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We stand at the brink of a new age fueled by the process of urbanization. In fact, the United Nations estimates that over two thirds of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. That is not a small number by any stretch of the imagination and care must be taken to ensure that urban centers are able to handle these capacities. More and more people in urban centers are traveling to work every day, to pick up their children at school, or are using airports or other public transportation to visit families and friends. More and more aging citizens are looking at improving their life by moving to accessible urban environments. Our cities have to be great places to live, work and commute in. And for this to happen, investments must be made in high-end technologies and services.
At KONE, from data collection, analytics and mobile solutions provided directly to customers to digital tools that support our own employees in keeping customers satisfied, we are staying at the cutting edge of possibilities. With 24/7 Connected Services, for example, we can not only make sure elevators or escalators are effective, transporting users as safely, reliably, comfortably and quickly as possible, we can predict and prevent problems before they occur. Establishing instant communications channels with our customers gives them the ease of keeping their own customers, the end users, informed in real time. Today we are also seeking new technological solutions to create a more enjoyable experience for users as they move between and inside buildings.
In Europe and America, ongoing construction is both creating new customers and changing the needs of existing ones. The same holds true in the Middle East, Africa and Asia – particularly in China – which have been riding a wave of impressive development. As urbanization brings new equipment into the picture as well as places increased demands on existing equipment, customers worldwide are becoming much more farsighted about the role of maintenance services. More than ever before, they are taking into consideration the value of their equipment over the entire lifetime of the building – a pro-maintenance mindset that, of course, helps lay a positive foundation for working with KONE services.
The strategy for keeping pace with this expansion has been to maintain a razor-sharp focus on our service culture, continuously investing in the capacities and capabilities of our people to ensure that the customers’ needs remain central. The value of these efforts is already clear. Not only has customer feedback been overwhelmingly positive, our service business has recently been growing faster than the markets themselves. In meeting these expectations, we remain committed to providing the best People Flow services – ease, effectiveness and experience – over the full life cycle of the building.
The value of working side by side with customers is illustrated in for example Staples Center, an events arena in Los Angeles; Humlegården’s high-end office buildings in Stockholm; and ISS Global’s headquarters in Copenhagen. These examples highlight both the diversity of our customers and the importance of understanding their specific needs.
Technology will continue to be a key enabler, but what we're also seeing is that service business is ultimately a people business. Our adoption of new technologies has helped us gauge the needs of each customer in a holistic manner. Armed with this deeper understanding of our customers’ needs, we can work with them to develop and provide truly tailor-made solutions. After all, as the saying goes, one size does not fit all.