Wärtsilä has set out to accelerate new business ideas using a collection of “Digital Acceleration Centers” (DAC) scattered around the globe. The first DAC in Helsinki has been running in beta for several months and was officially launched today, and will be followed by the second to open in Singapore in December, as well as one in Central Europe and one in North America anticipated during 2018. Additional “pop-up” DACs will be tested with customers at other locations.
Wärtsilä said opening the DACs is part of its digital transformation, which aims to help the company shift toward a data-driven, insights led, smart technology.
Wärtsilä's Chief Digital Officer, Marco Ryan, explained, “The Digital Acceleration Center is all about getting business outcomes at pace. By adopting a startup mindset, we can rapidly prototype ideas with customers; including the use of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence
, machine learning, block chain and virtual reality.”
Wärtsilä's first DAC in Helsinki has been running as a beta version for a couple of months and several projects have been accelerated there with different partners. Current projects include for example co-creation with one of major cruise companies. One of the greatest successes incubated so far in the Helsinki DAC is Wärtsilä's Intelligent Vessel Strategy.
“The Digital Acceleration Center shows its true power in such complex concepts like Intelligent Vessels. In a matter of weeks we created an aligned strategy, concepts, roadmaps and technology requirements that would have taken months or years. Each concept can be cut into smaller projects which are incubated and developed into Minimal Viable Products (MVP) far quicker than ever before. Even if occasionally an idea fails in the incubation phase, we see that as a learning opportunity and a valuable insight into building a better solution,” Ryan said.
DACs provide an opportunity to work in close relationship with customers, startups and partners to deliver greater value quickly to customers.
Wärtsilä's startup acquisition, Eniram, has worked together with Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCL) for years in optimizing fleet and ship operations as well as reducing emissions and cutting fuel costs. Building on this experience, Wärtsilä and RCL are now working closely together in a partnership to develop all aspects of the intelligent vessel further, using the DAC to accelerate some of the prototyping.
Wärtsilä has also partnered up with Accenture Interactive in the DACs to speed up innovation and go-to-market as well as to help grow Wärtsilä's own talent for creating world-class digital services
The latest example of the Intelligent Vessel strategy being driven at pace is Wärtsilä's acquisition of Guidance Marine Limited, a technology leader in the marine industry for sensor solutions relating to dynamic positioning (DP) and other vessel control systems.
Further examples include the remote control navigation test in August carried out together with Gulfmark Offshore, the U.S. based operator. The testing involved driving the vessel off the North Sea coast of Scotland through a sequence of maneuvers using a combination of DP and manual joystick control. Although the test vessel was in the North Sea, the remote control navigating was carried out from the Wärtsilä office located in San Diego, 5,000 miles away. The testing was carried out using standard bandwidth onboard satellite communication. No land-based technology was used for the communications between the vessel and the remote operator work station.
“These recent examples prove that we can test new ideas and business models at pace,” Ryan said. “In the old days, partly due to our proud engineering tradition, we would have not wanted to reveal a new product until it was perfect and fully tested. But now, with the DACs, we keep that focus on quality and outcomes, yet achieve it through a more agile, disruptive and rapid prototyping approach. The Intelligent vessel successes show that we can transform Wärtsilä at pace.”