Finnish elevator company Kone lifts profits with IoT
Finnish elevator company Kone lifts profits with IoT
Credit: Kone

    Finnish elevator company Kone lifts profits with IoT

    A major theme at this years’ London leg of the Salesforce World Tour was putting the customer first. Decreeing 2017 ‘the age of the customer’, chief marketing officer Simon Mulcahy opened the conference with a focus on customer experience. Internet of Business caught up with one such Salesforce customer, Kone.

    Kone means machine in Finnish, so it will come as no surprise that this company makes its money in the manufacturing sector. Specializing in the manufacture of lifts, escalators, and automated doors, Kone has 52,000 employees, 450,000 customers and posted net sales of €8.8 billion in 2016. Speaking to Internet of Business, however, Simon Green, director, digital platform – Processess & IT, Kone said the company was actually in the business of people flow.

    “Our mission is to improve the flow of urban life. We’re in the business of moving people securely, smoothly and sustainably,” Green said. Two things are driving this, Green told IoB: the increasing move towards urbanization and digitization, both of which mean that business needs to do its bit to ensure cities are sustainable and comfortable to live in.

    In a similar vein to Salesforce, at its latest strategy round in January, Kone decided that its focus would be on “winning with customers”. Green said that this is all about using technological disruption to better connect with customers and deliver new services. Customer expectations of service have changed and customers have more power than ever before. Consequently, Kone has invested heavily in technology from both Salesforce and IBM to improve its offering. “Increasingly the experience is the product,” Green said. “The best driver for growth is a happy customer advocating on your behalf.”

    Connected customer service

    Kone has 1.1 million units in operation every day, all of which need to be kept running safely. The company’s field service engineers make 70,000 maintenance visits a day, and, in a presentation on customer centricity in manufacturing, Green confirmed that Kone could not achieve these numbers without Salesforce.

    Here’s a quick run-down of the technology Kone is using. The company’s physical elevators are being connected to the internet via the IBM Cloud, Bluemix and the IBM Watson IoT platform (for further detail see here). Kone began working with Salesforce in 2006, starting out with the Sales Cloud as its CRM, as well as Service Cloud and Marketing Cloud. As part of an upgrade to its customer service capabilities, Kone has since adopted Salesforce Service Cloud Lightning and Field Service Lightning, rebuilding its entire field service system.

    The agreement covers four areas of field service management: Scheduling and dispatch; field mobility; data asset management; and call centers. Kone is piloting the system this year and hopes to roll the system out across its whole business by 2018.

    Kone is already benefiting from its connected units, however. In the future, this system will enable the live data from Kone’s connected units to flow into the cloud where Watson crunches the data and pushes the insights into the CRM for its 20,000 field service engineers to act upon.

    “[Field service engineers] would know, for instance, that there might be a student residence where the lift is broken and a hospital where a lift is broken, so of course they should go to the hospital first,” Green said.

    Using the mixture of IBM and Salesforce technology, Kone’s engineers can recognize which problem has a more urgent need and the platforms can also be used to predict when units might need maintenance, and which experts are available to service them.

    The upgrade is about moving from having a black box (lift) that is disconnected and field service engineers that are reactive to being more connected, cognitive and predictive. Green admits that Kone still has some way to go to connect all of its 1.1 million devices, but the company is making progress. Soon, Kone will integrate artificial intelligence into the system through Salesforce Einstein “as an augmentation of the field service capabilities” by acting as a guide to the engineer, too.

    Read more: Cisco debuts network switch for IoT devices to make buildings smarter

    Just the beginning

    At the beginning of the year, Kone launched what it calls 24/7 Connected Services. It’s an online feature that enables customers and prospects to visualize real-time information coming from its online units. Pick a location and listen live to Kone’s lift units communicating with one another, for example.

    For those worried about security, Green believes that security has to be right there from the very beginning when connecting any physical objects to the internet. “For us, for many years, we’ve been in the culture of safety first, so security first fits into that,” he said.

    “This is just the beginning,” he added. “When the data is flowing into the platform, when Salesforce is working in the field, then we can do interesting things by co-creating with customers in different sectors to deliver new services.”

    Kone is beginning to deliver its first partner products this year, and has plans to build out its digital ecosystem to, in Green’s words, “increase the velocity of our innovation.”

    It may not be the most glamorous business, on the face of it, but, as Green noted at the beginning of the conversation, the comfortable flow of people in buildings and cities is imperative. And with net sales sitting at €8.8 billion for 2016, it’s clearly big business, too.

    Read more: 9 examples of manufacturers making IIoT work for them