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The Informed Consumer and Insights about Insights

Insight – inspiration – vision. Those were the some of the magic words mentioned at the Informed Consumer study research in Stockholm. The study is conducted by a Nordic insight agency Kuudes and the content consists of current and future trends and motives underlying consumer behavior. The results of the study were first presented in the beautiful Fotografiska museum on Valentines day 2017, and in addition to the release of the results fantastic quest speakers were there to inspire the enthusiastic international audience.

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The first speaker, Chairman & Advisor from Berghs School of Communication Pär Lager woke everybody up by stating that “The opposite may also be true”. His big question was how to constructively find our the other possible truths that exist in every problem and solution. Insights play a big role in finding the opposite truths, and Lager framed that as outside driven company culture, which means that consumers, their behavior, motives and consumer trends should always come first.

An example used by Lager was Amazon. In the 2009 financial crisis they were able to grow substantially, and did that by selling something that has always existed in a channel that was not new. What was new however was the way they were able to capitalize on the consumer behaviors and to build new offerings by combining existing technologies to build a unique marketplace. The example is of course revolutionary and often cited, but it clearly states what can be done with a clever use of insights.

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According to Lager, insights need openness to change, and without that they are useless. It’s good to remember that even though the world is moving fast, many things still evolve very slowly. Because of that there is a great risk to get stuck in the old ways, and that is of course to be avoided at all cost. And again, this is where the alternative scenarios come to play!

Next up Head of Consumer Design at Alra, Tytti-Lotta Ojala inspired us with her talk about brand-led innovation and the role of insight in that. From a real-time survey done during her speech, it was quite clear that what’s missing from organizations when it comes to making good innovations are bold decisions. Those can be done by backing them up with clear insights and vision about the consumer and the future. Ojala stated that in order to have successful insights, they need to be defined somehow. Organizations need to think about what insights mean for them, and what do they try to capture with insights. Only then can the organization talk the same language.

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For Ojala, insight is a vessel for engaging creativity. It is not a fact, but rather a vision, and indeed needs visionary mindset and creativity to be successful. Insights should inspire people in the companies to build brands their consumers grow to love. Ojala also stated that the stronger the value proposition of the product is, the less you need to do to get noticed. A strong proposition stands out from the competitors and catches attention, but you have to think big and try to change the game. This is the way to create love from the consumers.

Last but not least was time to release the findings from the Informed Consumer study. The results contain 7 consumer segments and 3 underlying trends in consumer mindsets: significance, self-importance and moderation.

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Significance is the need to understand our purpose, and in consumption behaviors that means that the consumers are looking for significance in their choices. This is often done by grounding daily choices to personal values, which can of course vary greatly. Brands that are able to take a stand and be authentic are interesting to people looking for significance, and in fact 58% of consumers want authenticity form their products!

Self-importance is more about creativity and self-expression, and according to the study 54% of consumers value creativity and trendiness in daily life. Consumption is then focused more in creating meaning and experiences, not just fulfilling basic needs. Individuality and status are drivers for consumption.

Moderation is about loyalty, modesty and longer relationships with brands. Consumption is often cautious and consumers want to make smart choices. Routines play a part of this trend, and 75% of the consumers say that they make choices based on routines. Minimal but still good quality is important, and cutting down on less important things can be considered a pleasure in itself.

There results presented were from the Swedish study, and obviously there are differences between cultures. Kuudes has previously conducted a similar study in Finland, you can find the results here. A highly recommended read!

Legal Design Summit

Legal design is a new hot topic in service design domain globally – and also in Finland. Dottir, a law firm, and Hellon, a service design firm, organized the first ever Legal Design Summit in Finland on 16.11. at the University of Helsinki.

In the opening speech it was mentioned that legal design is not only important for companies who constantly seek competitive advantages – it is also a growing interest of the public sector. From the Finnish ministries, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment is a pioneer in the field of legal design; in a current law-making process, there are not only jurists in the group but also other experts – and also one service designer!

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Legal Design simply means that a legal writings (a law text, contract etc). are formulated and designed so that it is easy to understand. Legal design is both information design and communication design.

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NBF16 – my takeaways

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Last year I attended Nordic Business Forum 2015 thru the live stream and it was an amazing experience. I was so stoked that had to buy a NBF16 seminar pass right away –  I wanted to experience it physically, to hear the keynote speakers live, meet people and be part of the buzz.

Now, after digesting the whole experience for 2 weeks, I’d like to share some of my learnings with you. The four things that are still on my mind are:

Do, do, do =  Only action makes inspiration come true, execution is everything

Choose to matter = Everyone of us is the change, don’t wait for it to happen

Attention on solutions = Solve a problem, don’t concentrate on egos

Values & Trust = Employees 1st, customers 2nd

The main themes at the Nordic Business Forum 2016 (NBF16) were marketing, digitalization and culture . Two days, almost 6,000 people, tens of nationalities – the event was bigger than ever. And well worth the investment in time and money. Full agenda can be found at NBF16.

