around us, the common question which raises in Business as well is: how can we also turn our processes to digitalized ones? One interesting area is digitalization of spare parts business. This article is concentrating on spare part business in the perspective of Small and Medium size Enterprise (SME) and to be even more precise, complex parts made from metal.  

Authors: Janne Kousa and Brett Fifield  

Problem space explained

Imagine that your company is in process industry manufacturing with regularly spare parts sales to end customers. These parts have low volume, and relatively low turnover but long lead time.  

Because of this, one must decide on keeping several items in stock or produce the parts in made to order basis. For a small company large inventory is not cost-effective solution and on the other hand, delivery time for single made to order part may be several weeks.  

The interesting aspect is part is criticality, it may even stop the production and create huge costs when the process is not running. In this case, the price for single spare part may become neglectable instead of delivery time that can be promised to the customer.  

So the key questions are:  

– How to offer good spare part delivery times for several products while maintaining cost-effectivity?  

– How to provide spare parts in an emergency situation?  

– How to handle inventories in long term  

Solution proposal by 3D printing  

Let’s assume the following happens:  

1. Customer sends request for emergency spare part and states that their production has stopped causing 10 000€ /day direct loss until they get the needed spare part  

2. Your company finds the correct spare part item and sends an emergency order to selected 3D printing supplier near the customer  

3. 3D printing provider receives 3D file of the part with necessary instructions and is able to start the manufacturing process within 2 hours time  

4. Spare part is 3D printed overnight, packed and shipped with expedited method to end customer who receives it in 24 hours and loses only one day’s production instead of having to wait for one-week express manufacturing and delivery by traditional methods  

Naturally this emergency process generates more costs than traditional manufacturing, but if the part is critical due to the end customer’s process, doubling or tripling the part cost may be neglectable compared to costs when processes are stopped. (Kousa 2019)  

According to Kousa (2019), the digitalization of spare parts business can reduce money tied up to spare part inventory drastically. If the manufacturing is done either near OEM or near the customer by on- demand basis, the delivery times can be reached to good level without keeping any parts in stock.  

Figure 1. Delivery time reduction explained by distributed 3D printing process (Kousa 2019)  

Main findings  

Digital spare parts process requires that all the necessary data is in 3D- file format, as first requirement. The next requirement is to create the manufacturing process for 3D printing. Easiest way to get started is to find a suitable partner who has enough knowledge about printing possibilities and cost structure to see which are parts are suitable for printing in general. (Kousa 2019)  

Part screening process (finding printable parts) is usually the first step which the company faces when thinking about 3D printing. Not all parts are directly suitable for 3D printing and there may very well be some obstacles ahead when finding spare parts that are both mechanically and businesswise suitable. (Kousa 2019)  

At first it may seem that there is very limited amount of printable parts, but it is clear that 3D printing technology is evolving all the time, costs are coming down and new methods are introduced so what might not work today, does not mean that could not work in the future. (Kousa 2019)  

The important message is that without trying 3D printing as new alternative manufacturing process, it is impossible see the possibilities that this technology may provide now and in the future.  

Possibilities for new business concepts  

Previously mentioned partnering option for digital manufacturing chain offers a possibility for companies to enter 3D printing business as operators. This kind of operation can be at first local small-scale business but is scalable to global operating model as well. The distributed model can be seen as combined local and global concept.  

Solution could be that a partner starts to offer first local service to printing only, then begin handling also the file processing, and in the end moving to fully digital manufacturing chain so that the OEM only forwards the order to an operator who delivers the part to the end user. This model could be even expanded into franchising model where service owner offers client base and local entrepreneurs handle the business branches by their own private companies.  

Most extreme step is the OEM only selling user rights to data, practically allowing access to online spare part repository that the end user (or partner) utilizes to print their spare parts. By this, the whole transaction can happen in seconds creating revenue in a fraction of time compared to traditional order-delivery process.  

If OEM would one day move to offering production capacity as service, on time spare parts would be in key role to keep uptimes high. In this case 3D printing could be used as a tool for critical part manufacturing.  

Future research  

Upon the findings of this article the most interesting research question businesswise would be:  

– Data integrity when moving to completely digital spare parts process, including possibilities of Blockchain for example to protect IPR  

– Outsourcing whole spare parts concept to 3rd party – digitalizing the whole sales to order- workflow so that the OEM only sells rights to use the digital spare parts data  

– Spare part repository concept in general, OEM’s centralized database for spare part data or distributed accessible data which is then protected by user rights (such as Spotify or Netflix) and charged by royalty fees  

– Spare part concepts and their feasibility businesswise, comparing partnering in part manufacturing, complete equipment leasing with service functions and turn-key offering of production capacity including labor  

For small companies the above questions may be still quite far ahead, but for larger companies they may offer new possibilities to enhance the spare parts business towards completely digital one and by that to streamline processes, reduce single transaction costs and offer new kind of customer experience for ordering spare parts.  


