And for Swedish 327-year heritage company Husqvarna, a major producer of outdoor products, the development is creating major business opportunity.
– This is changing really rapidly, right now, says Husqvarnas Director of Group Connectivity, Petra Sundström.
Husqvarna is one of many companies worldwide, that has had to change its business mindset, due to the impact of the Internet of Things. One of Husqvarnas hot products right now, is the ”Smart Garden System” launched this year.
– It is sensors in the ground, that take in the moist value of the soil, and the amount of sunlight, and the temperature. And uses those values, to direct the watering for that area, where those sensors are being placed.
Petra explains further:
– Then we also connect this to our robotic mower, for a complete system overview of the garden where users then also follow and direct when the grass is/should be cut and so forth. Make sure the robot hasn’t got stuck and that it isn’t stolen and so forth.
Earlier, this kind of innovation has often just been technology-driven, the market pull for connected gadgets has not always been automatic.
Petra Sundström is on the advisory board, for Copperbergs Conference of Things event, which takes place at the Quality Hotel Globen in Stockholm on November 21-22, 2016. She has a PhD in human/machine interaction, and is fascinated by the positive way that the markets are now reacting, to new devices and gadgets:
– Here at Husqvarna, we developed a bluetooth helmet, for customers working in the forest, needing to talk to talk to each other. That product, no one bought from us, a couple of years ago. But now that we have taken it out of our product range, we are getting lots of requests, from customers that want to buy it.
With the ”Smart Garden System”, it’s a different and positive market reaction from customers.
– This is changing rapidly for us, says Petra Sundström.
Husqvarna is investing in IoT, and for example acquired the Swiss smart gardening pioneer and specialist company Koubachi, last year. Now Husqvarna has a ”Connectivity Hub”-team, driving IoT implementation. And markets are standing in line, to buy and sell the new innovative products.
– We are just launching our ”Smart Garden System”, in our German speaking countries, to begin with. And there are already requests from Sweden, from Italy and Poland, Petra says.
The need to explain the gains of exploiting IoT, is no longer acute. Even though companies like Husqvarna, are still using free trial periods, in order to launch new IoT-connected products.
– When that happens, the market pull is there. Now, when professional companies start to use service like Fleet Management Services, they immediately see the benefits.
However, for a company like Husqvarna that has both a business product range and a private/residential product range, it has become obvious that the marketing model has to be very different in both cases.
– In consumer markets, the hardware goes up in price, but customers are not prepared to pay for service. In the professional markets, the hardware goes down in price, but the prices on the service, can be much higher. The amount of money that we can make on service, in our professional markets, is a great benefit.
It is of course difficult to say, percentage-wise, how much production is leaning towards IoT connected solutions.
– But digitalization, is one of our key strategies. And like I said, we are changing rapidly right now. Like for instance the fact that we have already launched services, like the ”Smart Garden Systems” that our competitors have not.
And more IoT innovation and production, is in full throttle at Husqvarna:
– As we know that it will continue to happen, products that we will launch in 2018 for example, we are developing right now.