On marketing and change

Marketing is a service, an emotion and about making a connection. Today mass anything is dead, even niche groups are big enough to target. Scott Galloway continues:

  1. The young and healthy have left the building (=tv). 74% would cancel Netflix if there were ads. The price of freedom – adfree world – is a couple dollars.
  2. Store is the number 1 factor influencing the purchase decision – next come search, CRM and social.
  3. Ratio, heart and genitals drive the decisions. Technology helps reduce pain when you’ve first identified the actual pain points.
  4. Car is a service, Google is a spiritual guide and FB’s for love, empathy and sharing.

His final words were that “lots of things are happening that are not good for us”. Privacy issues and tax evasion are threats if you’re not transparent.

Peter Diamantes asked which problem do you want to solve. Solve and share it – like Uber. Everybody has potential to become extraordinary problem solver with latest tools around like sensors, 3D printing, virtual & artificial reality, genetics etc. But how to the unlock passion to do this?  Unfortunately our governments are the slowest to change as they are the most linear organizations on the planet. But even they can’t regulate against change in the end. We – the people – are the change, in the past citizens have started the biggest changes. And what’s not possible today, will be possible tomorrow.

Gary Vaynerchuk started his keynote stating that we’re still grossly overspending on stuff that we’ve done before. For example by using tv ads to interrupt storytelling. Everything should be about creating value. Communication drives everything and you can only learn by doing. Only action creates results, not inspiration. Do, do, do – test, test, test – and do it again. Try out all the new stuff and think how this could help your business. Create a culture where your employees are better than the competition and figure out a firing policy as well.

This was the first time I heard the godfather of creativity, Seth Godin of the Purple Cow, live. For him marketing is all about creating experience. So are you’re creating something worth mentioning? He focused on the value of teamwork, building trust, co-creation and sharing ideas – a connection economy. Sounds familiar to a service designer.   A few phrases of his that resonated with me:

  • There no such thing as a writer’s block – just bad habits and reluctance to dance with fear.
  • It’s all about creating marketing together, being fully human. Sow ubana – I see you.
  • There are not enough bad ideas to find a few good ones.
  • Do you want to make art or be a copycat?
  • Will you to choose matter?

And of course I have to share his picture of bats having a cocktail party. Certainly made me think of these creatures in a different way.

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Vineet Nayar on culture

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Digitalising Everything

On August 18th I had the pleasure to participate in Aalto University’s annual Make it Digital! event. Having visited the event already last year I greatly enjoyed both the event’s and the university’s focus on the Internet of Things – its impact on transforming business models, enhancing customer centricity, and the application of service design were the themes which I was looking forward to this year. Aalto has clearly understood that digitalisation is the way forward, with more than 100 professors being involved in the subject and ICT in general, and good ties that bring students and researchers together with relevent businesses.

“The technology is ready…are we? We have no choice, we have to take control.”

This year’s keynote presentation by Dr. Martin Curly, Professor and Former Director of Intel Labs Europe, provided an overview of what it means to make everything digital. He shed light on three colliding key mega trends the world is seeing right now: Digital transformation, mass collaboration, and sustainability. He emphasized that industries which were established and shaped during over a century are now going to be re-architected in just under one decade by these trends and the new business models they make possible.

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Looking at digital transformation, powered by the Internet of Things (IoT), businesses switch from manufacturing and selling products to offering intelligent services to their customers. The IoT further means that products are not just physical objects anymore. They also have a digital side which is actually much more important than the mere physical object. The digital counterpart, enabled by IoT platforms, collects, stores, analyses and controls all kinds of information coming from the object, its environment and how it is being used by its owner. This technological leap enables mass collaboration: people to people, people to machines, machines to people, and machines to machines. It brings a major change in our interaction with everyone and everything.

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The CLUMSY Manifesto

This text is about not only looking at design from the perspective of care, but also about reclaiming agility for what it actually is. Too often, “failing fast”, “failing early” and “failing often” are nowadays applied as excuses for not thinking things through, rather than as actual design agility where iterations improve the service being developed, and where people really learn from their mistakes.

The CLUMSY Manifesto highly respects agility. It is not an objection, but a productive counterpoint. I believe that the problems underlying the current misuses of agility are the same that systems scientists like Oliver and Langford described over three decades ago: the user experience and the design experience may not be the same. Service Design addresses this gap well, but as soon as it collides with existing practices in organizations, its impact may start to wither. Like cultures eat strategy, systems architecture sure as hell eats user experiences. To put it stereotypically, left brain has a tendency to veto the right in any large scale design, unless there are people present who are adept in both modes of thinking. To foster such processes, the CLUMSY Manifesto was born.

CLUMSY design should be:

Careful. No amount of failing fast will do good if the key failure was done before the ideation phase. That failure may be for example not taking into account existing legislation, APIs, user patterns, value ecosystems, or upcoming trends, or taking those into account but not trying to alter them sufficiently. Being careful does not mean checking absolutely everything in advance, nor a lack of taking risks. It means not using “we’ll sort it out later” as an excuse for being intellectually lazy.