Kousa J. 2019. How to digitalize spare parts business. Master’s Thesis. Lahti University of Applied Sciences, Masters Degree Program in International Business Management. Lahti. [Cited 15 May 2019]. Available at:  


Janne Kousa has completed a master’s in International Business Management Degree program in 2019.

Mr. Fifield has been actively involved in developing Business Schools for the Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences since 1994. Most recently he has been responsible courses in Futures and Strategies, Innovation and Creativity, Digital Services and Leadership and Management of Projects in Distributed Organizations. 

Illustration: (CC0)

Published 2.9.2019

Reference to this publication

Kousa, J. & Fifield, B. 2019. How to digitalize spare part business. LAMK Pro.
LAMK Pro. [Cited and date of citation]. Available at:

Using a signature instead of a password

In a world full of electronic systems, there is a need to prevent the unauthorized users from accessing protected data. Various ways of authentication are used, passwords being the most ubiquitous.

Authors: Abdelwakil Bouljoub and Aki Vainio

What is the problem with traditional passwords?

Traditional passwords are sequences of characters. Various organizations have their own guidelines and rules, often based on earlier recommendations from NIST, which have since been completely redone (Grassi, et al. 2017). However, passwords are problematic. Often the passwords that follow the official guidelines are hard to remember or the users avoid these memory issues by not following the guidelines or by finding the most trivial way to follow them, leaving their passwords weak (Munroe 2011). They are hard for the user, but easy to break with the ever-advancing technology we have access to (Munroe 2011).

As passwords continue to present problems, many organizations are trying to move away from them. For instance, W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) in collaboration with FIDO Alliance finalized a web standard for what they called Passwordless Logins that recommend a standard for browsers to let users log into their account using other options (W3C 2019). FIDO Alliance is an industry association that aims to develop authentication standards, which boasts many of the leading technology companies in the world as its members. FIDO recommends the use of alternative authentication methods, such as biometrics.

The trend to abolish the use of passwords has commercial implications. Integrating biometrics or other authentication methods into systems requires new software and often hardware components. (Bouljoub 2019.)

What are biometrics and how are they used for authentication?

Biometrics refer to the information about someone’s body. There are many domains of biometrics usage, such as forensics science and crime investigations, but with the advance of technology, biometrics can be used to extract repeatable biometric features for biometric-based authentication.

In fact, we have many features in our bodies that differentiate us from each other. The Biometrics Institute, an independent non-profit organization, has categorized biometrics as illustrated in figure 1.

Figure 1. Biometrics types (compiled from Biometrics Institute 2019)

Apple, for example, introduced the Face ID feature in iPhone X (Schiller 2017). It is a feature that gives to the user the option to unlock the phone by using the face recognition method. At the same time, Samsung used a similar feature on Galaxy Not 8, but in addition, Samsung added the iris recognition feature as well (Samsung 2019). Many other companies are using different types of biometric to provide a solution to plenty of domains such as security surveillance.

Not all biometrics have been proven to be unique from one person to another. The idea of the uniqueness of biometrics is based in most cases on the low probability of the existence of similar biometric information on two different individuals. Joanna Stern a columnist in Wall Street Journal tried the face recognition feature in iPhone X with identical twins and the system fail to distinguish between them (Stern 2017).

Biometrics are problematic

Most of the reviews that have been conducted on the topic of biometrics are looking for which solution is most secure against hacking attempts, but simply being secure is not enough. Instead, using biometrics presents its own set of problems.

The data used in biometrics can be used for other purposes as well. In China, for example, biometric data is being used by law enforcement which raises a serious concern about user privacy. Many people are not sure if the biometric data collected by companies is stored safely and it won’t be used for other purposes.

The second reason is related to the fact that biometrics are unchangeable. Although this could be considered an advantage because a user doesn’t need to remember any specific information when using a biometric-based authentication, it is also a big disadvantage in case something happens to the integrity of the stored data which could render a certain biometric useless.

The exposed nature of biometrics is another issue, especially the most used one. For instance, face, eye and fingerprints are almost public for others and it could be a burden to protect them from copying or forging. Is true that Apple claims that its Face ID feature is strong enough against attempt of using a person’s image or even a person’s 3D-printed face, but the feature can’t tell if the user scan intentionally his face in purpose to unlock the phone or someone else is doing that under certain circumstances. (Fysi Tech 2017.)

