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IT market, Finnish origins, and ChatGPT: Interview with Henri Jääskeläinen, CEO of Polar Night Software

In the middle of Poland, there's a Finnish software house delivering a broad range of services related to the development of digital products and services for companies across multiple industrial domains. 


We invited Polar Night Software to share their story in our latest publication. Towards the end of last year, Tuomas Asunmaa had an insightful conversation with Henri Jääskeläinen, founder & CEO of Polar Night Software.


Source: Polar Night Software

How has the IT market changed over the last year?

I would say the market is tougher, probably for all software development houses in Europe. Most companies are struggling with new sales.


What sectors are generating the most demand at the moment?

Health tech seems to be running a bit better than the market on average, at least based on our experience. We have worked with some health tech companies and have more potential customers on the table. Recently, we also hosted visitors from Renta. Renta has been our customer for quite a while and we have built up strong cooperation with this company. It’s interesting, because they are in the construction business indirectly, but at least this year they've been investing heavily in future development.


What’s the situation on the labor market?

Last year, when we published an ad looking for a developer with a certain profile, we received roughly the same number of applications in a week as we get in an hour or two this year. Plenty of candidates are juniors, which tells me that when tough times come, juniors are the ones who are out first. Seniors may have to look a bit longer for a new job now, but they will still be able to find one. Another thing we’ve noticed is that some product companies from our target market have been doing more in-house recruitments than earlier. However, not everybody wants to do that and many decide to have a core team in-house and also use the help of external consultants.


What about salary expectations?

Not surprisingly, seniors expect senior salaries. The salaries haven’t gone up as significantly as before, but they also haven't dropped. However, I’d say there's a bit more room for negotiation.


You started Polar Night as a software firm serving strictly Finnish companies from Poland. Do you also have customers from other countries?

Yes, our customers still mainly come from Finland, but we also have projects for companies in Estonia and Poland. We have been checking out possibilities on other markets.


Have you had any especially cool projects this year?

One of our interesting new customers is ValueMatcher, one of the Slush TOP 100 2023. It's an early-stage startup that uses AI to match the right candidates for leadership roles.


What makes Polar Night Software different from other IT companies in Poland?

I think it’s helpful that I’m a Finn with years of experience on the Polish market, so I understand the perspective of Finnish customers very well. Other than that, we don’t use any special tricks; we simply make sure that we actually deliver and that our customers are happy with our work. We have around 20 developers in our team, all at mid to senior level with 5+ years of coding experience. We hire people we can trust, and give them a lot of both freedom and responsibility. From January 2024, our average hourly rates will be 55-65 euros. We believe that with reasonable salaries comes the highest quality.


Do you use trendy AI technologies like ChatGPT?

Yes, we have used ChatGPT in our projects. We enter certain data and allow the system to process it, for example, to create summaries. What ChatGPT also does well is create these chat-style interactions that make it seem as if you were actually talking with a human. For internal practice, we developed a bot named Rokko, who is the Polar Bear mascot that comments in discussions on our Slack channels. Generally speaking, in the short term the market expectations regarding AI are probably a bit too high. However, I think that over time people will begin to find more practical applications for it. For instance, in the case of image recognition, technology has existed for years, yet it took time for it to gain widespread attention.


Contact info:

Henri Jääskeläinen



 

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