Taking innovation onto the next level through customer co-creation and close collaboration
Together we’re stronger and achieve even more impressive results. And as the 185X campaign is winding down, we wanted to finish off the anniversary year by showcasing some of our awesome teams. This story is about one of them.
What does it take to develop the first artificial intelligence -based solution in Wärtsilä’s Lifecycle Solutions portfolio?
Customer co-creation, close cooperation with key stakeholders, agile way of working, right mindset and self-directed people, for sure, says Ronald van Miert, Digital Product Owner, heading the Clusterducks team in Wärtsilä’s Digital Product Development organisation. “I firmly believe it was thanks to our self-motivated and empowered people that this team worked and innovated so well together,” he tells.
And the motivation has taken the team far. Team Clusterducks is an agile development team consisting of Ronald van Miert, Roy Klein, Joost Hofstede, Joshua Blokland, Janus Limpt, Robin van Wijngaarden and Yasar Tutuk. This team was part of the larger team (consisting of several sub-teams) who won Wärtsilä’s Technology & Innovation Award in 2019 for the development of the predictive maintenance solution, Wärtsilä Expert Insight. Team Clusterducks was mainly responsible for developing the front-end of the solution, the case collaboration application of Expert Insight, that Wärtsilä Expertise Centre users and Wärtsilä’s customers see on their screens and use for interaction.
“Best part of this development and customer co-creation has been to see how it really improves the collaboration and engagement between Wärtsilä and the customer end-users. Through the collaboration application they can exchange information, follow-up and resolve cases as well as execute better asset management decisions together,” says Ronald.
“It’s great to receive the award as a recognition but the truth is that our work is not solely depending on this team’s vision as the user feedback and other stakeholders’ vision are even more important. It’s the most relevant information we have to update the existing functionalities and to add new ones,” Roy Klein, Senior Developer & Chapter lead in the team, tells.
In addition to the collaboration application and its continuous improvement, the team works closely with other teams within Digital Product Development creating a great overall experience for Wärtsilä’s customers.
Having a lot in common
The development of Expert Insight began approximately one and a half years ago, and the team have quickly established a solid base for their cooperation. Their unique closeness is thanks to teammates’ similar backgrounds and eagerness to combine software developments and the latest analytics with the vast subject matter expertise and knowledge within Wärtsilä. “We’re all software enthusiasts and I guess it comes with a certain lifestyle and mindset,” Roy ponders.
And to understand that mindset, one of course wants to hear some concrete examples.
“Well, in the first months, when the Digital Product Development team was just taking its first steps, we were already known as ‘the skateboarding team’,” Ronald tells cheerfully. And this label resulted from the fact that one of the teammates in Drunen used to come to the office with his skateboard – a vehicle perhaps not that much used among other colleagues.
Regardless of their similar backgrounds, the main reason for these people’s closeness has still been the openness in their team.
“In this team, like overall in Wärtsilä, I appreciate the open culture. We can say what we think, and we get equally transparent treatment from our teammates in return. There’s no blame culture – we succeed or fail together. The management culture makes one feel trusted, and it’s clear we have autonomy to act on things that are in the best interests of the company,” Roy describes.
In addition, the team enjoys that they get to develop real solutions to customers, like Ronald says, “Working on the customer interface makes me feel I’m able to add value personally and that our team has an opportunity to change the business – and there is yet a lot of unlocked potential in digitalising the marine and energy industries.”
Depending on variety
Also, the team’s agile way of working has played an integral part in building the team trust. As they get together every two weeks for planning and retrospectives – to look back and seek for improvement – one feels encouraged and less frightened to try new things.
“When we have regular get-togethers, we can’t go too far in the wrong direction. If you consider what can change in only two weeks, you might think that the changes and improvements we make are small. But when small improvements accumulate over the course of a year it gets significant. It’s a matter of constantly steering the boat to ensure we’re always on the right course despite ever changing conditions,” Roy continues.
On top of these bi-weekly meetings, the team is keen to pick each other’s brains in daily stand-up meetings. “Every morning we hold a short discussion on how to best use the day to move towards our goal. That makes the accountability shared and we support each other’s tasks as they were our own,” Ronald adds on Roy’s thoughts.
Since Wärtsilä Expert Insight was created, as of late 2019, the Clusterducks are part of the larger Digital Product Development team in Wärtsilä Asset Management Services, consisting of several teams and colleagues who were brought together under the same function. Consequently, the Digital Product Development team is now bigger in size and stronger in skills, and it’s crucial to set up the various development teams in a way that spreads capabilities equally.
“When the skills are spread, everybody can carry responsibility from the beginning to the end, being fully accountable for developing and implementing a new functionality of a digital product,” Ronald van Miert describes how people in the team take ownership. This multi-disciplinary team is one of the basic principles of scrum (product development framework) as it represents an agile way of working: the Clusterducks team is continuously adapting and planning ahead, based on changing needs and requirements.
And in the times of digital transformation, the Clusterducks team is especially eager to see the future that for sure will be more digital. But that’s not the whole story. “I see us improving the Wärtsilä experience that our customers feel. The human aspect will continue to be an essential part of it, but I believe we can use digital capabilities to further improve and to make the experience with us more coherent,” Roy ends.
Once more, congratulations to the entire Digital Product Development team for winning Wärtsilä’s Technology & Innovation Award 2019!