Elevator 4.0 – not only a box that goes up and down

written by PIERRE NJEIM

I remember it like it was yesterday.

7 years earlier I sat with my family in the “Salon” and broke the news: I’m going to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to sell elevators!

Lots and lots of this.

Shock-and-awe is how I decided to break the news…

Nothing but dropped jaws and finally, my spunky sister said it: We took you through engineering school so you could go to the desert and sell a box on a string that goes up and down!?

That is how I launched my career ladies and gentlemen, selling, in the “desert”, a box and a string that goes up and down. What my family failed to realize back then, which I myself most definitely had envisioned, was that the elevator-escalator tribe our coach Wayne keeps referring to, would give me everything I have now (hindsight is 20-20 as they say).

I’ve met countless amazing people across the world, learned more about life and business than I could ever have imagined, traveled to over a dozen countries and got the qualifications to transition into my current blockbuster.

First photo here was the APEX of an Executive level workshop with Microsoft in “Vegas Babay!” The objective was to envision our potential POC, as referred to in today’s agile world, or proof of concept for those who are not fond of acronyms, for a remote learning application on HOLOLENS. Yes, we’re talking about next level training programs here, augmented reality and sweets.

Second up we have a photo at the HQ in Essen, where I brought in gamification suppliers mainly based in Europe to enlighten our policy and decision makers.

Last but not least was an incredible international managers program organized by the learning and development organization of in Madrid where we got hands on exposure to elevator installation methods, the old and the new, and executives from across the globe meeting up with us and sharing their strategic and operational vision.

Is it really only a box on a string that goes up and down …

First of all big sis, I didn’t only sell the box on a string, I also sold the moving staircase they call an escalator so take that! 

Alright I’ve digressed enough, time to lock in why I’m here …

My role is an innovator and my goal is not to tell you about me and my life (more than what I’ve done thus far), I want to take you through the many innovations I can mention that currently span the elevator-escalator tribe and give you some ideas about those innovations that might be possible in the future.

And I’ll start with ARTIFICAL INTELLIGENCE: Ouuuuuhhhh!

In my world, the world of digital academia, tech startups in Paris and digital consulting, AI is everywhere. It is worn with pride. It spikes stocks. Works like magic.

 AI is the sexy, the new (not really), but still the now.

Here’s a quick definition from Wikipedia: In computer scienceartificial intelligence (AI), sometimes called machine intelligence, is intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans and other animals.

So how does this relate to our tribe you may ask? And bear with me through this seemingly mundane, but I promise useful description.

We use escalators, elevators, walkways everyday of our life. We also use other vertical and horizontal transportation devices that do not talk to each other. We use them in our apartment buildings, our office buildings, schools, hospitals, airports, roads, everywhere. We use them at times in specific recurrent time intervals, and at others just erratically.

We click the button twice and three times and in some cases just keep pressing that button, if we feel the elevator is delayed. We sometimes get stuck in an elevator, and in rare cases, get hurt because of the vehicle.

For someone into disrupting a traditional industry, this is just prime grounds for AI here.  

Try visualizing this:

My autonomous car in the world of tomorrow, or my smart car in today’s world signals the elevator the exact time I will be in any specific building and for any specific purpose. In some cases, the car tells me to which elevator to head to before exiting the car (can be another story about a love affair between my car and the elevator).

The selected elevator does its final drop-off and goes to the ground floor to waits for my biological or digital signal and close the doors.  I don’t even need to press a button since the elevator already knows where I want to go.

It plays my favorite music which it already had anticipated based on my regular playlists and dims the lights to my liking based on my living room’s preferred lighting (can be another story about a love affair between my elevator and my home). It can even pump in a hint of the smells that I like the most since it already knows this much about me.

All my senses are stimulated for those seconds I ride in the elevator car.

Now imagine this on a system wide, global scale.

  • The true meaning of minimum waiting times.
  • The true meaning of a wonderful elevator experience.
  • All by introducing the elements of AI into the elevator experience.

If you feel that my story is just too out there, for that box on a string which goes up and down, I tell you this: It is doable today, not tomorrow, it is available right now.

Music streaming companies like Deezer already have a feature in their application called “Flow” which anticipates the type of music the listener would like to listen to at any given time during the day while working out, sleeping, commuting etc…

Google Home already connects all electrical appliances at your home to one single hub which allows for remote monitoring and control as well as machine learning for preferred habits.

Elon Musk already produces a smart autonomous car that connects to your home or your office where it can send and receive signals.

Elevator companies already have algorithms which anticipate demand on a daily basis and plan for traffic during the day.

Now imagine uniting all the above under the umbrella of an AI. Imagine someone working on aggregating transportation and preferences for one seem-less experience from the moment you open your eyes in the morning to the moment you close them at night thereby freeing you up to only think about and do the important things during your day.

Yes, this is the dream, the dream that can be reached leveraging the leaps in computing power the last decades have experienced and hence the recent boom in AI companies globally.

Now let’s call on the cheque-writers and ask for the enlightenment to believe in a project which doesn’t tackle the need of today and subsequently invest resources into developing it, which is not necessarily the most traditional of projects in elevator companies and will need a whole new set of skills and competencies from those involved.

Who will manage these projects and how is another topic for another day.

This is Pierre …”P”… Njeim signing off… thanks for reading!

Note from the Coach …

Thanks Pierre – its a great article and the future looks very intriguing. I’m sure there are many out there a little nervous about what this near future looks like for them and our tribe. We look forward to your next article and welcome others to share their thoughts and comments on this.