“Foreca’s growth strategy rests on international B2B business, especially within the digital media, road weather and automotive industries,” says Petri Marjava, Foreca’s Sales Director.
If you have used Microsoft’s software or driven a BMW, in all likelihood you have also benefitted from the work of Finnish weather service company Foreca.
The phone rings only once before Petri Marjava picks up. It quickly transpires he is actually in Germany.
“Just arrived here yesterday,” says Marjava, who works as Foreca’s Sales Director. “We are building up a sales office in Munich.”
The fact that he is abroad should come as no surprise. Internationalization is a no-brainer for any weather service company, and Foreca does not make an exception.
“This is one large leap for us,” he says. “We have had our eyes on Germany for years already.”
Along the path to internationalization, Finpro has been a useful advisor.
“Often the help has been very concrete, coming down to specific things like exhibition arrangements,” Marjava comments.
Digital at heart
When Marjava talks about what it is that Foreca actually does, his excitement is contagious.
“We offer digital weather content for corporate clients globally,” Marjava says, emphasizing the word digital. “Being digital is not always a given in the weather industry. Our background is digital – through and through.”
A second theme Marjava likes to highlight is global.
“Eight out of ten of our new customers are foreign,” Marjava reveals.
That’s an impressive number for a company, which in its home country is mainly known for a consumer weather service. Just check www.foreca.com, it’s one of the most visited sites in Finland – yet another impressive feature for a company that employs around 40 people.
Yes, you read that correctly. Foreca, one of the most recognizable brands in Finland, has less than 50 employees.
Foreca’s global customer base underlines its twofold appearance. In Finland, the aforementioned weather service is the company’s most well-known attribute. Internationally, the focus is on B2B services – the third point that Marjava stresses.
“We serve global companies that have global needs,” Marjava comments. “Our growth strategy rests on international B2B business, especially within the digital media, road weather and automotive industries.”
Forecasting the weather
When one gets the chance to chat with someone who actually understands how weather forecasting works, it’s hard not to ask why it seems so hard to predict the weather accurately. After all, we have all been victims of poorly predicted weather some point in our lives.
According to Marjava, it all comes down to the size of the earth’s atmosphere and its ever-changing nature.
“The atmosphere is chaotic and huge,” he says. “We have a limited number of measurement points and most often they are located close the earth’s surface.”
Considering all the variables in action, it’s actually a small miracle that we enjoy the benefits of accurate weather forecasting.
It’s anything but simple and starts with a boatload of data.
Internationally, only a handful of organizations produce global weather forecast models. You need quite a computation capacity to run a global weather model, so the organizations are mainly publicly funded.
Weather service companies like Foreca work in close cooperation with them, utilizing their raw data.
However, raw data is not nearly enough. Making an accurate weather forecast requires a lot of data processing, like comparisons to historical weather data and creating local high-resolution forecasting models.
Even then, Foreca further enrichens the data with the likes of weather satellite and weather radar data. Moreover, in the future, as the Internet of Things (IoT) gains ground, weather forecasting could also include data from IoT devices such as vehicle sensors. Thus, Foreca is more than interested in the IoT, having active research and development around the issue.
“In the end, it all boils down to one’s capability to make the best possible prediction with the existing data,” Marjava highlights.
Ultimately, that is what Foreca is dedicated to doing.