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Our ambition is to have customers with us from the start

With Torben Høeg Bonde Bonde, CIO, Nilfisk

Customer involvement is right at the centre of Nilfisk's digital strategy, as it is key for the company to meet the wishes and needs of its customers when developing new technologies. This creates new ecosystems, explains Torben Høeg Bonde Bonde, CIO at Nilfisk.

It requires a combination of courage and vision to embark on a digitalization of an industrial sector deep-rooted in analog products. Nevertheless, Nilfisk has set a new overall digital direction for the global company – a strategy, which Nilfisk's CIO Torben Høeg Bonde Bonde is going to drive forward alongside colleagues across departments. 

– To Nilfisk and the manufacturing industry, digitalization is new. But the company is going through a period of great transformation, and we are working on guiding Nilfisk in a more customer-oriented direction and developing a radically different organizational structure, he says. 

Nilfisk is an organization with its own global headquarters. This has to be used much more than previously – both in relation to the operating model and in the development of our product portfolio, says Torben Høeg Bonde Bonde. The company generates a share of its sales on the B2C market, but is predominantly a B2B player, which is also where the company sees the best opportunities to drive innovation.

Strategy: Customer involvement right from the start

Design thinking and pretotyping are essential elements in Nilfisk's forward-looking strategy, explains CIO Torben Høeg Bonde Bonde. Here, development takes place in cooperation with the customer right from the very beginning – a strategy, which is especially intended for use in the development of robot technology and self-propelled cleaning machines for the professional market. And Nilfisk already has the first automated models on the market. 

– Our approach is to build prototypes and start with models that we become experts in and can use in the rest of our product range. We will do this in close dialog with our largest existing global customers, or those where we can see development potential. Afterwards, we can expand to the rest of the market while continuing to keep customers involved from the start. 

Nilfisk's largest global customers are typically the major cleaning companies, and they have all allocated key account managers from Nilfisk, who maintain an ongoing dialog with the customer about their needs and wishes. 

– There is positioning on both sides, so it’s about discovering how to enter the market together as a stronger unit, says Torben Høeg Bonde Bonde. 

The precise nature of this agreement is agreed to in collaboration, and the objective is to accommodate the customers and their specific needs. 

– It may well be that we have certain dreams, but it is essential to find out what customers are dreaming of. Otherwise, there is little appeal in major investments, he says.

Data as a driver

Automation is one thing, connectivity and data is something else. Those elements must work together in the future. 

– Customers expect our machines to work together with others' products. At the same time, we can use data for documentation and optimization, and make it available to our customers. In other words, data is something we want to work systematically with during the digitalization of Nilfisk.

Incorporate new ecosystems into the business

The digital strategy and the new technological opportunities have led to the need for new solutions – internally, as well as externally. 

– The areas that are not our core competencies will be insourced from partners. We do not expect to do everything ourselves, but will instead aim at creating a new ecosystem, says Torben Høeg Bonde Bonde, and explains: 

– In this new universe, we want to benefit from partners who master certain technologies and innovations, without actually owning the technologies ourselves. For example, we would not want to build a core competency within robot technology by ourselves but rather find partners who are experts in that field and invite them into our ecosystem to supplement our inhouse competencies. The same goes for software, hardware, connectivity and data.

Digital facts about Nilfisk

  • Generally speaking, time has caught up with the idea of major long-term projects driven by a multi-annual plan. Therefore, Nilfisk will work more agile in the future and, among other things, look at DevOps to open up more innovative workflows, which is expected to seep into the larger projects.

  • In order for the agile effort to succeed, it is necessary, according to Torben Høeg Bonde Bonde, to establish a robust and coherent platform to support future projects as well as the company's current solutions.

  • So far, day-to-day operations are measured on parameters such as time and satisfaction levels, while projects primarily have been assessed based on time, quality levels and budget. Going forward, Nilfisk will make greater use of its digital skills and focus more on shared value during the project.

Torben Høeg Bonde Bonde’s top tips for CIOs looking to take digital transformation to the next level

  1. A good piece of advice for industrial companies on the same digitalization journey is not to digitalize for the sake of digitalization – it needs to make good sense and support the business. When the core business is analog, and this is where you earn the money; you should not be dazzled by technology.

  2. It is also important to take chances and be courageous, because there is no safe way to heaven.

Is your organization Digital at Scale?

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Brian Troelsen+45 3079 5933btrl@nnit.comBusiness Development Director Troelsen



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