There is also the question of practicality. No-one wants to conduct a DNA or gait analysis each time they login onto their phones.

Signatures as authentication method

The methods for using signatures as a method of authentication are still being developed, but signatures are one possible solution for the various challenges. What makes a signature-based method strong is not only the visible result, but the actual metrizable habit of writing that signature, including the rhythm and pressure impacted while writing, which are impossible to replicate (Huber & Headrick 1999).

The signature doesn’t invade user privacy. A signature doesn’t reveal if the person is a male, female, young, old or from a specific ethnicity. That minimizes the chance of using the signature as a tool to track individuals using biometric information provided by themselves (for example, Xie 2019).

A signature used for the authentication is stored in the same manner as the data for other biometrics methods. However, a person could change the appearance of the signature whenever the stored one becomes compromised.

In contrast to other biometric types, a signature is an act that requires an intention and a conscious effort from the person. It is not possible to get a person’s signature without that person being informed. The reason why signatures are not used widely as a method of authentication could be related to usability. For example, biometrics such as fingerprints are more relevant to smartphone’s usage. To unlock a phone by signature might take longer than the time needed to unlock it with a face recognition feature. In many cases, using signatures also requires dedicated hardware.


No one can steal a signature, your signature is with you everywhere and, in contrast to other biometrics methods, signature doesn’t require you to take a selfie each time you want to check your notifications. Furthermore, the biometrics and recognition methods are an active research field that it is evolving rapidly, and it has many advantages that encourage their use in several aspects of our daily life to improve security and reduce the traits of data security that are becoming a serious issue.


Biometrics Institute. 2019. Types of Biometrics. [cited 11 Jun 2019]. Available at:

Bouljoub, A. 2019. Electronic signature for authentication. Bachelor’s thesis. Lahti University of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Business and Hospitality. Lahti. [cited 14 Jun 2019]. Available at:

Fysi Tech. 2017. iPhone x FACE ID Experimental Video While Sleeping. [cited 11 Jun 2019]. Available at:

Grassi, P., Fenton, J., Newton, E., Perlner, R, Regenscheid, A., Burr, W., Richer, J., Lefkovitz, N., Danker, J., Choong, Y.-Y., Greene, K. & Theoganos, M. 2017. NIST Special Publication 800-63B – Digital Identity Guidelines. NIST. [cited 11 Jun 2019]. Available at:

Huber, R. & Headrick, A. 1999. Handwriting Identification: Facts and Fundamentals. CRC Press LLC. Boca Raton. USA.

Munroe, R. 2011. Password Strength. XKCD. [cited 11 Jun 2019]. Available at:

Samsung. 2019. Security. [cited 11 Jun 2019]. Available at:

Schiller, P. 2017. Face ID on iPhone X. Video. [cited 5 Jun 2019]. Available at:

Stern, J. 2017. iPhone X Review: Testing (and Tricking) FaceID. Wall Street Journal. Video. [cited 5 June 2019]. Available at:

W3C. 2019. W3C and FIDO Alliance Finalize Web Standard for Secure, Passwordless Logins. [cited 11 Jun 2019]. Available at:

Xie, E. 2019. China working on data privacy law but enforcement is a stumbling block. South China Morning Post. [cited 14 Jun 2019]. Available at:


Abdelwakil Bouljoub is close to the end of his bachelor’s studies in Business Information Technology at Lahti University of Applied Sciences.

Aki Vainio is a senior lecturer of Information Technology at Lahti University of Applied Sciences.

Illustration: (CC0)

Published 17.6.2019

Reference to this publication

Bouljoub, A. & Vainio, A. 2019. Using a signature instead of a password. LAMK Pro.
LAMK Pro. [Cited and date of citation]. Available at:

How to raise brand awareness using Inbound Marketing

Living in a period of constant and inevitable changes we can’t help but observe how fast new trends replace each other. Most companies used to think that the message had to be pushed in order to attract customers and make them want to buy their products. This very approach is called “outbound” marketing. However, shopping habits have changed, and the outbound approach has become no longer effective for the purpose of building brand awareness. Instead, a new “inbound” approach took over a place and transformed the holistic thinking of how marketing activities should be performed.

Authors: Elizaveta Popova and Marja Viljanen

Inbound marketing approach

The term Inbound Marketing was introduced by the developer of software products for marketing, HubSpot, and was defined as a method of attracting, engaging and delighting buyers to make the business grow and build customer loyalty. (HubSpot 2019.) The inbound marketing approach can be shown through a set of stages which forms an inbound marketing methodology. According to this methodology, before a buyer makes a purchase, they should go through certain phases from being random strangers towards becoming brand´s promoters. (Bezovski 2015.)

