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Potential digital transformation is everywhere. This time I want to share a personal story based on my IoT cycling device from Garmin. Several years ago I became an enthusiastic cyclist, mainly because it clears your mind and cycling keeps you in good shape after enjoying customer visits with great dinners and excellent breakfasts. As the Dutch lack real mountains, we challenge ourselves with through open fields with strong winds to suffer a little too.


Four years ago, started tracking my cycling performance, with a Garmin Edge 810. The story of my Garmin is a real IoT story. GPS trackers, in the beginning, did not communicate with the outside world. Now, this device connects to sensors registering my speed, my location, my heart rate, pedal cadence and produced power at any time, finally uploading it to the Garmin Connect platform.

The IoT platform

The Garmin Connect platform gives me insights on my performance, activities, and segments. The segment demonstrates the social part of the platform. Here you can see how you rank with others who have cycled the same track segment over time. And you can register your own preferred segment too, where you challenge yourself and others in your area. So the number of segments is growing continuously. Imagine all these cyclists around the world virtually sharing and taking the same track. I am curious to learn from Garmin how many people are connected to the platform.
I could not find these numbers. You?

The fun of segments

Digital Twin

Through the platform, Garmin collects huge amounts of data of connected users. Each data set of the connected user could be considered a simple digital twin. The Connect platform provides me insights about my overall performance through the years through various reports. Garmin could offer as a (paid) service to deliver insights of my performance compared to other users and propose predictive enhancements similar to the GE Predix platform. The difference of course that 1 % performance improvement for me in cycling does not bring the same value as 1 % performance improvement of a GE product (turbine, jet engine, train, …). However, the concept is the same and GE is promoting themselves as the next Digital Industrial Company, leading in digital transformation. Read more here.

Digital Twin performance

Connecting to the customer

Tthe change from moving from a document-driven approach towards a data-driven approach to collect and store information is not the main concept behind a digital transformation. The data-driven approach is an enabler to connect directly to the customer and change the current business model from delivering products into a business model delivering services or even more advanced delivering experiences. Services and experiences create a closer relation to the customer, more loyalty, but also the challenge that you need to connect to the customer in such a way that the customer sees value. Otherwise, the customer will switch to another service or experience. The Apple, Nespresso, Uber experiences are all known for their new ways of connecting to the customer, differentiating from traditional product sales. Garmin could also be on that list. However, I discovered they are not there yet, despite an IoT-platform and connected devices. What is missing?

Why Garmin is not a digital enterprise.

Two years ago my Garmin Edge started crashing in the middle of a ride. The system rebooted after some minutes, and the recordings were lost or at least unreadable.  When I contacted Garmin support their standard response was: “Please reset the device and update to the latest software.” Two years ago the software had still bug fixes. After two years you would expect a stable experience.

However, a year ago the problems started to become more frequent. I started to send log files illustrating where the error occurred. Still, the Garmin response was the same: “Please reset the device and update to the latest software.”
However as there were no new software updates, there must be another reason why the device failed more and more.

After pushing for a resolution, the service department concluded I needed a new device. There might be an issue with the hardware. A little bit skeptical I agreed on a hardware switch again, and as expected this did not solve the crashes. My guess is that due to the increasing amount of segments at some places, the software gets confused where the rider is exactly located and in which direction the rider is going. These are the moments when the crash happens, and this is probably a software issue.

Still, the Garmin help desk believes there is a hardware problem (preferably swap the device) where I kept on providing evidence data of crashes to support Garmin in their error-discovery. Till now there is no resolution. The good news is that Garmin support mentioned investigating further.

For me, the interaction with Garmin illustrates that the company internally is not yet digital transformed. The service desk probably has KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) related to their response time and problem resolution time. Although I can debate the response time, it is clear that the problem resolution approach: Update to the latest software and if this does not work swap to a new device is not increasing the knowledge from Garmin as a company what their customers are experiencing.

Apparently, their software management is disconnected from the service department and customers. Only clear bugs during the first launch are fixed. Next, it is a disconnected world again.

A must for a digital enterprise is to dive into customer issues and to connect them back to R&D, both for the hardware part and software part. Something a modern product manager would do. If a company is not able to understand the multidisciplinary dependencies and solve issues from the field (with some effort), they will keep on making the same mistakes again with new product launches and lose customers who are looking for a better experience.

My conclusion

PLM should be part of the digital enterprise too as this is the only way to deliver consistent customer value and positive experience. It requires companies to break down silos and create multidisciplinary teams that are capable of supporting the full customer journey. A digital device and a digital customer platform are just facades to the outside world – the inside needs to change too.

