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Author's profile photo John Ward

Telling Stories of Innovation at 3M – From Kenya to the Cloud

3M has some pretty compelling innovation stories to tell. Like how the company is helping bring light and education to some of the poorest children in Kenya.

LED.jpgOn the outskirts of Nairobi, up to 1 million people live in the tin huts and mud-walled shacks of the sprawling Kibera slum. Most of them lack access to basic services such as running water and electricity. So when night falls in Kibera, families are often left in darkness.

But 3M is helping to change that. 3M technology is used to construct portable solar LED light kits that allow many families in Kibera to light their homes for the first time. These kits use a highly reflective solar mirror film that can greatly multiple the brightest of LED lamp strips.

3M has donated enough solar mirror film for 44,000 self-sustaining lights. As a result, thousands of children in Kibera can now read and do school work even after the sun goes down.

Solar mirror film is just one way 3M technology is improving daily life for hundreds of millions of people all over the world. You can find many other examples at 3M’s Innovation Stories page.

Much More than Scotch Tape

We all know 3M for such iconic brands as Scotch tape and Post-it notes. But as this story dramatically demonstrates, the company once known as Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing goes far beyond office supplies. 3M manufactures diverse product lines that include industrial abrasives, medical components and healthcare products, safety and security equipment, optical films, electronic materials, and a wide array of consumer brands.

In total, 3M makes more than 55,000 different products which it sells in nearly 200 countries.

Innovation in the Work Place

John Kieffer, a business transformation director at 3M, has a story to tell too. His tale is about how cloud technology is helping make 3M’s sales and service professionals even more effective across this global enterprise.

“We’re a hundred-year-old company and a lot of our systems have developed from the grassroots,” explains Kieffer, “Some of our systems were not as connected as they should be. We felt the need to bring it all together.”

3M decided that a cloud-based sales solution from SAP was the kind of innovation that could provide better support for its sales force. Not only did it integrate multiple systems, but the solution also proved a natural fit with 3M’s core on-premise business systems.

Feedback from 3M’s sales professionals has been very positive. Improved productivity, for example, has been a big plus. But perhaps most importantly, the cloud solution has helped create what Kieffer calls, “an opportunity for better collaboration between our sales professionals, our technical service, and our customer service people to more effectively solve problems for our customers.”

And after all, solving customer problems is at the heart of 3M’s passion for innovation.

Sometimes that solution can be is as simple as the piece of transparent tape you used to wrap up your child’s birthday present. But other times, that solution is the difference between night and day.

To hear more of John Kieffer’s story, please watch this video, and join me on Twitter at @JohnGWard3.

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Hi John!

      I found your article really helpful, thanks for sharing!

      I am doing research in a customer that shares a lot of similarities with 3M, can you give me some advice in where or to whom I should address if I want to research 3M Business Case?

      Thanks in advance and look forward to keep in touch!

      Author's profile photo John Ward
      John Ward
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Liliana,

      I'm glad you found the article useful. I will find a good contact for you and get back to you. Thanks, again.