The Evolution of a Service Concept – Case FORGE

The course New Service Development and Innovative Business Models brought us first real life experience in service innovation and design by working in groups on an existing service concept offered by FORGE Service Lab. FORGE, mothered by Digile, is a non-profit accelerator for digital service creation with the ultimate goal to assist boosting the internationalization of Finnish companies. Being still a young business, FORGE asked for our ideas to validate or challenge their value proposition and how to strengthen the role of Service Design in their offering.

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At first, our team struggled with what seemed to be a very vague service idea and to fully understand what FORGE actually wants to offer to what kind of customers. A lot of time was spent trying to shed more light onto this by discussions within our group and together with a FORGE representative. None of this seemed to move us forward. In retrospect this was a good thing – working in service design, this will be a standard situation one should embrace in order to let creativity run free without getting caught up in trying to figure out everything in the very beginning of the process.

In conjunction with the course Deep Customer Insights through Ethnographic Research our team set out to conduct interviews with potential FORGE customers or organizations that could help bring more clarity to the needs of Finnish companies when it comes to developing digital services. We individually interviewed a technology company, the City of Helsinki, a luxury watch manufacturer, a representative from hospitality management, and a co-housing company. Even though the interviews mainly brought us insights speaking against the need for a service like FORGE’s, we took this as a great starting point to find ideas on how to improve the offering, starting from the value proposition.

A great help in this was working with CoCo Cosmos and simultaneously with the service logic business model canvas. Through CoCo we managed to create a clear service flow from a company’s idea for a new digital service, their need to validate this idea and to find the right partners to develop it further, until commercializing the now existing new digital service. The service logic business model canvas help us to figure out the “what’s really in it for me” part from customer perspective.

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Image: CoCo Cosmos – Evolution of FORGE’s service idea

Visualizing the digital service development journey via CoCo enabled us to realize that there are different building blocks and the thought arose that customers should be able to pick the blocks they need and drop others. In addition, we realized that a FORGE customer does not just want to develop a digital service. The customer wants to find out if this digital service will bring profit in the end. We took this point as one of the main items used to develop FORGE’s offering and value proposition further.

After presenting our enhanced service concept and value propositions, we received additional feedback from FORGE and based on that finalized our proposal for them. This concluded our journey through a real life service design project from an fuzzy starting point to conducting interviews over to using service design tools to bring order to the still fuzzy chaos and to finally uncover a service flow with room for improvements. What studying service innovation and design has taught us so far was confirmed during this hands-on experience with FORGE: There is always room for improvement and service companies should welcome this fact to keep evolving and growing.

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Image: FORGE in a visual nutshell, according to us 

By Corina Maiwald, SID student


References

Ojasalo, K. & Ojasalo, J. 2015. Adapting Business Model Thinking to Service Logic: An Empirical Study on Developing a Service Design Tool. In Gummerus, J. & von Koskull, C. (eds.) The Nordic School – Alternative Perspectives on Marketing and Service Management. Helsinki, Finland: Publications of Hanken School of Economics. (in print).

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