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Transformation Through Service Design – Service Design Global Conference 2013

“Is service design more in love with the process than the outcome? Do we want to be defined by processes, or outcomes and impact?” Lee Sankley provoked the audience in the Wales Millenium Center last Tuesday.

Unlike the singers and dancers that usually take the impressive stage, Lee Sankley is group design director at finance company Barclays. He spoke to an audience of over 400 people who had gathered in Cardiff from November 18 to 20 to discuss the future of service design at the 6th Service Design Global Conference. For three days the Welsh capital was humming with a mix of over 50 talks and workshops, discussions, networking and drinking.

Opening of the Service Design Global Conference 2013

Opening of SDNC13 (Photo by sprmario)

Big data and little data

Data was a principal theme of the conference. Not few were surprised when Kerry Bodine of Forrester Research pointed out how much data every one of us produces daily. More than creating original content data is also produced by sharing details with providers, receiving information from organizations and recorded data such as search queries or credit scores. As more and more information gets digitalized and sensors capture different aspects of life, we face big data which is more than humans can process. Only a small fraction of this data is used. An excellent showcase for use of big data to drive actionable insights came from Maria José Jorda Garcia of BBVA. Commerce 360 lets shop owners compare their store performance to others in the same area or sector based on financial transactions. From these insights a number of new business ideas can be derived.

However, according to Kerry Bodine a majority of organizations find it difficult to handle unstructured data in large volumes. Furthermore, she emphasized the importance of qualitative data for an understanding of the underlying reasons. In some cases little data is even more valuable for less cost and often it goes hand-in-hand with big data. Quantitative data can serve to validate findings of qualitative research while attaching numbers and currency to deliverables can help to make the business case for service design. Erik Roscam Abbing of Zilver Innovation showed an example of a customer journey map that uses quantitative data to allocate where the biggest pain is.

On the second day, Marion Fröhlich and Mauro Rego shared a method for creating actionable data dashboards in an interactive workshop. Because the visible part of the service is a result of many steps in the background, they stressed the importance of streamlining the back office. SAP’s innovative database system HANA supports decision making by putting relevant data at your fingertips in real time. SAP Design and Co-Innovation Center has developed a process that starts by analyzing roles and activities to determine which insights are most critical in key moments. After identifying the most relevant KPIs and triggers for action we got our hands on paper prototyping a sample dashboard.

Kerry Bodine warns that we are data illiterate and risk to draw the wrong conclusions from big data. She emphasizes the growing need to become fluent in big data and educate how data informs design.

In-house and external

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