Reflecting on the Internet of Things Onboard

Johan Inden, President of the Volvo Penta Marine Business, recently participated in a panel at METSTRADE 2021 on ‘The Internet of Things Onboard’. Here he shares reflections from this discussion and beyond, looking ahead to expectations on the future boating experience.

Whenever I go out to sea, I get a feeling of excitement and adventure. I get the feeling even when just hopping to the nearest island to go swimming with the kids or taking any other everyday route. The sea does that to me and it’s a great feeling of both excitement and humbleness. I believe I share this feeling with many. Because the sea has always been a world for exploration and excitement, but also challenges and risks that may occur at a moment’s notice. Mostly we use our experience to prepare for and make sure we can spend our time on the boat for enjoyment.

Today, the interest to go boating is higher than it has been for many years. We see a surge of new boaters joining together with the already experienced boaters. On top of this we see a migration towards spending less time on the water, represented by the share of day boats increasing their piece of the total market. And, if this is not enough, technology is allowing us to not only invent new ways to enhance the boating experience, but also make boating more contemporary with the times in many different ways.

As an industry, I believe we are standing in front of a pivotal time for boating. It’s an opportunity for us to transition boating into the future, making the sea accessible for even more people. Enabling people to enjoy these environments in a safe, comfortable and sustainable way is also the best way to learn to respect and live in harmony with the sensitive eco-system the oceans represent.

At Volvo Penta, we have had a strong foundation for many years in developing our products with easy boating in mind and there are many inventions coming from this. The recipe to me is a culture of innovation coupled with a profound understanding of technology and thorough boating experience across the organization, as well as, a keen ear to listen to the customers.

We aim to make the boating experience as easy, accessible and intuitive as possible, while bringing forth new features with comfort at the heart. To ensure we get more people out on the water, and have them love the sea, we need to provide an unrivaled and unique experience. Features today, like our latest Assisted Docking technology, are enablers to deliver an even easier and more car-like experience – aimed to make boating more accessible to everyone.

In our journey towards the connected boat, it is easy to look at the passenger car industry or similar industries like commercial transport. Across the Volvo Group, we have over a million connected vehicles operating across the world. What we have learned based on more than 20 years of connected products is that you have to link it very, very closely to the experience and customer value you’d want to establish. What good is a remote diagnostics system if it can’t tell me what is relevant information from a safety perspective and what is information I can act on later?

Understanding this in the unique environment is where we spend most of our time when developing new services. How do we really make sure we enrich the experience and don’t just end up shuffling data with little value. This is a boating centric process where the unique prerequisites of a boat and the customer journey of a boat owner is at the center – not the technology. Taming technology is the easy piece in this calculation.

In our strive to make life on the water even more enjoyable and introduce new people to boating - no matter their level of experience, we must always place the customer at the center. It is our responsibility as an industry to collaborate across technologies and companies to enrich the experience at sea. To me this means stretching beyond our traditional ways of doing things. All to the benefit of a growing and securing long-lasting boating business. Together, we are working towards the vision of an active life at sea, in harmony with the environments and with moments full of happy smiles and excitement.

Johan Inden, President of the Volvo Penta Marine Business

About the author

Johan Inden, President of the Volvo Penta Marine Business

Having previously served as the CTO of Volvo Penta, and as well President of Volvo Group Venture Capital he brings a wealth of experience of technology, business and innovation to the marine business. Today he also serves as the chairman of Humphree AB and on the board of CPAC Systems AB. Being a strong believer in the power of innovation and collaboration, he continuously keeps a keen eye to the start-up community emerging around the marine business.