Driven by innovation

 

Pekka Metsi, CEO, Granlund talks about the company, its software solutions and the tie-up with Suhail Bahwan Group. Mayank Singh reports

IT

What are Granlund’s main lines of business and what value does the company offer it’s customers?

Granlund has a history of 58 years, it started as a family owned company and it is now called a partner company as all the owners are working in the company. Granlund has three main business areas – software which is presently the most international of our businesses. Our software deals with the operation and maintenance of buildings. It is a computerised maintenance management system (CMMS). We also have an engineering business covering mechanical, electrical and plumbing – we do plumbing, heating and lighting systems. We are designers in the engineering business. Granlund also has a consulting business and like in our software business, energy efficiency is a major issue. We help building owners and service companies to save energy by using advanced technology in their buildings in the most effective way.

Granlund has entered into a Value Added Reseller (VAR) agreement with Bahwan IT. What is the nature of this agreement?

The agreement is about our software – Granlund Manager, which is the name of our software product which helps in saving energy and costs in buildings. It organises the maintenance of the building and is like an ERP of buildings. With Granlund Manager’s help one can organise the maintenance and energy usage of buildings, making sure that things work in an optimised fashion. The inferences are based on real time data of the building incorporating the indoor conditions, capability of the technical systems, feedback from the users of the building, based on this data you can manage your building.

Is Granlund Manager an intelligent system, and how long does it take to install?

It is an intelligent system, we have been in the software business for 20 plus years and our basic idea is that the knowledge that we have gained about the technical systems in the software business from building owners should be easily implementable. Some of these heavy systems take months to implement, but we are aware that real estate people are busy and they don’t have the luxury of time, so these systems need to be implemented in a matter of hours or days. The other thing is that while using this system you need to go deeper and deeper.

You have had this software system for 20 years. In how many countries and companies has the solution been deployed?

We have 1,000 companies using this system in 30 countries. It is software as a service (SAAS) and is based in Cloud. A client does not need a license as they can buy it on a monthly basis. Governments are big users as typically they own a large number of buildings worldwide. We also have some big multinational industrial companies like ABB, Nokia etc. as clients. There are many Scandinavian hotel chains that are using it. The Hilton Group has implemented Granlund Manager in China.

What are the factors that have encouraged Granlund to come to Oman? How do you rate the prospects of the market for such a software solution?

I think the market is promising. If you look at the GCC and in countries like China, there has been a boom in construction over the last couple of decades. Companies have so far been focused on investment and not on the cost of doing operations efficiently, and this is becoming imperative as the boom is still there but it is not at the same high levels as the yesteryears. Energy prices and the cost of labour is going up, which is good news for us, as it trains the spotlight on cutting costs and that’s why I think the timing is good for us.

In Oman, the subsidy for power consumption by commercial and industrial establishments have been removed making companies more conscious about saving costs. What kind of savings can they expect from Granlund Manager?

For example, it brings about a 30 per cent saving in energy in three months. Our government in Finland has 7,000 buildings and their target is to save one million euros per year (RO473,706) in operations and maintenance. The usage of space has to be much more efficient, but the maintenance of energy is a very important part of the equation.

You mentioned that the solution can be implemented in a short span. Can you give us details in terms of days or weeks that it would take to get Granlund Manager up and running?

It is pretty effective. If you have 7,000 buildings like the government of Finland then it may take sometime but otherwise it is pretty fast. For example, we are doing a project for the biggest grocery and hotel chain in Finland with 1,600 buildings. The idea is to have 50 per cent of those buildings in our system before the summer holidays. Overall, we will take a couple of months to install the solution in around 1,600 buildings, so on an average one building will take a few days or a week or two based on how easy it is to get input data for the system.

Which are the countries in the GCC where Granlund has a market presence?

We have our regional head office in Dubai and Granlund does some work in UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. We have had a presence in the GCC for a few years, but we still need to talk more about the need for having systems like Granlund Manager in the market. As of now there are very few such solutions in the market, but with our roadshows and ongoing efforts things are much better.

There is a number of such products that have come to the market in the last year, due to a withdrawal of subsidies. How is your solution better than those of others?

We have 20 years of experience in this field. Over these years we have improved the product and it today has many more tools. Second is the effectiveness of implementation. If an organisation has to invest a lot of money in implementing a solution then it is not advisable, but we have in house consultants who can support implementation process. It is easy to start using the solution, but if you want to go deeper into energy efficiency and as more data gets collected, things can become better and efficient over time.

What kind of after sales support would you be providing customers?

We are supporting Suhail Bahwan Group and they will in turn be supporting the end customer.

Can you share Granlund’s annual turnover figures?

We are in the range of 100mn euros (RO47.33mn) per year.

Are you confident about Granlund Manager’s prospects in Oman?

Yes we are, Suhail Bahwan Group are exactly the right partner for us in this market. They are very strong and are also keen to grow this business as it is a new venture for them.

With a 20-year old legacy, how do you make sure that Granlund does not lose its drive for innovation?

Though we are a 20 year old company, we still feel like a startup. We want to be very innovative and do so in cooperation with other companies. Globally the productivity levels in real estate and the construction industry has been quite low, but with technology and software solutions such as IOT, Building Information Models (BIM), augmented reality, machine learning we are very excited the industry. Software and good data management will direct our business in the desirable direction. There will be less of manual work and more will be done in software and that is something that we will do with our partner in Oman. Overall, we reinvest seven per cent of our turnover into R&D every year. In addition we get external funding as a part of the European Union and some funding from our own government in Finland.


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