Tag Archive | Aalto University

“Memorable experiences, meaningful life”. But what is an experience, exactly?

Aalto Experience platform fosters and promotes a multi-disciplinary approach to understanding and designing for experiences by combining scientific, artistic, business, and technological angles to human experiences.”

a

13th February marked the day of the Aalto Experience Platform Kick-off. With the mission of making Aalto University a world leader in multidisciplinary experience research, Experience Platform is an open community for experience research. Besides a brief introduction on the platform itself and networking, the kick-off offered insights on some of the multifaceted approaches to experience research by presentations on User Experience, Citizen Experience, and Consumer Experience.

What is an experience?

In their opening intro session Markus Ahola (Project Manager, Aalto University) and Virpi Roto (Professor in Experience Design, Aalto University) started head-on by addressing the not-so-simple question of What is an experience. Not surprisingly there was no conclusive answer but a mixture of responses and definitions by the multidisciplinary Experience Platform academic board members – each of them giving a different perspective to demonstrate the complexity of the question on a video that was shown.

A general trend behind the research and the Experience Platform seemed to be the growing investments (not only monetary) in experiences while material possessions are being less and less valued. Through my human-centered and soft-value-focused glasses the slogan of the platform “Memorable experiences, meaningful life” seemed like a breath of fresh air in the often cold and money-focused world of ours. On a practical side, it was also interesting and inspiring to hear that the platform will have a physical, multidisciplinary working space after the summer.

Hannu Seristö, Vice President External relations at Aalto University also gave a short speech about human-centricity being needed not only in business but also in the public sector while pointing out that humans have not exactly been in center of business traditionally. However, times are changing, and with that feelings and experience, and particularly ease of buying, continue to be increasingly important.

Who do we design for?

c

With that it was time for Kristina Höök, Professor in interaction design at KTH Sweden to step on stage for her presentation on User Experience – designing with aesthetics through bodily and emotional engagements. Her presentation content and style was exactly what the Experience Platform introduction highlighted in their operation in general: human, brave, and crazy. At times provocative (and in my opinion, in a good way: keeping the audience interested, trying to shake us a little and question our own beliefs), her presentation gave plenty of examples on the importance of movement and of understanding oneself first in order to design for a (separate) end-user. Movement was not a focus in design I had previously, in all honesty, thought about too much – except for e.g. potential limitations in one’s moving that might affect a service perhaps. But following the presentation it made sense and I found myself reflecting on many thought-provoking parts of the presentation.

From the service designer point of view one of the most memorable parts of Kristina’s presentation was the statement “you can’t design for someone else if you don’t know how it is or how it feels yourself”. This statement at first sounded to me almost as the total opposite of empathy and putting oneself in the other one’s (=end-user’s) shoes – traditionally one of service design’s main guidelines! And that made me think: fine, if one is naturally emphatic and would consider the other and their needs, wishes etc. naturally anyway, but what if the designer is a selfish one with no regard of other points of views than their own? However, throughout the rest of the presentation the point became clearer and actually was very close to, not the opposite of, empathy: using oneself as the end-user, researcher, designer at the same time, but through empathy and compassion. Perhaps for a more traditionally scientific research field this could be provocative in a totally different way, as one of Kristina’s main points was “research through design” – not having research done separately and in isolation, then followed by design based on the results. Another interesting point was the interest in designing things that are not only reading your emotions but create technology to make people experience new things about themselves and their body – not just things like like facial recognition or counting your steps. In hindsight this had a nice connection also to the following presentation from Anne Stenros, Chief Design Officer at City of Helsinki, who also spoke about the shift from high-tech to human-tech. Add a Feldenkreis video with a baby and a sitting bone exercise and you’ve got the most interactive and perhaps memorable presentation of the kick-off.

Citizen Experience – From Audience to Actor

b

Next up was then Anne Stenros from City of Helsinki. Her presentation was around citizen experience and in particular the shift from audience to actor: city-users becoming city-makers. Her quirky and well-spoken style was a hit in my opinion, with her topic being both fascinating and well-presented. She went through some current trends and emerging signals of the city universe and the citizen experience, with a note of human-centricity visible in each scenario. This presentation too arose many thoughts and reflection as well as shared practical examples of some of the trends already visible in the city design today. Personally I was a little relieved to hear that the era of “Smart city” was about to transform to “Responsive city” – reinforcing the previous presenter’s point in the shift from high-tech to human-tech. According to Anne, the shift was about responding to needs of citizens rather than optimizing technology for users.