Liberating. With the background research properly done and applied, design is free to concentrate on that which is possible, and on changing the realms of possibility by e.g., lobbying and network forming. Restrictions foster creativity and in time even impossibilities can be achieved. Those who speak of limitations should be treated as a loyal opposition, not obstructions to be overcome. Keep the “Yes, and…” in active use.

User-centered. Users should be present at all times in the design process, either for real or as extrapolations from sufficient field research, represented through things such as stories and personas. Even a single omission can turn user experiences into process flowchart arrows, and getting the real user back into the implied user can be very difficult.

Marketable. There is no point in creating a great product or service if it does not reach a sufficient number of users. Marginal popularity and cult status may feel great, but rarely carries a societal impact. Especially not in the short term – and companies tend to kill off projects that only result in something ten years later. Same way as basic research is not appreciated without obvious USPs, despite its crucial importance in the long run, result visibility is mandatory for most designs. If it is the customer who defines the value of a service, design is effectively worthless if it never reaches the market proper where its value is ultimately determined.

SYmbiotic. No successful design exists in a vacuum. The ecosystem has to be advantageous to the design, and the design in turn for the ecosystems and at least some of their value networks. If it is not, either the design or the ecosystem has to change. Likewise, care and agility have to exist in symbiosis, if we are to create something that is successful, optimal and as user-friendly as possible.

Herbert Simon wrote in the 60’s that design is really about adjusting an internal process of some tool or concept to fit the outside reality. As service and user experience designers we are particularly well equipped in both tools and perspectives to be able to facilitate such alignment. Let us thus be agile and clumsy at the same time. Humans usually are, and that’s for whom we are designing.

J. Tuomas Harviainen
(The author teaches business science and information systems, holds a Ph.D. from the University of Tampere, and is a recent graduate of the Laurea SID MBA program.)

THE FUTURE OF SERVICES – VIEWPOINTS FROM LEADING SERVICE PROFESSIONALS

I had a great time at the Aalto Service Factory (ASF) that held its final event to celebrate the six years of its existence. To those who don’t know ASF, it is an open collaboration platform for service research and education atthe Aalto University.

First we learnt about the ASF network and its activities from Virpi Tuunainen and Minna-Kaarina Forssén, who held the opening presentations. It was interesting for me to find out what everything ASF does while concentrating on three target groups – researchers and teachers, students and practitioners. It organizes research presentation events called ASF Meets & Talks and events for sharing research that go by the name of Networking Evening Seminars. It has the 300 member strong ASF club, it publishes the quarterly ASF Newsletter with topics on service domain news and the monthly ASF blog with practice-oriented articles. Furthermore, ASF hosts the Researchers´ Breakfasts and another breakfast event called Early Birds that aim to build research consortiums.

 

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Minna-Kaarina Forssén, ASF Business Collaboration Manager

ASF is also very agile in students activities. There is the yearly seminar on service industry job opportunities Young Student – Go services! and Aalto Introduction to Services organise every year. Mrs. Forssén pointed out that ASF is now finishing but the use of its good practices will continue at the Finnish Service Alliance. Check it out at http://www.servicealliance.fi.

 

A GLOBAL LEADER IN THE ESCALATOR AND ELEVATOR INDUSTRY

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The keynote speaker was KONE’s Senior Vice President for Development, Digitalisation Strategy, and Service Business, the amazing Kati Hagros who was previously KONE´s CIO. She talked about Digitalization in industrial services context. She emphasized the role of services in KONE’s portfolio. Already in the 1970´s, half of the company´s revenue came from services. Mrs. Hagros mentioned that KONE combines business, technology and services to create a superior customer experience.

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Collectively ‘Thinking Design’

..my experience..
Starting studies after a decade…years of work life and now back again to a student life!

Was not sure what to expect and get from the SID master’s program starting on the morning of 4th September 2015 with ‘Design Thinking’

A very exciting day to begin, students around full of inspiration, motivated, energized and from various backgrounds. Getting to know and learn from each other all about the concept of Design Thinking was the essence of the two-day workshop held by guest lecturers Katja Tschimmel and Mariana Valença.

An interesting ice breaker for the team was the ‘mind shake warm-up’ and ‘who is who’ activities. Learnt a lot of new things not only on the subject but also about other students as well as myself! That’s when I realized that it is going to be an exciting learning journey ahead!

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Ice breaker – Mind Shake game

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Group exercise – who is who

..my knowledge..
Why design thinking?

Design Thinking is a way of thinking which leads to transformation, evolution and innovation. Tschimmel, K. (2012) it is human-centric approach which starts with observing people in their natural surroundings, helps to understand customer’s actual needs and create business that taps into their existing behavior. This way customers are much more likely to relate to the new business.

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