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AN EYE ON THE BIGGER PICTURE

Waiting for the big bang? Not at Wilo. The manufacturer of pumps and pump systems makes innovations see the light of day even without a big bang. We can find out how Wilo does that from the company itself.

Industry:  Machine building
Company size: 7,600
URL:  www.wilo.com
Trendexplorer customer since:  2016
Our contact person: Sven Grave - Head of Innovation Management at Wilo

Sven Grave - Head of Innovation Management at Wilo

As Head of Innovation Management, Sven Grave is responsible for the subject of trends at Wilo.

What role does trend research play in your company?

Wilo is a future-oriented company and for that reason trend research plays an extremely important role for us. Our company strategy is geared towards six mega-trends: globalization, urbanization, water shortage, energy shortage, climate change and digital transformation. We track these trends very closely, as they will have a long-term impact on the world – and therefore also on our company and our activities.

The Trendexplorer has now become an established tool in our Innovation Management toolkit. We publish a monthly trend update on our innovation platform, for example. This update serves to inspire all our employees and encourage them to think about the latest trends and topics out there.

The basis for the trend updates is the Trendexplorer. That is where we look for micro-trends that are relevant to Wilo and we use them to compile our trend update. The compact presentation of the trends in the Trendexplorer – including a photo and a link – means that our work in creating the trend update is kept to a minimum. There is, however, always great interest in the trend updates. In most cases, the update is read on the day of its publication by 200 to 300 colleagues.

You are in charge of Innovation Management. In what way does the Trendexplorer help you in your work?

And what happens next? Can you give us an example?

A good example is the unbreakable cat food packets from Dreamies. After we published this trend in our trend update, a lot of our colleagues, including material engineers, product managers and reception staff, spoke to us about it. They had all read the update, discovered the trend and had started thinking about its implications: “What kind of material could that be? What might unbreakable Wilo packaging look like? How can the material be recycled?”. It is a great example of the lively innovation culture at Wilo. Innovation is not confined to small groups, but is a fundamental component of the whole company.

It is much more interesting to learn more about the trends and technologies in other industries, too. Something could emerge there that will become relevant for us in the future or will show us a solution to a problem that we are currently working on.
Sven Grave, Head of Innovation Management at Wilo

From an innovation management perspective, a core aspect of our work is to stay up to date and detect key trends as early as possible – while always looking over the horizon. We know the trends in our own industries very well. It is much more interesting to learn more about the trends and technologies in other industries, too. Something could emerge there that will become relevant for us in the future or will show us a solution to a problem that we are currently working on.

In addition, we use the micro-trends from the Trendexplorer for inspiration and as creative stimulation in workshops and presentations. We show relevant trends and ask: “How can we use that for our purposes? Or how can we transfer this trend to our own industry or products?”. The combination of internal expertise and external ideas and technologies is really exciting and often the source of “the next big thing”!

We also regularly organize a kind of trend show where we exhibit micro-trends and have them evaluated based on questions like, “Is this or that trend relevant for us and, if yes, in what way? And what kind of ideas do you have about it?”. We organized the first trend show three years ago. At that time, we hadn’t worked with the Trendexplorer before. The preparation was, therefore, quite complicated, particularly with regard to the research involved. Since then, however, the Trendexplorer has made research much more efficient and effective.

Besides the trend update, are there any other services or areas where the Trendexplorer is used?

Which challenges, problems or questions do you encounter regarding the trends?

A major challenge is in correctly categorizing the trends. On the one hand, we want to generate new, disruptive ideas. This works well with our innovation platform and workshops. On the other hand, the trends and ideas are supposed to be close to our business area.

A major challenge is in correctly categorizing the trends. On the one hand, we want to generate new, disruptive ideas. On the other hand, the trends and ideas are supposed to be close to our business area.
Sven Grave, Head of Innovation Management at Wilo

One of the greatest challenges is the digital transformation trend. As a digital pioneer in the pump industry, we actively promote this topic. The focus here is on new, digital products, systems and solutions, as well as the Smart Factory in Dortmund.

Is there a specific trend that is particularly relevant to Wilo?

And is there a trend that you personally find interesting?

I am really interested in much of what is currently happening in the field of using and interacting with products. Virtual and augmented reality, touch interfaces and voice control – and there is plenty more to come. And topics like artificial intelligence, blockchain and IoT are just getting started.

The world we live in and all its developments ... exciting times are ahead.

Wilo readily admits that it’s the innovation culture that made the company what it is today: one of the world’s leading manufacturers of high-tech pumps and pump systems. It is therefore second nature for Wilo to monitor trends and the way they influence various aspects of life. After all, whoever keeps a close eye on trends today creates the right basis for developing the ideas and innovations of tomorrow.