Innovation for 90 year old products

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Nowadays I’m working in a marketing position as a product manager for one of the most important offers in my company, and after a short time in this position, it all started to become clear…we need to digitize all that we can!  But how can one start to do this with an incredibly traditional devices such as a contactor? Well, this is the history of how a traditional selection guide evolved into a mobile app.

I never planned to be responsible for these products, so when I was confirmed in this position the first action was talk to my manager and ask for a new objective for the year “being responsible for digitization in Partner Projects Business in Chile”, and without a clue, that was the first step to the innovation with these products. My first idea was to create a mobile app, so I started to define how people interact with their mobile devices (smartphones or tablets) and the first thought was “they only play with birds all day!” But that let me understood that if you can’t offer some really useful app for their everyday life, just let it go.

So I talked with some friends about trying to give our customers the best app to help with their daily work, do they know what they need? And then the hardest question…do they really need a mobile app for such traditional products that are already so well known? And the answer was no, but we need to innovate and innovation isn’t just creating an app, it is creating a new tool that will save them time and increase content availablity,  two important benefits in today’s industry.

Time, because the app must allow for selecting the appropiate motor starter solution based in simple parameters…current and power; well known information for any maintenance technician; specific parameters just to refine the solution; the coil voltage and if it’s a direct on line or reversing starter. Content, because information is available in traditional means such as catalogues, brochures, etc.,  but when working in the plant all day or repairing machines, it is not easy to carry a lot of manuals, datasheets or catalogues just for a single reference.

After all this research, we have developed an app, localized to our country for all the most used platforms in Chile in a standard language.   It provides all the information needed to define a motor starter and gives you access our national distributors for quotations.  The result is as follows in this image.

app_1  If we check all the process we can identify some relevant aspects:

– It doesn’t matter if you have an old traditional history in a product, innovations can be done anyway, the only requirement is your motivation for creating and innovating.

– A simple idea isn’t enough, we need to be close to our customers, we need to understand what they need or what they don’t know they need, in order to give them the best solution to enhance their everyday work process.

– The birds are fun, but for work you need more than fun, you need to solve the real problems of your customers, put yourself in their shoes working in a plant or with machines.

As I said, I’m responsible in Chile for an offer with more than 90 years of history in the world, but today I feel that I’ve created a new chapter for the next 90 years.

How do you innovate everyday in your life? Are you creating a new chapter to everyday?

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  • Hi Martin, I really liked your story. It just shows how we should constantly challenge ourselves to deliver the best and most up-to-date tools to our customers, even if our product ranges have been around since before the web was invented 😉
    Can you publish a link to where I can get your App? I work in Customer Care in France, and we are developing web-based tools to simplify product selection and product substitution for our distributors. The objective is to make them more independent and to reply faster to the end customer.
    Innovation is fun, and helps us to co-develop with our customers : exciting times!

  • Martin Gallardo

    10 years ago

    Hi Claire!

    I’m in Grenoble now, talking with a lot of people about this app, and one of the things that i can tell you is that soon, really soon, we will have this tool as a global tool… so please be patient, soon we will have full availability and information for all.


    • Edgardo Herrera

      10 years ago

      Congratulaciones Martín, I’m sure this kind of innovatives tools helps to bring the new generation closer to Schneider.

      • Martin Gallardo

        10 years ago

        Thanks Edgardo, i think that there’s a new marketing style that new generation expects, and we have to be clear that is the only way to look at the future as the great company that we are. Best regards!

  • Till Gotterbarm

    10 years ago

    good implementation of technology to improve the interaction with a very traditional product. Key to the success is indeed to understand why anyone would want to use the App – and get them to do it.

    • Martin Gallardo

      10 years ago

      Thanks for your comments Till
      In fact that’s the key, a close relationship with our customers to give them an useful tool for their everyday work.

      Best Regards!

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