Armi Temmes: Responsibility through innovation
Saving natural resources in the value chain starts from considering the product’s use in the first place. The need may remain while the products change. Landline telephones and films have disappeared, and so will also light bulbs soon. New products also change business models; some examples are given below.
Services generate net sales without natural resources A service provided also helps understand customers’ real needs. Service and maintenance of lifts account for about half of Kone’s net sales, while also providing information on how the company’s lifts are working. Sometimes a product is completely replaced by a service and the user is not interested in what kind of device does the job. The professional use of equipment also generates savings compared to their use at home. The consumption of water, energy and detergent, for example, is low in laundries.
In the circular economy, the ideal is a waste-free society
In addition to flea markets, the circular economy has also generated business. Car and machine components are reprocessed; a fixed gearbox that is nearly as good as new may be available at a lower price and faster than a new one. There is also repaired second hand furniture on sale. A good market for repaired products also promotes the sales of original ones.
In the sharing economy, you don’t need to own everything
The most important thing is that the product is available for use whenever needed. Web applications help us do increasingly what people living in country villages used to do. We borrow things that we need only occasionally − home tools, hobby equipment or vehicles − from our neighbours. A variety of small firms have been set up to create trading sites.
Innovators are hecklers
At the turn of the millennium, editors who were working to develop an online newspaper and tried to arouse enthusiasm among their colleagues were met with harsh comments:”Go away, we have to finish this proper paper”. Now these weird types represent the growing mainstream. Innovators also propose things that current customers have not yet realized they might want. As electronic memory systems emerged, the companies that relied on their major customers’ wishes in development work lost the game along with these customers.
In the changing world, the existing operators have to be alert so as not to lose their positions. Let’s just allow innovators create disturbance in the area of responsibility. It pays off in the long run.
Armi Temmes is Professor of Practice, at Aalto University, School of Economics, after a long career in industry. She has always been enthusiastic about working at the interface of research and practice. The current research focuses on innovations that save energy and natural resources. She teaches sustainable development in business both as an introduction to all students and to those specialising in sustainable development .