Figure 1. Inbound marketing methodology (Hubspot 2019)

The inbound methodology includes four stages: “attract”, “convert”, “close” and “delight”. At the “attract stage a company makes the first impression on its website to turn a sudden stranger into a regular visitor. To reach this goal, a company has to be active in social media, incorporate ads and content marketing to be able to demonstrate value to a visitor. At the next, “convert” stage, the visitor turns into a lead. This is particularly important for the B2B business as at this stage the company collects customer data to perform a lead analysis. At this phase, a company has to make sure that the website works well, and all landing pages are optimized according to SEO parameters. The lead then turns into a customer at the “close” stage. This stage defines the level of potentiality of the lead. It is essential to use lead scoring tools to identify the quality of the lead and decide whether it is worth taking over this lead or not. The final and the most important phase is delightas there is an opportunity to get more out of the deal. By enforcing more targeted social media and newsletters campaigns, and actively engaging with customers, the company provides additional value and makes customers delighted enough to be willing to share their experience with others. (Lam 2018.) 

Besides high cost-efficiency, sophisticated algorithms used in inbound marketing help to process better customer data and discover the proper type of advertising and make targeting process much easier. In the long run, the pull approach facilitates raising brand awareness and increasing the company’s sales by building a long-term inbound marketing strategy. (Expert journal of Marketing 2015.)

How to apply inbound marketing for B2B sales in Russia?

Russian market presents a rich export area with high consumer demand for foreign products. In order to understand what inbound marketing tools a B2B company could apply to this market, the case company research was conducted. The company under research was a Finnish company operating in several export markets including Russia. The study involved interviews with the company’s employees in the Russian offices. It turned out that basic tools used in inbound marketing would present a solution for the company´s business in Russia. The staff expressed the need to optimize SEO and integrate CRM tools to manage customer data. All interviewers also agreed that active social media presence is highly needed. Based on the statement that most of their customers mainly use Facebook and Instagram, it was rational to assume that starting points would be putting the efforts on starting social media campaigns on these platforms. (Popova 2019.)

In terms of Internet usage, Russia occupies seventh place in the ranking of Internet usage with almost 110 million online users (Viunova 2018). Based on these numbers it can be concluded that the Internet is a good platform for marketers to demonstrate and sell companies’ products and services. Pulling B2B customers in, of course, presents a challenge as they are more demanding and selective about how they are willing to engage with companies. (Chaffey & Smith 2017, 9.) However, by keeping up with the latest consumer trends, a business can stay at the front line. Speaking of Russia, it is important to follow the common trends and also adjust to country specifics. To name some trends, video content takes 75% traffic on the Russian Internet arena thus it can be a handy tool for B2B company to showcase their products. Face-to-face communication is also highly important that is why combining offline/online marketing is necessary. Language is another factor that influences customer decision. It is essential to keep the conversation and provide online content in the Russian language. (Viunova 2018.)

Since inbound marketing does not focus only on digital activities it is important to remember that standard sales procedures play an important part at each stage of the inbound approach. Combining them all would facilitate the sales work and increase brand awareness by not only offering good service but also engaging with a customer even in the post-deal period. The best way to implement inbound marketing is to build an easily-integrated plan which would involve the combination of online and physical marketing activities. By these means, the company will attract more quality leads, trigger a sales growth and raise overall brand awareness on the market.


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Chaffey, D. & Smith P. 2017. Digital marketing excellence. 5th edition. New York: Routledge.

Expert journal of marketing 2015. A new development in online marketing: introducing digital inbound marketing. [cited 13 Feb 2019]. Available at:

Hubspot 2019. What is inbound marketing? [cited 14 Feb 2019]. Available at:

Lam, A. 2018. What does inbound mean? A comprehensive guide to the inbound marketing funnel. Responsify. [cited 13 Feb 2019]. Available at:

Popova, E. 2019. Raising brand awareness through inbound marketing in b2b sales on the Russian market. Bachelor Thesis. Lahti University of Applied Sciences, Business Administration. Lahti. [cited 26 May 2019]. Available at:

Viunova, O. 2018. Marketing trends in Russia and abroad. Young scientist. [cited 12 Mar 2019]. Available at:


Elizaveta Popova graduated from the Faculty of Business and Hospitality Management at Lahti University of Applied Sciences and received a BBA degree in International Business on June 20, 2019.

Marja Viljanen is a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Business and Hospitality Management at Lahti University of Applied Sciences.

Illustration: (CC0)

Published 10.6.2019

Reference to this publication

Popova, E. & Viljanen, M. 2019. How to raise brand awareness using Inbound Marketing. LAMK Pro. [Cited and date of citation]. Available at: