Defining future business models in public transport and emergency lighting


Vehicle solutions and emergency lighting manufacturer Teknoware wanted to understand how their customers’ needs were evolving. Their goal was to find new customer insights and turn them into business opportunities. VTT conducted thorough customer research and helped Teknoware transform the discoveries into new service concepts.

Key facts

30+ in-depth international customer and other stakeholder interviews

Interview insights as foundation for service development

Development of winning service concepts

Up to speed with evolving customer needs

The rise of Anything as a Service (XaaS) business models has led many companies to rethink their existing offering and business model. However, the development of new products, services and even business models demand profound understanding of the potential customers’ needs.

This evolution applies to lighting management as well. To better prepare for changing customer needs, specialised lighting manufacturer Teknoware partnered with VTT. “Simply put, we wanted to increase our understanding of our customers’ needs and determine the underlying business potential,” says Kai Kauto, CEO of Teknoware.  

Teknoware manufactures lighting and interior structures for trains, buses and coaches as well as emergency lighting systems for buildings. The company is based in Lahti, Finland but has production facilities in five countries and a rich history spanning almost 50 years. Teknoware is the largest emergency lighting manufacturer in the Nordics and a market leader in vehicle lighting in Western Europe.

The development project between Teknoware and VTT exploring future lighting solutions began in 2018. “VTT has a good reputation as a partner with diverse expertise”, Kauto explains the rationale of choosing VTT.

In-depth interviews feed productive workshops

The development project was split into two phases:

  1. Customer and partner interviews and service concept creation
  2. Service concept development

In the first phase, VTT research scientists Minna Salo and Päivi Petänen contacted and interviewed more than twenty of Teknoware’s existing and prospect customers internationally. The overwhelming majority of interviewees were more than happy to openly talk with an impartial research institution.  

The in-depth interviews provided precious information for Teknoware. “We were surprised by how well the researchers were able to reach our customers and the almost overflowing number of responses”, comments Kauto. “It was heartening to see that our customers felt that this work is important and were happy to let us actively push the development forward. We were seen as their trusted partner.”  .

We received invaluable input of our customers’ needs. Collecting this input by ourselves would have been nearly impossible.
Kai Kauto, CEO, Teknoware
Kai Kauto, CEO, Teknoware

The interviews were the heart and soul for the entire project. After they had been conducted, the responses were used in a succession of VTT-facilitated workshops. The workshops engaged Teknoware’s own experts and managers to develop product and service concepts around actual customer needs instead of purely technological innovations.

Much of the work in the workshops was eventually documented using different tools, such as service blueprints and business model canvases. The documentation remains an informative amalgamation of customer insights and Teknoware’s experts thinking.

Building the capabilities of a service business

The second phase of the project took place in 2020. The phase began with a round of benchmarking interviews with stakeholders who provide complementing services to Teknoware’s target audiences. These interviews further illustrated the possibilities of news services as well as scouted potential partners for collaboration.   

The second phase also consisted of defining and describing the most potential service concepts in more detail. The development work is far from over, but some of these concepts will eventually become actual solutions. Just as importantly, Teknoware now has the ability to develop products and services with a customer-first mindset. 

We learned how to develop billable services instead of simply doing favours.
Kai Kauto, CEO, Teknoware

VTT’s experts managed the project from the beginning to the end. Teknoware quickly discovered the benefits of external help: “Scheduling the entire project around the workshops was efficient. We didn’t have to worry about timetables, as VTT’s experts politely pushed us forward each step of the way”, explains Kauto.

A successful partnership helps Teknoware develop better products and services

As a result of the project, Teknoware’s readiness to develop and sell services with a customer first mindset has grown. This might eventually be the longest-lasting impact of the project, as they are planning to use the methods in the future as well.   

“We were able to build a trusting relationship with Teknoware. It was a delight to see the growth of service-oriented thinking on top of their product and technology expertise,” says VTT’s Research Scientist Minna Salo, who worked closely with Teknoware for over 2.5 years.

“In the near future, we will be developing products that better meet customer needs and will grow our business,” summarises Kauto.

Minna Salo
Minna Salo
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