Kapsch CarrierCom, a Kapsch Group company, is a global provider of end-to-end communication solutions for mission-critical networks. Innovative technologies, products and services cover the entire value chain from planning and development through production and installation to maintenance and technical management. Together with HYVE, Kapsch developed an innovation strategy that enables technologies and market opportunities to be exploited with a more open and customer-oriented mindset. The collaboration has resulted in a process that systematically leads to the creation of new products and services by utilizing existing skills and abilities.
We spoke with Michael Maier, Managing Director of HYVE Innovation Austria, Jochen Nowotny (Vice President of Product Management, Research & Development, Delivery & Support at Kapsch CarrierCom and Project Owner) and Farid Bazizi (Team Lead “IIoT solutions”) about innovation strategy, Innovation Labs and innovation culture.
Jochen, how and for what purpose was the project with HYVE initiated?
At Kapsch CarrierCom, we are the global leader in railway communications. Mission-critical communication solutions are our DNA and we wanted to expand our portfolio with solutions that fit us and our expertise. This portfolio expansion had to be based on the latest innovation methods, and so we have talked to several innovation providers. We finally chose HYVE because HYVE had the best concept and considerable references in many industries.
We finally chose HYVE because HYVE had the best concept and considerable references in many industries.
The decisive difference in the HYVE approach – compared to other providers – was that HYVE did not do the innovation work for the Kapsch CarrierCom team, but with them, for example by learning and applying design thinking and co-creation. HYVE provided expertise and advice throughout the process. Today, our portfolio includes not only new and progressive solutions, but also the company’s ability to drive innovation in the future.
Michael, why did HYVE choose the approach with two project phases? How did the project environment looked like?
This project was not only about developing an innovative solution, but also about giving the company a strategic orientation and creating an innovation-friendly environment. So we designed and elaborated the innovation strategy in the first phase before moving on to the Innovation Lab phase, where we have developed concrete solutions to support the defined strategic direction.
On the HYVE side, we had a core team from Munich and Vienna, which was joined by additional experts (e.g. IT, IoT, Designer) if required. On the part of the KCC, two interdisciplinary innovation teams were guided through the entire process. The HYVE and KCC teams worked continuously together in both phases of the project.
And what was the outcome, Farid?
We started testing promising technologies like IoT, Artificial Intelligences, Drones, Augmented/Virtual Reality and then crossed them with our skills, our know-how and our DNA. Of course, IIoT also played a role. We got to know the state of the art and derived it for the railway industry, which led to the KUBE concept. The multimode solution collects, monitors, transports, visualizes and analyzes mission-critical data to optimize the control and maintenance of railway equipment. KUBE is the first IIoT solution of this kind and with KUBE, railway operators can optimize operational efficiency and asset management through smart predictive maintenance. Faster decision making ensures even more reliable customer service.
The biggest challenge was definitely not the technology, but the use case knowledge. Together with our customers, we developed and worked out the use cases using the co-creation methodology.
And how will it continue, once the KUBE is on the market, Farid?
Although we are still in the early stages of KUBE implementations, our customer has already realized that KUBE is a unique solution that solves its challenges by transporting, collecting and visualizing business-critical data in the most reliable and secure way. In fact, there is nothing comparable in the transport market.
We will continue to work with our customers to address their different applications and keep the innovation loop open.
The format of the Innovation Lab is interpreted very differently. What did the Innovation Lab mean for KCC, Jochen?
To be honest, the way it worked was initially uncomfortable for us and the team members in the project. Our processes and way of working did not correspond to a lab’s approach. This led to frustration, questions and strong demand to leave the comfort zone. Together with HYVE, we cleared this hurdle and the project received an unsurpassed speed and positive energy, which was visible not only among the core team members, but also beyond Kapsch CarrierCom as a whole.
Michael, what were the biggest challenges you faced as a HYVE team? What were the biggest findings?
I think our biggest challenge was to find out which methods and tools were most useful for the KCC teams and which were not. It took some time before we found the best approach for the KCC teams and were able to distinguish which methods the teams could use effectively and which they could not use at all. So the learning is to carefully observe and listen to the needs of the teams from the beginning and be flexible to adapt the process, methods and tools accordingly.
Jochen, what do you recommend to other project teams facing similar challenges as yours?
We have learned state-of-the-art innovation methods – and as always, when you learn something new, you have to be open and allow things not to go the way you would expect them to. In other words, I can only recommend relying on HYVE because they know what they are doing – the rest will surely come.
“For the efficient development of our new IIoT solution it was essential to combine our innovative strength. The innovation process – accompanied by HYVE – supported us in this process. Together we have created the ideal conditions to generate and develop new ideas”. (Kari Kapsch, CEO of Kapsch CarrierCom and COO of the Kapsch Group)
Jochen Nowotny leads an international team of 250 experts at Kapsch CarrierCom, covering all technical disciplines including product management, standardization and regulation, architecture, research and development, engineering, deployment and global product support.
Farid Bazizi leads the R&D development team of Kapsch Carrier Com. His team is fully focused on the railway market and is responsible for Mission Critical Communication (GSM-R, FRMCS) and Industrial IoT.
Michael Maier joined HYVE in September 2017 and is Managing Director of HYVE Innovation Austria, responsible for the development of the Vienna office and the Austrian market.