A brief look into the trends in consumer experience

Lastly, Eric Arnould, Professor in Marketing in Aalto University gave a presentation about consumer experience based on the perspective of theory. Some of this was familiar from the service design studies but it was a good recap nevertheless. A groundbreaking thought in 1982, consumption not being about making rational choices but about “fantasies, feelings & fun”, was a good reminder on how things have indeed changed from consumption being seen as a purely economic exchange like it had been by marketing thus far. The presentation discussed some perspectives on defining ‘experience’, for example highlighting the narrative, material, social and political aspects and on the other hand the cultural, situated and relational nature of experiences. In the end though for me the thing that made me think the most was actually in the Q&A session after the presentation, when an attendee asked Eric about his thoughts on the “new work” and new work spaces. “Consumerification of work”, aka new work spaces that look like leisure-time or consumer space, was a concept that I would like to continue to ponder on also after the event.

Topped with circus performances, demos and some snacks, the event was a wonderful experience. Now we just have to figure out how to define ‘experience’…

The author Kaisla Saastamoinen is a Service Design Masters student with a passion for human-centric design, co-creation, and coffee.

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.

 

P1180954.JPG

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

P1180959.JPG

 

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.

Continue reading

Open data and its potential – free information for all

What do we mean by open data? It is material which is created by public administration, organisations, companies or private persons and which is freely available and free of charge for the use of others. I attended a morning coffee event held by the Urban Academy, where launching of the open data of the City of Helsinki and its scientific implications were discussed. The Urban Academy´s main partners are the City of Helsinki, the University of Helsinki and the Aalto University. The Urban Academy brings together officials, policymakers, students, researchers and residents to share their experiences, knowledge and opinions with one another.

Tanja Lahti, Open data advocate and Project manager at City of Helsinki, Helsinki Region Infoshare

Tanja Lahti, Open data advocate and Project manager at City of Helsinki, Helsinki Region Infoshare

Tanja Lahti, an Open data advocate and Project manager at the City of Helsinki, gave an inspiring speech on how open data takes us towards a more democratic Helsinki. She stressed the advantages of open data: more effective public administration, improved transparency and democracy for residents and last but not least broader trade activity and more innovation for enterprises.

Mrs. Lahti talked also about one of the most important data openings this year – the Ahjo Explorer which is a free App providing residents with data on the political decision making of the City of Helsinki.The App is in a machine-readable form and brings openness and transparency into municipal politics and can be used in many different ways. The App allows the political decision making to be followed wherever and whenever with updates once a day. I found it very interesting when she spoke about an application that uses open data – the Blindsquare, which is the world´s most popular accessible GPS-app for the visually impaired and blind to help them move around the city using their smartphones. The app describes the environment and announces points of interest and street intersections.

Continue reading

Invention Cycle – How to bring your ideas to life

In the very first day of SID program, I spent evening after the course getting inspired by Tina Seelig, a Stanford University Professor and co-director for the Stanford Technology Ventures Program. The forum was Aalto Design Factory’s series of Thought Leaders’ Talks. Tina has been recognized as a national leader in engineering education and she teaches courses on creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship in the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design. Yep, you remember correctly, the same institute from which Katja Tschimmel introduced us one of the pioneering innovation models.

Invention Cycle

Tina spoke about how to get rough ideas out of our heads into the real world and further into ventures. She introduced us the tool she has developed, the Invention Cycle.

We started off with the concept of Creativity. What is creativity essentially? We have to agree on the basic concepts and to create a common vocabulary first to make communication easier. Creativity is a skill we can learn, by practicing.

In a nutshell, innovating starts with Imagination – envisioning things that do not exist yet. Creativity is needed in using our imagination to face challenges and in innovating unique solutions to them. We also need Entrepreneurship to apply innovations.

All of these elements (Creativity, Imagination, Innovation, Entrepreneurship) make an Invention cycle, characterized by relationships, attitudes and actions.

Going further into the imagination phase, Tina pointed out how true passion is evoked with engagement. We need to be motivated and to motivate others and have the right mindset allowing experimentation, which generates us the data we need to carry ideas further.

Pretotype before Prototype

Regarding experimentation, Tina introduced the thought of doing pretotype before prototype. The example given that enlights it well was offering a new dish in the restaurant menu just to see if it would be ordered or not. This way we can rapidly see if the concept is worth developing further or not.

Framestorm before Brainstorm

We should put a lot of time and attention to looking our ideas from different angles – we should ask the right question before ideation phase. There exists an infinite number of solutions. To maintain the right set of mind, Tina suggested that in the beginning of innovating we ought to fall in love with the problem, not the solution.

‘Sisu’ is needed on the way

When achieving the implementation phase of the Innovation Cycle, we need entrepreneurial spirit: capability to inspire others to invest on our idea and to build a good team. We also need grit or sisu to push through the greyest stone. Tina referred to storytelling as an aid to create a compelling sales pitch.

(For our fellow foreign students, check the meaning of sisu as explained by Wikipedia.)

