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Talking to CTO Maciej Kranz who joined KONE in July 2019, it’s clear that he lives and breathes KONE’s calling to be deeply collaborative:

“We created this unique physical and digital culture where it’s not us and them, but us and us. It’s a huge competitive advantage, and others in the industry are only just catching up.”

KONE’s journey also speaks to Maciej’s own journey from the Valley to Finland.

Author of the New York Times bestseller Building the Internet of Things and an expert in the field of IoT and digital transformation, Maciej is enjoying collaborating across the organization and setting the collective vision for KONE’s Technology and Innovation (KTI) unit.

Here are some insights on IoT, digital transformation, and the role of KONE and KTI in all this from the expert himself...

Tell us something about yourself: who is Maciej?

“I grew up in Poland and have lived in the San Francisco Bay area for the last three decades.

I basically moved to the Valley in the beginning of the 1990s to be part of this networking internet phenomenon. I have spent most of my time in large companies, as well as a couple of startups.

For the last two decades, I’ve focused specifically on digital transformation; I have worked with a lot of companies implementing digital technologies, mostly in manufacturing, but also in the smart city area.”

Why KONE & what drives you?

On joining KONE, Maciej has a lot of positive things to say about the company and his welcome here; it’s clear that he has found a home where his values are aligned with the company mission:

“One of the reasons I joined KONE was that I felt that this company was very well-positioned to not only transform its own business with its digital + physical integration, but also to transform the industry.

In my professional history, I’ve never looked for jobs – I’ve always looked for missions I can throw myself into 100%. KONE’s mission to improve the flow of urban life spoke to me. It became my mission.

I also love building teams, mentoring people, and helping people exceed their potential, which I get to do a lot of at KONE.”

What makes KONE different?

“First thing: the people flow vision and the focus on urban mobility. The company really wants people to reach their destination with a smile on their faces.

We’re committed to making cities into great places to live, work, and play in; and everyone at KONE recognizes that we have a key role to play here.

And we have exceptional people at KONE to turn this vision into reality.”

What is your vision of digital transformation?

“For me, digital transformation is about seamlessly integrating physical and digital properties and capabilities to provide new experiences, new business models, and new offerings for both our customers and their customers.”

Where does KTI fit in with digital transformation?

“KONE made a bold move five years ago when the KONE Technology & Innovation (KTI) unit was created. It combined physical, digital, R&D & IT together for the first time: something which was very unusual and visionary at the time.

This integrated model works so well because we can simultaneously integrate digital and physical into everything we do: from products and services to our culture and processes.

We just announced the DX class elevators which seamlessly provide digital and physical capabilities in one package, enabling new experiences for our customers and organizations at scale.

We adopted lean and agile ways of working across the digital and physical domains.

You can only do things like that when you have an integrated organization.”

KTI strategic frameworks put into practice

There are four strategic frameworks that underpin KTI’s vision, so we asked Maciej for his take on them all.

Here is what he had to say:

From building products and services to building and partnering on customer-centric solutions
“This is about customer-oriented thinking: we don't just develop our own solutions, we partner with others to develop joint solutions.

No one company can do it alone. You have to partner with other experts and with customers.”

From products (physical or digital) to physical + digital systems
“This is really important, and it ties in with the first point, because systems enable us to build great personalized customer solutions.

Say you're running a hospital, the things you care about are very different to somebody running an office building!

In mixed-use buildings, building use often shifts over the course of two or three decades; our products can adjust as the building use changes from an office building to a residential building, to a hotel, or a combination of all three.

We enable the creation of these different experiences by using systems as the foundation.”

From data tools to data and analytics frameworks and architectures
“There’s this buzzword of ‘data-driven enterprises’, but we genuinely thrive by building frameworks.

We’re implementing an architecture that allows us to use the data that we collect and classify throughout our organization to optimize every aspect of our operations.”

From technology-centric to customer experience-focused innovations
“It’s about our engineers being out there with our customers. Not just about hearing customer requirements directly, but about actually understanding their business and their problems.

As a result of customer-focused innovation we can often anticipate problems or challenges that our customers will experience even before they realize them.”

The future of digital transformation at KONE and beyond

“To be honest at KONE, I am like a kid in a toy store.

For me, digital is a mindset and a way of working.

There is often this misconception that agile development methodology is just for software development, but we are proving that wrong: we are using agile in hardware and software (toolsets, rapid prototyping, customer co-innovation).

This is only possible when organizations work across different domains.”

Interested in what KTI has been up to? Read Asmo Tenhunen’s blog on the DX class elevator project or Sanni Siltanen’s mission on getting more girls excited about tech!