From ideation to integration

From ideation to integration

After two successful hackathons in 2016, new ideas are flowing throughout Wärtsilä. Many of the solutions proposed during the Digisauna and Analytics hackathons are now in the development phase, and some are even live and in use. Twentyfour7. looks at where the projects are now and what the future holds for similar events.

Text: Anna Aistrich Photo: Juha Myllymäki, Johannes Tervo

In April, last year, Wärtsilä hosted its first hackathon event, the Wärtsilä Digisauna, to explore potential new digital solutions. This was followed by an Analytics Hackathon, in November.

The process proved that hackathon is an effective way to condense and accelerate idea and solution generation. Now, about six months to a year later, the follow-up work has been humming along.

At the end of the Digisauna Hackathon, which was a collaborative effort with Salesforce, there were seven different concepts proposed, and two of those have gone all the way into production and are already in use internally.

“I thought it could easily take months before we would be close to seeing how the solutions could go forward. So, it’s pretty remarkable to have several solutions going live so quickly,” says Paavo Kotinurmi, Customer Operation Services’ Manager in Wärtsilä Information Management (IM) and one of the organisers for the Digisauna Hackathon.

The first solution related to complaints handling went live in June 2016. Marine LogTrack followed half a year later, going live in December 2016.

A functionality similar to the winning Digisauna idea, which would allow scanning of business cards to add contacts to a marketing database, is now part of Salesforce Lightning for Energy Solutions. Wärtsilä has been piloting its use for a couple of months, now, and hopes to roll it out to end users soon, predicts Kotinurmi.

A fourth project, on supply-relationship management, is still an active operational development project awaiting approval to continue to the building phase.           

Another proposal was to offer a field service workshop from the Services portal, but Kotinurmi notes that the back end required to support the idea was not there. However, he says, “a different, new feature inspired by this work – allowing customers online access to their Service Work Reports – is now live, and more will be done towards this end in the future.”

The final concept was for customer collaboration through chat. “It was proven to be technically possible and easy to introduce in existing customer centres,” says Kotinurmi, “But, at the time, we had only a few agents, who were not able to respond to the chats 24/7, working in those functions. Now with the expansion of the global support centre to multiple locations, we will work on implementing this solution during 2017.”

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Making miracles happen

For Kotinurmi, the take-away from the Digisauna event was that “we can really perform miracles in 48 hours with the proper support.”

“We can see this hackathon had an effect. Service design and agile development are used more now, and hackathons help further support that. People can see what’s in it for them and how to deliver results and achieve fast-paced prototyping and testing in practice.”

In June this year, Wärtsilä will host a Wärtsilä Salesforce Expo event in Vaasa, Finland, in celebration of its 10-year anniversary using Salesforce, and some of the solutions from Digisauna may be profiled there. “We can now show what is possible with Salesforce as a platform and that solutions can be created quickly,” says Kotinurmi.

“We might also repeat the Digisauna event in the future. If we were to have another hackathon this year, though, we would need to be even faster in taking the solutions all the way. We are still leaning a bit on the traditional way of working so it needs to be a priority to finish developing the ideas, rather than just going back to normal daily routines,” Kotinurmi explains.

But Kotinurmi is hopeful. “Now we have at least 30 change agents exposed to the concept who can help take it forward. What’s more, the fact that we are using all these developments shows that we in Information Management are able to move quickly and have a ‘can-do attitude.’”

“I am very excited to mention that we are now working to establish an acceleration centre around our Salesforce and other core solutions to support our digital transformation with even more agile operations.” 

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Analytics – driving development with data

The idea for an Analytics Hackathon came after the success of the Digisauna event. “Analytics has been a mission or strategy for a long time,” says Tal Katzav, Solution Manager for Data & Analytics Services at Wärtsilä. “So, we thought that bringing in external companies to help and add new perspectives would be a real benefit.”

