Productization in the Construction Industry: Interview with Granlund

Service productization can help construction companies do better business and have more satisfied clients.

AEC Business had the opportunity to interview Mika Virkki, Senior Consultant and Energy Manager at Granlund, a Finnish Helsinki-based company specialized in design, consultancy and software services with expertise in energy efficiency. He told us about their new productized service – Granlund PULSE.

Mika-Virkki-GranlundCan you say a few words about your company

Granlund specializes in design, consultancy and software services. The core of our expertise is energy efficiency. The company was established in 1960 and today employs over 650 professionals. We focus on innovation and development of new energy solutions, information technology and integrated design.

What is your service, what is the problem it is solving and for whom?

People tend to spend about 80-90% of their time indoors, but studies show that only 40% of office workers are happy with their working conditions. What if they could give direct feedback about those conditions and be responded to quickly? One of our services, Granlund PULSE, does just that.

PULSE takes information collected from sensors in the building, combines it with user feedback, and displays the result in real time with a single figure. This figure measures the building’s wellbeing and helps make better maintenance decisions.

The service is available to everyone ranging from the building owner to the individual building users. The result is an energy efficient and well-balanced building where the users are happy.

We released Granlund PULSE in the beginning of March so it’s a new product.

What is unique or exceptional about your service?

At the moment there isn’t anything like it on the market. We combine data, which can be measured, with user feedback, which is more abstract, to produce a unique and useful metric.

Can you briefly walk us through your service process?

  • We get an order from the client (building manager, facilities manager or top management)
  • We create a webpage for them
  • We give the links to the webpage to the client, along with a short guide on how to use them
  • The client starts using the tool and already a week later we have data that we can analyze
  • Within a month there is enough knowledge for the client to start making decisions
  • In the process we get answers to questions such as: “Are the indoor conditions ok?”, “Are the HVAC systems operating energy efficiently?”, “Should any changes be made?”, etc. 

How did you develop and productize your service?

Construction business is usually quite slow moving. The people inside the buildings are the most important thing and we have to take their wellbeing into consideration more in the future. We made a decision to add this focus to our strategy.

First, we created Manager Metrix, a system that can collect building data automatically from different building management systems. Then we started noticing that measured values are not always the same as what people felt like inside the building. We thought that these things should be looked at together. We did satisfaction queries for a while but we thought there was a more efficient way to get that information. So we created the easy-to-use PULSE software tool. It’s simple, intuitive and collects and displays data in real-time.

What benefits do your client and your company get from a productized service?

It is easier to explain a service to the client when everything is clearly productized. Clients feel informed and comfortable with a productized purchase. They get our service and it helps them make accurate, responsible changes, and have better building environments.

There are a lot of benefits for us. We get more information and it helps us better understand the issues inside the buildings.  We can bundle different parts into the service portfolio efficiently. We can have more focused marketing, as it’s easier to market a product than a service. In the end, it’s an economic benefit for us and for the clients as we are able to keep pricing at a low level.

What have you learned from developing and delivering your service?

We’ve learned that there are more different clients that we can attend to than what we had been accustomed to. Usually our clients are the business owners, but with the new services we are also able to speak directly to the building users.

We also noticed that the data we collect could be used in the business planning process. Identifying possible problem spots inside the building allows us to plan and design the building more efficiently in the future. So this data can help the building owner enhance the use of capital and operating expense processes also.

What does it take to be successful?

Lots of coffee and hard work! You have to have a strong focus on what you are trying to achieve and in the end you have to have the right products. You have to be able to really put yourself into the clients position and think about what they might need – what could you offer that could best support their line of business?

Any word of advice for other companies considering productization?

Find out what is the main thing that you are trying to achieve and take a look at your portfolio. Do you have everything there? Then start working on your selected main product/service so it can be easily sold to the clients. Finally, take a good look at your service from the client’s perspective – can they understand what you are selling? 

What are your future plans? 

As digitalization moves forward with Big Data and Internet of Things, we see PULSE growing into a platform that everybody could use – in the workplace, at the grocery store, or at the movies. People could, in real-time, both give feedback and receive information about the building that they are in.

For building users this means that they will be more informed about and involved in their built environment. For our clients it means that PULSE will help them maintain a high level of energy efficiency and user satisfaction. So in the future we would have better buildings and people would be more satisfied with their environment.