Data science – the next big thing in home appliances

As the Internet of Things moves from infancy to maturity and more home appliances get connected, Electrolux is ramping up its activities in developing big data as a key tool in running the business and as a source of new services for consumers. The company is recruiting a team of data scientists who will gain insights from the rapidly growing stream of information generated throughout the value chain – from digital manufacturing to products like connected cookers and washers.

“Working with data isn’t a new thing for Electrolux, but the sheer depth and breadth of today’s data offers many opportunities for us to become even more relevant to our consumers. By increasing our investment in the area, we can hone our insights, extract new knowledge and create innovative services for consumers,” says JP Iversen, Electrolux CIO.

The new team will be led by Johan Vallin, global head of data science, who joined Electrolux before the summer. It will explore potential revenue streams and other ways of getting the best value out of data as an asset. Electrolux also sees an opportunity in using data to predict maintenance, adapt product performance to fit consumer behavior and devise relevant offers for consumers.

“Data in itself doesn’t create value automatically. We need skilled people who understand what the data is saying and can interpret it into insights that are relevant to the business. This is why we are building a value-driven, use-case-by use-case, agile team,” comments Vallin.

One project is to enhance product quality by looking at data from all stages of the manufacturing process, from sourcing right through to the delivery of finished products to the retailer. Using machine learning to analyze patterns in data from sensors, manufacturing equipment and delivery tracking, Electrolux can find events that might compromise quality, address them and create a superior product for consumers.

Working with data generated from the use of appliances will require the highest level of data security, as well as a strong focus on respecting consumer privacy, Iversen says.

“We have to be completely transparent with our users about the kind of information we are able to extract and how we intend to use it. Anybody should be able to opt out if they don’t want their data to be included,” Iversen adds.