What do you think?
Does your company understand the challenges to transform across all disciplines?
Are you managing PLM, ALM, and IoT in context of the product and across the whole lifecycle?
I am curious !

observation For many years NOKIA has been my favorite phone brand. I grew up with with their phones – every two years a new subscription and enjoying the new stuff. Although to be fare, 10 years ago a phone was just there to make phone calls and send SMS messages.

My previous and last successful phone was the N95, which had the nice feature that beside the fact it was a telephone, you could do a lot more with this apparatus, making pictures, listening to stereo music from decent built-in speakers and my favorite, an accurate GPS using for it navigation and sports.

For my job this was the perfect phone. The GPS brought me all around the globe, to places I did not know they exist, but the GPS brought me there. Every time I rented a navigation license for a week when i was in South Africa, the US, Greece or Asia and it worked – and the man or lady spoke my language.

shout_leftAs as I have seen NOKIA presentations on several PLM events like the ECF in Paris, i was sure that beside the nice features of various phones type, there are managing their portfolio well and everyone in the audience was always impressed by the short go-to-market time for a mobile phone and how competitive this market is and how NOKIA addressed these challenges. Other phone manufactures do no feel jealous (yet), as so far, I never had the drive to switch to another mobile phone manufacturer.

Yes, I was tempted when I saw the iPhone coming up and for sure, I would have switched to it, if Nokia had not announced the N97. For me the logical next phone as:

  • I am loyal to the brand
  • the N97 is the logical extension of the N95
  • it counters all the remarks from my friends that have an iphone

Of course the announcement was in time and the availability was a little later as expected. But this is what you accept as a loyal customer. The grass might be greener elsewhere, but as long as you feel you have a “communication partner” you will feel comfortable and not jump over (the worst nightmare for any competitor – happy customers)

But then it happened:

nav Two weeks ago, I got my new 97 and immediately after going through the new gadgets and look-and-feel, I decided this phone was worth waiting. Specially the combination of touch screen and keyboard pleased me a lot. Then I decided to drive from the Netherlands to Paris and used my GPS.

This was the biggest disaster so far.

Even in situations that there was only the highway, the GPS was trying to snap to roads 200 meters to the left or right and my fear became right, once in a dense area as Paris you have no clue where you were driving.

But I am a loyal customer so I go to the NOKIA support forum and to my satisfaction, I found already 4 pages of remarks from other people experiencing the same – not being alone helps. Here the NOKIA community was working well, suggestions and remarks from others lead to at least a better understanding of the issue but not to a solution.

Here I was surprised to see the absence of Nokia technical experts, who could assist the audience in the right direction.  And some of the local NOKIA helpdesk responses were even worse – see quote from the forum below:

And what are Nokias’ thoughts on all this???  It would appear nothing, unless they do not read this feedback. Having said that, on one occasion I contacted Nokia “support” they blamed it on the satellites, and the fact they are owned by the USA government, and Nokia have no control on them!!!!  Honest, that is EXACTLY what I was told. Dohhhh  (A “knee jerk” response from a body which SHOULD be supporting their product(s).

listen So I went to a NOKIA care center, where the latest available phone software was loaded. I had an interesting of-the-record discussion there with one of the specialists. He mentioned that this kind of issues became more and more standard not only for NOKIA.
Due to time-to-market pressure, phone suppliers bring their products on the market, almost untested. It is the first wave of gadget chasers who detect all the bugs and then in the longer term, the telephone will come with a stable fix almost at End-Of-Life of the phone.

I agreed that this was an interesting strategy and I have seen other companies doing the same, only difference: They mention to their gadget chasers: “Note is is a preliminary version, our official release date is xx – xx – 2009”

Meanwhile the new installed software version improved some of the features, still the GPS is unacceptable. In parallel the amount of pages on the Nokia support forum has grown to 7+ and people, like me, getting more and more frustrated from the lack of response from Nokia. They keep silent ……..

So now coming back to my question: How PLM is NOKIA ?

On of the major benefits of PLM is being more focused on customer inputs and feedback, allowing you to make better products. I know the whole PLM infrastructure is in place at NOKIA, but there is no response:

It is all about connecting people

To my understanding none of the people exposing their GPS problem have been able to get an useful answer. Is it because there is no answer ? Making mistakes is not dramatic but as Confucius said: “A man who has committed a mistake and doesn’t correct it, is committing another mistake”.

So I am waiting for the Nokia response to create a solution path – and yes for the competition the door gets open

Below in this YouTube video you can see how it was tested 🙂



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