The Ground Beneath Your Feet

By Aarthi Rayapura November 14, 2016

By Christina Porter in Subscribed, Fall 2016 

How many century-old companies can you think of that are still innovating and relevant today? One such company is France-based Tarkett, a global leader of integrated flooring and sports surface solutions. The 2.7B Euro company has been providing unique flooring experiences in homes, schools, workplaces, hospitals, retail stores, hotels, and sports venues for 130 years.

A couple of years ago, Tarkett’s leadership team met with a hundred collaborators to brainstorm on the future of smart
flooring. At the end of the brainstorm, the team concluded that the floor is the “ultimate connected product.” Jean-Sebastien Moinier, Head of FloorInMotion BU at Tarkett explains, “People are barely in contact with the ceiling of a
building, but they are always in contact with the floor. It is the ultimate connected product.”

Tarkett decided to focus on how to better serve the world’s aging population, or as Moinier refers to them—“the silver economy.” The numbers pointed to a sizeable market—according to WHO, by 2050 there will be 434 million people aged over 80 years, three times more than today’s 125 million.

This makes the issue of positive aging (i.e. preserving quality of life as you get older) a real challenge as an older population often means increased falls and other health issues. Half of people aged over 80 years suffer from fall-related issues such as loss of autonomy, cognitive decline, fractures, etc. The sooner they get help, the better their chances of minimizing injury.

What if an automatic alert went out after an incident? Tarkett’s FloorInMotion service has just the solution. “We support
aged-care facilities with an information service linked to their connected flooring that notifies caregivers immediately to
incidents (falls, exits, or intrusions) in living areas and provides relevant and qualitative data in time,” explains Moinier.
Sensors built into the floors provide full detection and monitoring information on resident activity. This data is captured
via the FloorInMotion Care Real-Time Dashboard, which is used by the caregivers of Assisted, Independent, and Senior Living facilities to better serve their residents. This goes a long way in minimizing the patient or resident’s risk of injury and improving their autonomy.

And it’s not just falls that are monitored. Moinier shared an example which is probably familiar to anyone who has had to care for an aged loved one. One evening, an 85-year-old patient in an assisted care facility had to use the restroom more frequently than usual. Not wanting to be a bother, he didn’t speak about it to the nurse the next morning. But the flooring had sensed the resident’s change in activity and alerted the nurse. On examination, it was found that the resident was experiencing the early onset of pneumonia, and was thankfully treated just in time.

FloorInMotion’s subscriptions have been on the market since March 2015. Customers can start with a freemium package and upgrade to a more advanced service, including fall detection, 24 x 7 availability, advanced analytics, and real-time dashboards and monitoring. Subscribers have complete control over their billing frequency—monthly, yearly—whatever is needed.

By the end of 2016, Tarkett will have equipped 700 customers, which, given the lengthy build cycle, is a strong indicator of future success. Currently, the service is available in France and the Netherlands, with plans to expand to Australia, China, Taiwan, Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Japan, and the USA. On the business side, the FloorInMotion unit has helped Tarkett shift from being a product company to a subscription services company. What prompted this well-established and successful company to shift to a new business model? “It’s very simple. When you look at what is flooring—it is building material.

On the business side, the FloorInMotion unit has helped Tarkett shift from being a product company to a subscription services company. What prompted this well-established and successful company to shift to a new business model? “It’s very simple. When you look at what is flooring—it is building material. Either you do a one-time sale of building material (where there is a high pressure on margins) or you become a longterm solution provider.” Unlike some other building materials, customers are not going to replace their flooring every few years. In fact, the average lifetime of a flooring system in today’s healthcare facility is 20-25 years. The beauty of the connected floor is the infinite number of subscriber services that can be layered on top. So the system can provide ongoing benefits to continually deliver value to the customer and also help Tarkett grow their business.

For Moinier, the subscription business model allows Tarkett to connect patients with their caregivers and facilities. “Before, most of my contacts were technical people: facility managers, technical managers in charge of renovations, architects, etc. Now I work with medical staff and General Managers whom I can better help run their facilities. For us, the first winners must always be the residents and patients.”

So what’s next for Tarkett? Robots talking to their connected floor? “Everything is possible. Why not robots and droids?!
We have plenty of ideas about what can be connected to our flooring platform. As long as it brings additional value and
benefits to our subscribers.”

In many ways, Tarkett is creating a new product and market from scratch. At 130 years, this is only the beginning of their story.

Continue reading success stories from the Subscription Economy in the latest issue of Subscribed Magazine!