Wärtsilä Services goes digital Introduction

Wärtsilä Services goes digital: Introduction

As the global move toward a digital future continues to transform the economy, industry, communication, urban infrastructure and the energy supply, more and more companies around the world are getting on board with digitalisation.

Text: Isabelle Kliger Photo: Wärtsilä

“The digital transformation isn’t an option, it’s a must,” exclaims Mikko Tepponen, Head of Digitalisation at Wärtsilä Services, who compares the change that is being brought about by the rise of digital technologies to the emergence of the steam engine.

“The only decision that you need to make is whether you’d rather be on the side of the guy with the engines or the guy with the horses,” jokes Tepponen.

Digitalisation is often referred to as the fourth industrial revolution. In the late 1700s, the First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to create mechanised production. The Second used electric power to introduce mass production, while the Third used electronics and information technology to automate production. Now, a Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third, using various cutting-edge technologies to blur the lines between the physical and digital worlds.

So, in a world that is changing faster than ever, how does Wärtsilä Services make sure that it is part of it?

According to Tepponen, the answer is twofold: Firstly, development needs to become more customer-centric – responding to known market needs instead of developing services that may or may not prove to be a hit with customer satisfaction – and, secondly, the speed of development needs to increase dramatically.

“Digitalisation is making services easier, faster and more valuable. We want to help our customers grow their business by working with them to create the digital services and solutions that they truly need,” he continues.

The Go Digital Programme, introduced by Wärtsilä Services earlier this spring, will help propel the Wärtsilä organisation into the digital age, encouraging each team to join in and contribute to the digital services of the future.

The programme is defined by three main philosophies, all of which are linked to lean service creation.  The first is “Lean Start Up”, whereby the first step in any new development is always to ask the customers what they want and base the project on those needs. The second is “Design-thinking”, whereby solutions are created based on the identified customer needs and validated with the customer. This loop is repeated as many times as needed until true customer value is found. Finally, “Agile Development” refers to shortening development times and being ready to adapt quickly to any change in market needs.

Tepponen and his colleagues started by reaching out to teams across Wärtsilä, asking them to identify the single most important issue that they needed to solve in the immediate future. This enabled them to identify high-priority areas that had the potential either to improve efficiency or generate new revenue or – ideally – both.

Three projects were selected to start up the Go Digital Programme, all targeting different aspects of the business. The first looks at the digitalisation of field services, while the second seeks to facilitate the order process for customers by integrating their systems with Wärtsilä’s systems. The third project is seeking to boost efficiency in Wärtsilä’s spare parts business.

Tepponen explains that the project teams are working in a way that had never previously been attempted at Wärtsilä.

The Go Digital Programme is comprised of small, co-located teams of people from different parts of the business. These cross-functional, cross-skilled teams consist of individuals who have never previously worked together. To be part of the programme, the requirement is that each team member commits to spend at least half his or her time on the project over a period of three months.

Each team began by contacting their relevant customers and stakeholders and by conducting interviews to find out what their needs were. A concept was then created, for which the project team had to seek approval from both the customers and Wärtsilä senior management, before progressing to the prototype phase.

“By working in this way, we’re ensuring customer buy-in at every step of the way. This increases our chances of achieving our ultimate objective – namely to create something that our customers need and will be willing to pay for,” says Tepponen.

“Go Digital is a culture change, it’s a way of securing our future and making sure we develop the services the market really needs. I’d like to encourage everyone in the organisation to think about how they can become part of this transformation and help build our services for the future.”

Go Digital spring 2016

  • The first three projects in the Go Digital Programme kicked off on 4 April.
  • The demo presentations from the projects are public and available for all Wärtsilä employees to see. Recordings of the presentations will be available in Compass.
  • All three projects were approved on 6 June and will now move into the implementation phase
  • The second round within the Go Digital programme starts in August and the projects are: 1) Next generation Condition Based Maintenance (CBM), 2) Remote Services, 3) Environmental Services and 4) Digital Container.
  • The day-long program at the Wärtsilä Leaders’ Forum in the beginning of June was dedicated to the topic of digitalisation. The target of the event was to create consensus on and commitment to a common way forward in Wärtsilä’s digitalisation efforts.

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