Two rooms open for developing business ideas

Two rooms open for developing business ideas

Bring your ideas, brain and cooperation skills, but leave power-point and laptop outside. In the new IM Acceleration Centre (IMAC) in Vaasa, innovations are created with dialogue and post-it notes.

Text: Johan Svenlin Photo: Johannes Tervo

The acceleration centre in Vaasa hosted a house-warming party in November to celebrate the launch and use of IMAC since October, last year. Jukka Kumpulainen, CIO, gave the opening speech.

“We are in a digital transition with Wärtsilä and the IMAC will be an important tool to digitalise the core and enhance the Digital First mind-set.”

He described the IMAC as a cultural thing, a way of working in order to push business ideas forward in the Ideate–Incubate–Transform–Growth-process. “I have always been impressed with the efficiency in hackathons. The results are often amazing when people get the chance to leave the daily routines outside for a limited time and focus on solving a specific problem together”.

Kumpulainen says the projects in IMAC will be driven in cooperation with Salesforce.

“We see a great opportunity in taking digitalisation forward together with Salesforce, one of the world’s most innovative companies. Their concept is already working and we can learn a lot from their best practices. This is also a way of getting more out of the investment we have made in Salesforce.”

The IMAC in Vaasa will be open for all Wärtsilä’s employees, but it is not meant to become a stationary lab.

“In my vision, we expand this way of working to all departments of Wärtsilä and create pop-up IMACs where ever the customers are.”

  

Solving real problems

The interior of the IMAC is simple. A small set of standard office furniture and a kitchen. The equipment consists of whiteboards, ink pens and post it-notes.

“We avoid computers here. Instead, the main tools are ears and cooperation skills. We listen, think and solve together,” explains Seppo Ronkainen, Development Manager.

He describes the IMAC-method as the opposite of many IT-projects.

“Instead of inventing a new tool and then convincing our customers or users to use it, we focus on existing business problems and solve them together with the users. We mainly focus on our own internal processes and try to improve them for better customer satisfaction.”

Many ideas come through MyDea, Wärtsilä’s own idea management tool. Employees are encouraged to send in their ideas that could speed up the process of digitalisation.

“We have a group of experienced people who evaluate ideas and coordinate with experts for further evaluation,” says Ronkainen.

Four projects have so far reached the incubation phase in the IMAC. One of them aims to create a Wärtsilä search engine for a specific market.

“It’s a tool that helps our sales departments manage enquiries faster, more precisely and in accordance with the needs of the customer,” explains Mårten Nystén, Project Manager and co-owner of the idea together with Janne Laitila.

  

Swimming with sharks

In May 2017, Nystén and Laitila started elaborating their business idea on “Market/ sales tools”. They sent it to MyDea, and in August they were invited to present it in front of Wärtsilä’s Venture Board, a fast lane to get digital ideas further. The presentation was successful. Their project kicked-off in the IMAC in October. If everything goes well the idea will be transformed into a working solution, by the mid-2018.

“But we are not there yet,” acknowledges Nystén. “First we need investors for the next stage of the project, so now we have to succeed in Wärtsilä’s internal Shark Tank. And then there are many technical obstacles to climb before we can roll out the new search tool, the Market Scouter,” he explains.

Nystén enjoys his daily work together with creative and skilful people at the Services’ product development department in Vaasa, but he admits that there is something special in developing an business idea of his own.

“Me and Laitila are very energetic to make this idea come true. It’s a reward in itself to be part of and influence the process.”

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