Katzav and Jarkko Pukkila, Manager, Data & Analytics, coordinated the event, with enthusiastic support from their whole team in organising and staffing the event. The diverse teams participating included innovators, technical experts and accomplished salespeople. Wärtsilä participants came from Finland, Switzerland, Italy, the Netherlands and even the US (Florida), and the vendors brought their own chosen experts. There were experienced professionals with 15-20 years in their fields as well as members of the newest generation of employees for whom this way of working is not so new.

“The biggest challenge was mobilizing the workforce to focus on the hackathon for three days, but people appreciated the time to focus on the task and have the data and experts on hand, all in one place,” Katzav explains. The organizers liken the process to “shaking up a ketchup bottle” so that the ideas can flow out.

Not only did the ideas flow fast and furiously during the event itself, the momentum has carried the projects along quickly, too. Furthermore, Katzav notes, “the whole process has done a lot to promote the role of analytics within Wärtsilä.”

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Promising progress

The first solution to move forward was WePredict, which helps predict the cost of logistics in power plant projects. Given the number of variables involved, bids can be up to 50% inaccurate, leading to either a potential customer refusing the offer or to Wärtsilä losing out on profits. By looking at key parameters, the tool uses statistical modelling based on past project costs to create a more reliable prediction. WePredict is now a complete and fully live solution.

The winning team from the Analytics Hackathon came up with the Intelligent Warranty concept, which earned each of the team members a Suunto sports watch. Although, “it is perhaps the highest hanging fruit,” says Katzav, “it has lots of business potential.” The idea is to collect data on the engines and other equipment to predict possible problems and avoid them, thereby reducing downtime. Currently, the case is proceeding with a few selected new installations as pilot cases, and the data collection and preparation is ongoing.

In Services, the minimum viable product (MVP) for a solution that calculates an Agreement Health Score – an indicator over time on touchpoints with a customer – has been successfully completed. Now the solution will be piloted with a select group before deploying it to a wider audience.

To increase operational efficiency within Wärtsilä’s Global Logistics Sales (WGLS), reduce customer claims on non-conformities and facilitate quick delivery of spare parts, another concept is studying potential risks in the logistics process across the whole supply chain. As this process requires a more thorough review of the data than was possible during the hackathon period, the development has been re-started. The target is to have an MVP by the end of June.

While most of the proposed solutions centred on findings from Wärtsilä’s own data sources, the one called “The Game Changer” aims to find information from external data sources – like market intelligence – to detect potential leads so that sales can get involved in time. The proof of concept is planned but is not yet underway.

The remaining solution still in development, called Proactive Field Service Capacity Management, aims to predict the competences needed for upcoming field service jobs so that the capacity of the personnel can be maximised. This complex process required some more legwork following the hackathon so development was reinitiated, and the goal is to complete a proof of concept by the end of June.                                                                            
Only one project, to optimise spare parts availability, did not continue after the hackathon. But with one already-live solution and two or three more nearing production, this is an impressive track record from only a half-year collaboration.

In Katzav’s opinion, collaborations between different functions that the hackathon facilitated and commitments from the business organisation, drove the process forward.

“The hackathon allowed everyone to feel invested in the working team, regardless of their usual roles or ownership,” says Katzav. “And despite the need for management to be involved at some level, we saw during the hackathon the importance of giving people the freedom to innovate without limitations.”

The best outcome

One successful product of the Analytics Hackathon has been the change in mind-set. Rather than looking retrospectively at issues, investing in solutions that take a proactive approach is more efficient.

“People are getting it because of the success of the hackathon events,” says Katzav. “By developing solutions that increase customer retention and decrease turnover, increase margins and reduce costs, and increase customer satisfaction, we can improve business performance overall.” And that’s a prize that can be shared by everyone.

Read more:

http://www.wartsila.com/twentyfour7/innovation/pizza-and-programming

http://www.wartsila.com/twentyfour7/in-detail/a-pilgrimage-to-hacking-heaven

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