Case Study

Modernizing elevators through open innovation

About KONE

The global elevator market is expected to grow from $88 billion to $125 billion by 2021. That’s a steep rise.

This market expansion will provide a massive opportunity for elevator manufacturers who can develop innovative, next-gen smart elevators.

KONE, one of the world’s largest elevator manufacturers, took an interesting approach of leveraging the open-innovation model to capitalize on the market expansion. It partnered with IBM to launch a hackathon-based innovation campaign.

2300+ Developers

686 Teams

52 Applications built

What’s KONE's story?

Headquartered in Finland, KONE is an international engineering and service company employing roughly 52,000+ personnel globally. Founded in 1910, it is currently the fourth largest manufacturer of elevators and escalators worldwide. KONE provides local service in over 50 countries and has consistently been one of the most innovative companies in Europe and the rest of the world.


Innovate on the key driving trends to modernize elevators

Open innovation

The key to a successful open-innovation campaign is defining the themes/areas of innovation and presenting a clear problem statement for the participants to work on.

KONE narrowed down the key market drivers that would shape the future of the elevator market. The themes and problem statement were chosen based on these drivers.

KONE partnered with IBM, which provided the developers with access to the IBM Bluemix platform that was used to build applications.

The market drivers

1. Smart elevators

One trend in the market is the increase in smart elevators. A smart elevator utilizes different sensors to recognize the ongoing activity of its components. This data is validated and sent to an application, which then processes the data in real-time for various benefits.

2. Safety and security

As the regulations and the safety code for elevators and escalators are made more stringent, elevators must be modernized or replaced to meet new requirements.

3. Energy efficiency

Elevators and escalators represent 3–7% of a building’s energy consumption. There is a lot of potential for considerable cost and energy savings.


  • Comprehensive innovation platform that enables open innovation
  • Outreach to the developer community

Solution: HackerEarth Sprint

HackerEarth Sprint, HackerEarth’s innovation management software, helped KONE to ideate, shortlist ideas, and conduct a hackathon.

The platform made it easy for KONE to submit formats, create judging parameters, and assign scores to each parameter thus allowing them to manage the judging process efficiently. One of the biggest challenges was reaching out to the developer community and that was made simple by leveraging the million plus developers in the HackerEarth community.


Of the 52 applications built, KONE shortlisted the top 10 teams from the Phase 2 and they will go to KONE’s Chennai R&D center for the final Phase 3 round and work on actual elevators to showcase their ideas and build something to make People Flow® more effective and smarter. The winning ideas were chosen based on Novelty, Design, Technical Intelligence, and Business Impact and were awarded a cash prize of $10,000.

The winning idea

Cloud-based, elevator health-monitoring system

The winning solution is a smart, cloud-based, health-monitoring system for elevators. It uses Machine Learning to predict problems before they happen. This predictive analysis and real-time diagnostics will be made available to technicians, engineers, and building owners through a web-based dashboard. This information can be used to deploy smart, data-driven, maintenance strategies thus eliminating downtime and disruption in people flow.

  • Plug and play deployment
  • Continuous model delivery using IBM
  • Bluemix and data science
  • Less downtime, more satisfaction
  • Smart collaborative management
  • Real-time notifications

Innovate and build a better business