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Why moving 1B people every day motivates tech professionals

- a deep dive with KONE Technology and Innovation Unit's Johannes Rastas (SVP of Services and Solutions)

In August 2020, Johannes Rastas joined KONE as SVP of Services and Solutions, heading our digital services development. His unit is the digital and software arm of KONE, driving new value creation and aiming to transform the industry. The team consists of digital product leaders, visionary creative talent, full stack cloud developers, hardware engineers, data scientists, and everything in between across China, India, US, and Finland.

We had a remote chat with Johannes about what motivates him and why he sees KONE’s digital transformation story as a meaningful journey for tech professionals to create an impact with software and digital services.

Getting to know Johannes Rastas

Johannes is a digital transformation leader with an impressive track record within the R&D space: from starting in the start-up scene during the dot-com era to going corporate with the birth and evolution of smartphones on a global scale with Nokia and Microsoft. Before KONE, he was transforming banking in the Nordics as Head of Digital Banking at Nordea, one of the leading Nordic universal banks.

“I’m a software engineer by profession and a digital leader hailing from Espoo, Finland. I’m also kept busy as a father of three small kids, but I still have time for my ‘so-called’ hobbies like photography, playing board games, and spending time in nature. I love to tinker with gadgets and build stuff, which I would do more, if I had the time.”

“My work is not very physical but it can be quite taxing at times, so I try and keep a good routine to stay in good physical shape. Working out helps give the brain a break and remain creative. It helps me mentally recover from work.”

A career motivated by making an impact on humankind

We asked Johannes to look back at his career and share the main things that have driven and motivated him when selecting a place to work:

“My primary motivator has always been making an impact on humankind.”

“At Nokia, with the birth of smartphones, it was easy to connect that to making a huge impact. It was extremely inspiring to do things when the industry was still young in maturity. You knew you would be making a big impact globally, especially in developing countries, where mobile internet was not only about getting access to entertainment, but getting access to education and jobs.”

“In the financial industry, we were driving the transformation to digital with online and remote banking and, for example, enabling mobile shopping experiences. It was also meaningful to be there for some of peoples’ most important life decisions, like getting married, taking a loan to start your studies or your own business, buying your own first apartment – and also the difficult moments such as supporting the financial aspects that need to be dealt with when a loved one passes away.”

“I get a kick out of utilizing technology and design to impact the moments that matter in people’s lives. Making their lives easier in those moments is highly rewarding.”

An opportunity to impact billions of people globally

Johannes yearned to continue making an impact in people’s lives through digital transformation on a more global scale. That’s where KONE came in as a career move.

“From a technology standpoint, KONE is interesting because it is a leading company in an industry that has not yet seen a big technological shift in terms of software and digital business models. There is a huge opportunity to impact billions of people on a global scale.”

The potential impact is more than the few minutes spent on an elevator

KONE has the ability to save time and help improve safety and quality when transporting people and precious goods, during construction, and in hospital emergency cases. Considering the global pandemic, KONE’s role in supporting the optimization and enablement of social distancing and contactless people flow is critical.

“Our aspiration for the impact we can have is much more than the few minutes a day you spend in elevators or on escalators. It’s about making cities and urban environments better places to live and work.”

“At KONE, we ask ourselves ‘How can we make things easier for you, our customer? When you visit work? How can we make your life easier?’ The impact might be saving a minute or two a day, which is an hour a month, and could even be a day a year!”

The technological opportunity for KONE

All this requires creative and smart technical solutions to address complex problems. Johannes sees that this is where tech professionals like himself can make their mark – in not only helping transform KONE, but also globally transform the urban flow of people and goods.

“It’s a motivating place for tech professionals. KONE moves over 1 billion people every day. That is huge. We have over 1.4 million units of equipment that connect to over 550,000 customers. On the scale of any global company, those are respectable figures. The scale is also multifaceted from residential and office buildings and basic infrastructure to hospitals, hotels, cruise liners, cities, public spaces, and more.”

The next 5 years at KONE: Accelerating on the digital highway

KONE has been a big player in innovation for its 110-year existence. Now, the move from product and solution orientation into the digital experience space will be accelerating, for example, to leverage the cloud to its full potential. We asked Johannes what the next five years hold in store for KONE’s digital journey:

“We will expand our digital portfolio. Our new KONE Office Flow solution, KONE DX Class elevators, and KONE 24/7 Connected Services will be central to our growth. We are entering the highway and now we need to start accelerating.”

“We are investing a lot into R&D and digital services at the moment. And we will continue to invest in modernizing our software practices. We will adapt the same standards and best practices as the technology and software industry, even if we are in a relatively slow-moving industry. We will also need to learn from our customers and partners, and co-create with them. This is an effort I am committed to driving forward at KONE.”

“A lot of this will happen over the next couple of years. We have a good head start and a big opportunity to improve. We need to continuously challenge ourselves to act as the cutting-edge tech company we want to be. We have great people for sure, but we need more to help us on our digital transformation journey.”

Learn more about KONE as a tech company in Part 2 of Johannes’s interview and discover more about our software and digital roles here.