Meet Valio’s chief data scientist

If you’re curious about what the emerging era of smart data has to do with the food industry, a great place to learn more is by talking with Valio’s chief data scientist, Markus Virtanen.

He is not only an expert number-cruncher and valued public speaker on the latest trends in smart data – his ‘nerd credentials’ extend far beyond his thought leadership in modern global food sector analytics.

Before joining Valio to lead its data science activities, Virtanen was one of four engineers picked to design the hyperspectral image compression module for Finland’s first-ever space satellite, Aalto-1.

Perhaps even wilder, in his slightly younger days he co-starred in Love & Engineering, a comedy film about – you guessed it – nerds who use advanced analytics to maximize their chances of finding a girlfriend. And of course, no true nerd’s CV is complete without them playing drums in a head-banger band, which Markus still proudly does to this day.

Smart data is smart business

On the more serious side, Virtanen’s main task as chief data scientist is to help guide Valio into a future that is ever-more defined by big data – and the companies who best know how to use data efficiently and effectively, especially in uncertain scenarios. So, what does Markus actually do at Valio? In part, he has helped ensure that Valio is a pioneer among companies in the food sector by leading an overhaul of the ways Valio handles its own data to make it more efficient – and thus more valuable – both now and in the future.

As part of this internal ‘revolution’ he and his team have developed Valio’s Optimus system that both securely archives all Valio data and ensures that it is truly accessible. He is also committed to making

Valio’s company culture truly ‘digitally literate’ by presenting popular ten-hour training workshops for interested colleagues across many departments. As he puts it: “Companies in the food sector need to invest in the long game when it comes to smart data management. A company that is not in control of its data is simply not going to do well in the emerging era of big data.”