Digital products are adaptable and enhance customer satisfaction. Head of IoT Consumer Solutions Dominik Franke explains what the prerequisites are: innovative ideas, the cloud and integration in existing digital ecosystems.
Mr Franke, you have recently taken over responsibility for connectivity & back-end solutions in the Digital Products team. What does that mean exactly?
As Head of IoT Consumer Solutions, I’m focused on our digital ecosystem, i.e. everything relating to systems. Now that we’ve expanded our digital team, we have the necessary strength and a lot of exciting ideas about how to meet the digital challenges facing the company.
What does the digital ecosystem comprise and when will it be available?
We’re working on an IoT platform that will enable appliances to connect to the cloud and consequently unlock more relevant customer benefits.
Can you give us a topical example?
We’re currently testing whether it’s possible to adapt the functionality of appliances after they have been bought and installed depending on users’ needs over their lifecycle.
So in future I’ll no longer need to have the latest model to benefit from new functions?
That’s one of the biggest advantages. Adaptive appliances future-proof the buyer’s investment. At the same time we can expand the range of digital functions offered. This is an important driver of innovation for us.
And why does this need the cloud?
We have to get these functions on to the appliance somehow. This is done with the aid of our cloud. This reduces the administrative effort and time involved, and supports flexibility into the future. Consumers will also benefit from many other app and cloud features. This will allow us to develop new services to meet customer demand.
As a user I’m worried about data being collected – how does V-ZUG use this data?
Naturally all data will be handled in accordance with the relevant data protection regulations which are constantly being tightened. This also represents one of the biggest technological challenges. Providing a secure cloud environment takes a lot of time and effort, which is why we are collaborating with the best external partners.
«We’re working on ways to make appliances already installed in homes smart too.»
What more digital news can customers look forward to in future?
We’re working on ways to make appliances already installed in homes smart too. We already have a retrofit offering which we intend to expand further.
What areas will you be concentrating most on this year?
Internetworking with other digital ecosystems. We’re not the only company developing and launching digital products on the market. To enable them to communicate with other household appliances (e.g. smart home devices or kitchen appliances), it’s essential that all devices speak the same digital language. For example, assuming there’s an app for controlling the oven, the lights in the living room and the garage door, this will only work if all elements in the system are speaking the same language. That’s why we are keen to join networks that are seeking to harmonize these languages.
We can see there are a number of exciting scenarios unfolding in future. What about the present?
In recent months we have integrated some new functions in the V-ZUG app. And of course our GuidedCooking function is brand new. Expanding the app will also help to strengthen our position in the kitchen segment over the next year and allow us to offer a uniform customer experience – from inspiration through to enjoying the end result.
My favourite tech feature at the moment is voice recognition in my car – calling contacts, setting the satnav, getting information and suchlike. When will I be able to talk to my coffee machine or steam cooker?
We’re naturally also working on voice recognition and I believe the first voice control features will be coming soon.
Hacking through the jargon jungle
Ecosystem for our digital products.
Upgrading appliances that were initially not network-enabled so they can also access our ecosystem.
Appliances supplied already network-enabled.
An appliance that is already equipped to enable a customer to connect to our ecosystem.
Customer portal to our digital ecosystem.
V-ZUG GuidedCooking app
App that supports the guided cooking process between Bluetooth-enabled cookware from Kuhn Rikon and a GuidedCooking-ready hob from V-ZUG.
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