In the conclusion of the lecture audience posed a few questions to Tina. One of them was how to implement the cycle. According to Tina, we should first figure out where we are in the cycle. We need people with diverse sets of strengths – creatives, innovatives, entrepreneurs and so forth. Then we should share the essential vocabulary, inspire our team and excite our imagination with problems!

The other question which alerted my curiousity was about whether this concept or tool is transferable interculturally. I disagree on its transferability, as the degree of power of authority in societies varies a lot. You need a culture with low degree to enable the equality of team members and thus enable them to contribute to the process. I would gladly receive comments on this thought on the blog comment section.

Tina has published a book that goes deeper into these lecture topics. It is called “Insight Out” and is available in Amazon, currently being rated 4,5 stars by 23 readers.

FullSizeRender-56

(This blog post contributes to the course of Current Topics in Service Design.)

Industrial Transformation

I attended on the 2nd of June 2015 to a Fimecc Future Industrial Services (FutIS) WP2 Final Seminar hosted by Program Manager Mr. Pekka Helle. This seminar had both researchers presenting results as well as the industrial and garco sector presenting their cases. FutIS is organized by the Finnish Metals and Engineering Competence Cluster (Fimecc) and aims to ease the industry’s transformation by research and development in the area a service business. Over twenty companies and eight research institutes collaborate in this joint program with a budget of 35 million euros. After attending to this seminar I feel strongly that the biggest challenge is to turn up side down (bouleverser) the way of looking from the point of view of the industrial needs to doing business from the point of view of the customer.

Mr. Pekka Helle, Programme Manager

Henri Paukku, Project Manager, Customer Solutions MacGregor

Mr. Henri Paukku, Project Manager, Customer Solutions
MacGregor

Transformation starts from understanding customer’s business logic, processes, long-term targets, segments and motives and adding a lot of co-creating and team-work with all the relevant stakeholders. Mr. Henri Paukku, Project Manager at MacGregor Finland Oy gave an example of bottle necks in the container ship solution offering. He explained how removing one bottle neck usually increases the problems in the next phase if the whole chain hasn’t been cleared.

Business logs

Example of a business logic (MacGregor)

Bigger ships have bigger capacity but if the terminals aren’t fit to it, there is a gap between capacity and functionality. Data collecting and collaboration between different parties is extremely important. Attitude towards data gathering and traditional logistic chain needs to change. The idea is to make bigger profit, utilization and increase the cash flow. Mr. Pekka Helle stated that with good Solutions design and service innovations, investment costs are lower, the revenue curve higher and the profit lifetime longer. 

Continue reading

Making mutual funds a mutual fun

Openfin hack and ideathon poster

Openfin hack and ideathon poster

They say the best way to become a great service designer is to participate in as many service design contests and hands on happenings as possible. It was what I thought when Minna Myyryläinen, one of my SID Laurea fellow students, brought the idea to join the openfin Hack and Ideathon competition in Espoo.

Finally our team, addition to Minna and me, included Antti Kytö and Jaakko Porokuokka, all SID13 Laurea students. I knew – despite none of us being a real hacker in code – this team could do anything related to creating awesome business concepts using our service design methods and toolkits. Luckily later the hacking part was completed when I persuaded my colleague and friend Lassi Jatkola to join our team. Before the event itself the team studied trends and innovations in the financial sector and shared views and ideas through chat.

Getting ready for the challenge

On Friday 26th the team gathered to the app campus premises and prepared itself for the 22 hour challenge ahead. Me and Jaakko had already agreed to stay overnight at the app campus as it was offered as a possibility by the competition rules.

Jaakko, Minna, Antti, Lassi

Team preparing for the challenge

Aalto OpenFin project manager Mojtabaei Renani Mahnoush said the welcome words and wished all participants good luck. Next was Juha Viljakainen’s, from OP-Pohjola, time to give some background on OP-Pohjola and the financial service sector generally, its history and challenges.

The competion rules and three categories were introduced by Jouni Lähteenmäki from OP-Pohjola. The categories included:

  1. consumer app innovation zone
  2. entrepreneur app innovation zone
  3. business ecosystem infrastructure innovation zone.

The competitors would be evaluated by financial aspect, market potential, business model viability and how realistically it could be implemented. In addition presentation with surprise factor and impressive demo would get extra credits. Final word was given Futurice’s Riku Valtasola, who explained how the business idea to concept works in the company he represents.

Beginning the design process

Continue reading

Innovation and Development Activities in Professional Service Firms – a Role Structure Perspective, doctoral dissertation by Tiina Tuominen

By Riku Seppälä

I attended the public defence of Tiina Tuominen’s doctoral dissertation at Aalto University in Otaniemi, Espoo on 22nd February.  Title of her thesis is Innovation and development activities in professional service firms- a role structure perspective.  The thesis can be found here: http://otalib.aalto.fi/en/collections/e-publications/dissertations/

Continue reading