Technology advances have changed the way home appliance manufacturers are designing, building and marketing products. The effect of technology innovation has been felt across the industry, affecting products, the customer experience, and the appliance supply chain.
In this special HomeWork series, AHAM speaks with senior technology leaders from AHAM member companies that were scheduled to participate in AHAM’s Tech at the Top panel during the AHAM annual member meeting. Their insights on supply chain innovation, the retail experience, new business models and connecting with the consumer are not to be missed. Over the next four months, enjoy this special Technology Leadership Series of HomeWork!
The first installment of AHAM’s special Homework series features Elena Breda, Senior Vice President Global Product Category Food Preservation, Electrolux.
What is the most important technological development to affect your company in the past decade?
Information technology, which has enabled process automation, data analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, etc., has brought digitalization across all processes from product development, manufacturing, supply chain, sales channels and new business models. This ultimately delivers enhanced consumer experiences, new ways of interacting with products, and shifts the focus from single units to ecosystem. All of this has happened in a more efficient and sustainable way.
How has technology affected your company’s approach to partnering entities outside the traditional appliance sector?
Digitalization has also driven new type of partnerships to deliver on higher consumer expectations.
In clothing care, we are partnering with detergent and clothes manufacturers to help consumers take care of their favorite garments so that they last longer, minimizing the impact on the environment. In taste, we are partnering with online platforms that provide step-by-step recipes to flawlessly create great tasting experiences every time, tailored to individual needs and with minimum effort. This will help consumers make sustainable eating their preferred choice and minimize food waste.
How has digital brought your company closer to the consumer?
Thanks to digital, our products, and what others think of them, are more visible to consumers. They also have more access to our products through new sales channels. This allows us to establish a closer connection with consumers, to better understand their needs and expectations and address them in a more relevant way.
What will be the most important technological development to impact the industry in the coming decade?
Sustainability and democratization of benefits to a wider range of products are clear trends.
Some examples of this are more extensive use of recycled materials and bio-materials, more efficient and lower cost compressors and motors, and new technologies to keep food fresh for longer and avoid food waste
In your opinion, what is the most important role of a technology leader within an appliance manufacturing company?
Contributing to the worldwide sustainability agenda.
What will be the biggest innovation as a result of COVID-19?
We are seeing several changes in consumer behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumers are spending more time at home, online shopping is becoming even more relevant, and the focus on hygiene is paramount. We are studying these changes to assess which ones are temporary and which ones will stick, and we are looking into the innovation opportunities around them.
Share your secrets to having a productive day. Has widespread teleworking changed your routine?
My “secrets” to a productive day are: Wake up in the morning, energize myself with 10 minutes of yoga, set or refresh clear objectives for the day and … go for them! Teleworking has surely affected ways of working, interacting with others, and keeping strong social connections, which now are all done digitally. It is important to leverage different platforms and communication channels, depending on the purpose. Working from home also poses a challenge to keep a clear distinction between work and personal life. Keeping routines is key to maintain a good work-life balance, high productivity and personal wellbeing
What is the best career advice you have ever received?
Get your “personal brand” known, who you are and what your “promise” is, and have a clear idea in mind of where you want to get.
Name the appliance you cannot live without.
I love good food and I hate wasting food. And my Frigidaire Gallery 21.8cf 4-door counter depth french door refrigerator helps me with both. In fact, it preserves ingredients’ taste, texture, color and nutrition level for longer, resulting in great tasting meals and minimized waste.
Elena Breda joined Electrolux in 2002 and has strong experience in sales and marketing strategy and execution, innovation, product portfolio management and product development. She has contributed to the success of different product launches and profitability turnarounds and is skilled in obtaining and interpreting the voice of consumers to create product roadmaps and develop competitive strategies. Elena is Italian and has a master’s degree in electronic engineering and a Ph.D in biomedical engineering.