The eyes and ears of data at KONE

Have you ever seen a Flamenco dance performed to classic rock songs such as “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin or Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”? For me, the combination of clapping, percussive footwork and body movement with powerful American rock songs embodies my passion for dance and music. As much as I enjoy dancing Flamenco, my other passion is for data.

The eyes and ears of data at KONE


My name is Maija Nikula and I am the Chief Data Officer here at KONE.

I have always worked in large-scale companies for one reason: diversity, and KONE is no exception. I chose KONE for its diverse possibilities, the diversity in its business lines, in its globality, its spectrum of responsibilities, and diversity in its humanity. In my role, I get to work with everyone at KONE; yes my team and I deal directly or indirectly with 60,000 employees from 60 different countries. I get to interact with people from all over the world and I love it! Let me explain how it is possible to work with such an extensive set of people.

The eyes and ears of data at KONE

The eyes and ears of data at KONE

Define and drive is our motto

At KONE, our core global data management team of 10 employees is part of the Centres Of Excellence (CoE) and we work both in community and line-organization mode. Because of the nature and the extent of our work, we have separated the cake into many layers to better serve data collection and protection on a global level here at KONE. Several key business stakeholders help us define and drive the data processes in all the business areas. We also have people in various centralized services helping us ensure the quality and data fitness of our data assets.

In addition, my team is currently working on establishing a new internal cross-KONE team of unit data managers to help us see and foresee the local challenges and provide timely feedback in each location. So in this sense, we have three groups of people amounting to hundreds of employees supporting, defining, and driving forward the data at KONE.


The eyes and ears of data at KONE

A three-layered cake

Our key goal is to ensure fabulously accurate and high-quality data right across KONE. Indeed, 80% of our work is directed at preventing the creation of bad-quality data. We are moving towards an approach of avoiding cleaning the data by focusing more on prevention instead. On the other side, 20% of our work is on democratizing while protecting the data. We ensure data access and retention rules are properly followed internally.

To achieve these tasks we look at data in layers: strategic, tactical, and operational. It is a little academic, but bear with me, it is interesting!

Firstly, on the strategic layer, we ensure that everyone at KONE is compliant with the rules and practices around data: What to collect and how, what to share and not share, and when data should be retained or erased. We need to make sure all employees are collecting the right data on our equipment, customers, contacts, buildings, suppliers, leads, and orders. In the end, we participate in making our business as lean as possible by pointing out what or how we should automate, or when humans need to be part of the data-creation process.

Secondly, the tactical layer is related to the processes and ways of working and how we run our business in R&D, sales, marketing, delivery, sourcing, and finances - basically in each area at KONE. We assess our data behaviours and suggest changes. I believe that data management is strongly related to the business ways of working and thus it is very much about change management.

Thirdly, the operational layer is related to the human aspect of data interaction. The fingers on the keyboard; you and I. Even if we write picture-perfect definitions and processes, we people are the owners of our data, we are responsible for sharing the right information. On a company level, it gets very complicated because human minds need to understand the reason for creating the data. We need to explain why to collect certain data in a certain manner, we need to find the “what’s in it for me” reasons. And if there is no clear benefit for the end-user we come back to automation, to make the world so easy for users that they don’t have to think about data collection. We can use external data sourcing, make automatic selections based on thresholds, simple UI design etc. Machines are much easier because they don’t need a rationale to collect data via sensor (e.g IoT), they work as long as the technology is in place.

In data management, we have the capability to look at the world from a data point of view and use storytelling to explain it to business lines. We have to understand business processes, but we are not the process person, nor the IT person, we are the communication wire between them all. In other words, our community of 100+ data management employees are the eyes and ears of data at KONE.


The eyes and ears of data at KONE

Becoming an ambassador for your own specialty

Our data management community can be described as a group of people who have the same passion for data. We set the rules and guidelines, and establish the ways of working around data regardless of the type of data we are working with.

We can look at the data community as a construction community. To build a house, you need specialists like architects, electricians, plasters, and so on. They all play different parts in the process, but each is responsible for performing their duties on time and to a high standard. For data, it is exactly the same, no matter what our role is, we all share the responsibility for data. We need to protect and create data that we can trust.

As a whole, our community includes hundreds of people and is divided into subcategories such as the Centres of Excellence, data domains, KBS, frontlines, and solution-design owners. The idea is to share and learn different competences around topics such as technology, data management, business enablement, operational stewardship, and data analytics. This way, everyone becomes an ambassador for their own specialty and we coach each other to increase our own value.

This brings many benefits in terms of internal resourcing, for example: our employees become much more visible and can easily change careers horizontally. It also helps break the silos and drive change, both as part of bigger business transformation programs and also as part of “business as usual”. Collaboration with many stakeholders across organizations is a must in order to continuously improve our solutions. In addition, as we are only a two-year-old team, the possibilities for impact are endless and I personally find it as challenging as it is exciting!

The eyes and ears of data at KONE

If you’re a data management expert and wonder whether KONE could be your next career move, think of the endless possibilities around development, learning, and improvement. You could become one of the guiding lights of data protection inside KONE too. Learn more about KONE Technology & Innovation.

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