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Connecting technology and strategy through the architecture community at KONE
“I always knew I wanted to get into the world of software ever since I was 10 years old and got my first VIC-20 computer for Christmas.” Back then, there were not too many games available, so he developed his own. That set him on a path of programming during his high school years, moving on to an international career in technology businesses and leading tech teams of different sizes, working in the US, Germany, and Finland.
This is none other than Tommi Raivisto, Chief Technology Architect at KONE. Tommi is tasked with ensuring that KONE’s customer-facing offering and IT solutions are implemented in a future-proof and effective way with an architecture designed for the digital and physical world. Having worked in tech for 25 years, what intrigued Tommi most about KONE was the combination of global new equipment and services business, the ultimate mix of hardware, software, data, and operations on a massive scale. It was what he called a “perfect storm”, the fusion of his interests and his calling to work closer with technology, all packaged into one company.
What you should also know about Tommi is that he is one of the coolest dads out there. Tommi plays the keyboard and sings in an 80s rock band, and their newest bandmate is his son who joined them as a bassist. He is also a trail runner in his free time and his longest competition was 86km. “I’m that middle-aged man trying to run away from death,” he jokes, adding that “I’ve learned I can push far beyond my limits, and that is as much about my body as it is about my mind. I find it so rewarding”
As head of the Architecture Centre of Excellence, Tommi also leads the KONE Architecture community, consisting of experts from different domains.
Building common understanding and architecture across different units
The Architecture community is one of KONE’s largest, with around 60 members globally spanning the software, equipment, and enterprise IT units. It not only brings together architects, but also those interested in the field from the different regions that KONE operates in, including the USA, Italy, India, China, and Finland.
Before Tommi joined KONE, architecture work largely took place on a project or team basis. But with so much expertise, talent, and ideas bottled in isolated teams, Tommi saw massive potential for a company-wide community. Architects have a key role in making customer and business value happen in a sustainable way which cannot happen in silos. He wondered what could happen if we created a space where everyone can talk, exchange ideas, and learn from each other.
A company-wide community would aim to improve the overall architecture capability and build cohesion across different teams and units. And this is how the Architecture community was born.
Today, it enables knowledge sharing, learning, networking, and visibility into what different units are working on, allowing people to always know who to reach out to for help. There are several in-person events each year where the goal is to maximise information sharing and cross-team networking. During these events, people discuss the architecture vision for KONE, share experiences, as well as host clinics to iterate concepts for topics that members bring up. “The key is to take people out of their everyday environment and make sure that people get to spend time together,” Tommi says. “Being in the same space and spending time talking about non-work related things is important because it helps to build trust.”
Tommi says his favourite part about leading the community is the interactions he has with experts from different fields, both junior people with huge potential and proven veterans with a wealth of knowledge. “We share experiences, solve tough problems and sketch new solutions together. It is most rewarding when I can help someone to grow in their role and career. In my career, I’ve led and mentored many exceptionally talented engineers, who have grown tremendously and achieved amazing things. Now I can proudly look up to them and ask for their advice – the tables have turned.”
Pushed to think beyond the scope of your everyday work
Just like with trail running where you need to have a good overview of the distance and the pace you should run in order to sustain your energy over the 86 km route, technology architects must possess a good understanding of the technologies and capabilities a company needs and their linkages to achieve its long-term business goals. One must be able to picture the road to victory in order to reach it.
While many architectural initiatives extend across different units, it is important to establish a way of working that is both cross-functional but also provides relevance to participants working on specific domains like digital services, equipment, and enterprise solutions.
Everyone in the community is encouraged to keep the bigger picture in mind and continuously connect the dots. Fundamentally, it’s about bringing architectural thinking into everything KONE does. “The community is a platform for everyone to develop their competencies. This requires taking a broader view and looking further ahead than people would normally do in their daily jobs”, Tommi states. “Architecture is a lot about taking into account what is good for the entire company and its customers longer term.”
Levelling up the community and driving the architecture culture at KONE
“We are still in the beginning stages. Our future plan for the community is to place more effort on competence development and engagement. This also means providing regular opportunities for people to share their experiences” says Tommi. Based on the feedback, high bandwidth communication peaks during the architecture events, the challenge is maintaining this energy also between events. So the plan is to look at tools and techniques to ensure that interactions remain consistent year-round. Another avenue for development is strengthening local sub-communities for example in China and India.
Connecting the community more with the external world is another development area that Tommi is excited about. Many architects come from roles with limited visibility of the customers and business, which makes it challenging to see the bigger picture. So at community events, when people from the sales frontline and customer support team join to share their learnings, it immediately energises the room. Last year, “we also held an external Tech Meetup on building software architecture to move 1B people every day and it was a great success, so we plan to continue this year”. Tommi believes that with more external customer visibility, this will allow people to see the impact of their work and remind them that “this is why I do what I do.”
The Architecture community at KONE is just one of the communities taking shape; there are also communities for cybersecurity and data experts that offer boundless opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals and learn more about the field. If you’re someone who enjoys working in a large company with complex architectural systems and wants to be exposed to different perspectives and expand their horizons, join KONE as an Architect today!
KONE is a technology leader in the industry: We are on the third generation digital platform, new equipment has connectivity built in, and our predictive maintenance services rely on advanced analytics.