The international community, Service Design Network (SDN), founded in 2004, arranged an online conference focusing on service design in October of 2020. The conference was planned to be held physically in Copenhagen, but due to the global pandemic, all keynotes, workshops, and other events were held online utilizing convenient tools for collaboration.
This year’s theme was embracing change, a topic strongly reflected in all presentations. Keynote speakers this year were employees of big corporations and experts in service design from different cultures, countries and time zones.
In this blog post I summarize two intriguing presentations and ponder service design trends and opportunities for value creation in companies.
Embracing change and service design today
Birgit Mager, one of the founders of the SDN community and the first Professor in Service Design globally, has attended every SDGC conference since the beginning. In a short introductory presentation, Status of Service Design Today, Mager explains current transformation in operations of companies and how the roles of service designers have changed over time. Although service designers by default are optimistic, the “new normal” (due to Covid) has largely impacted ways of work, she says.
Mager emphasizes that the important of technology substantially has grown, but the future lies in utilizing both new technology and data to create services. Currently, we already are using a lot of technology and conduct research online, but a change has happened in agencies, where e.g. data scientists are involved as new roles in service design, Mager explains.
In addition to these, ethics has been put as a focus when creating services. Other equally relevant areas are sustainability, accessibility, and participation, Mager mentions.
Designing aviation future through design
The Dutch aviation company, KLM, founded over a hundred years ago, has recently been facing challenges due to the global pandemic and how it has changed the aviation industry. The complex industry is naturally very regulated and evolves rapidly as consumers are becoming extensively environmentally aware.
In a jointed keynote, Ryanne Van De Streek, project manager at KLM, and Anouk Randag, service design consultant at Livework, presented a sample of methods through which KLM has introduced new ways to innovate and develop services.
As a company, KLM has already for some time put efforts on design and has also started design initiatives that currently are in use. KLM, however, wanted to continue developing these new methods with a goal to activate ~1500 employees, to develop competences and to involve innovation in a system by the end of 2023.
According to Randag, high impact can be created by utilizing, developing and scaling current initiatives. In her presentation and new model was presented that had been co-created iteratively within KLM as an organization.
Although KLM drastically have had to cut budgets due to Covid, Van De Streek explains that certain areas still are being put in action. For example, are their new service design principles and process (”KLM X way of working”) shared with new employees to foster agility, as this continuously is needed in their industry.
To summarize, we can conclude that although service design is quite a broad principle, it can work as a great way to develop internal working methods and sustainable business in organizations. By being open to new ideas, utilizing current competences and starting initiatives, with a focus on building custom ways to work, organizations can achieve innovation and test new business models.
Written by Thomas Djupsjö MBA Student at Laurea, University of Applied Sciences
The global pandemic outbreak in spring 2020 is continuing to disrupt markets, organizations and even our behaviours. As changes, new needs, expectations and innovations are emerging, it is important to proactively make sense of this new context.
The era of disruption tends to provide a valuable moment to experiment with new business ideas and even launch businesses. In fact, as Trend Hunter highlights, a large number of companies has been established during a recession, including Adobe, Apple, CNN, Disney, Hyatt, IBM, Instagram, Microsoft, Pinterest and WhatsApp.
As an innovation designer and change facilitator, I have helped both small and large businesses to build an understanding on the importance of trend spotting and scanning. In this article, I will cover the current context and challenges for innovation, the benefits of trend spotting and scanning, 3 insightful sources for trends and one practical framework to get started.
Many brands are highly valuing the innovations. If we take Peter Drucker’s definition for the term innovation (in Harvard Business Review 2002), i.e. “the effort to create purposeful, focused change in an enterprise’s economic or social potential”, it should indeed be high on every brand’s agendas.
Interestingly, according to Salesforce research released in May 2020, marketers’ current top priority is innovating, while simultaneously it is also one of their top challenges. This example demonstrates the dilemma people tend to have for activities related to innovations.
Based on various research conducted, a majority of people state they simply don’t have time to work on ideas, although many acknowledge its importance. As Jeremy Gutsche, CEO of Trend Hunter, emphasized in his keynote speech “How to Make Innovation & Change Happen”, there are a plenty of other distractors we all have, which are preventing us to focus on innovating. These can be categorized under six themes, as shown here.
Having said that, sometimes there’s no other choice than removing distractors. The research by Small Business Roundtable and Facebook, published in May 2020, confirmed how small and medium-sized businesses are facing immediate cash flow issues, lack of demand and an uncertain future.
Yet, despite of this rather gloomy context, entrepreneurial spirit and optimism are also present among businesses. Since small and medium-sized businesses are vital e.g. for local communities, finding new and creative ways to reach and serve customers is thus highly encouraged.
Benefits of Trend Analysis
Asemphasized by J. Peter Scoblic in the article “Learning from the Future”, published on Harvard Business Review in July-August 2020, the practice of strategic foresight provides capabilities to sense, shape, and adapt to change as it happens. As such, there are multiple frameworks and tools to anticipate possible futures.
One practical way going forward is to spot systematically evolving trends and new innovations and, consequently, analyze what these could mean for your brand, customers and the industry as a whole. Before moving on, it is meaningful to clarify how the term “trend” can be understood. A trend is a new manifestation among people, related to behaviour, attitude or expectation, of a fundamental human need, want or desire (Mason et al. 2015, 46). Trend analysis, on the other hand, is about considering the potential influence of patterns of change that are already visible (J. Peter Scoblic 2020, 44).
All trends, in the end, can offer valuable innovation opportunities. The key is to unlock these prospects by adapting them for your context. The focus should be how a trend is relevant, rather than whether it is relevant (Mason et al. 2015, 145).
This fact alone highlights the advantage of the trend analysis. Moreover, it can bring in multiple other benefits along the journey from fueling your creativity to meeting, or even exceeding, your customer expectations, as I have summarized in the illustration inspired by the Double Diamond model of the British Design Council.
3 Insightful and Inspiring Sources for Trends
How to spot trends easily? There are numerous organizations that are focusing on collecting, synthesizing and publishing insightful trend reports on a regular basis. These reports can be considered as valuable starting points to gain an overview on what’s trending. Especially acknowledging the issue with time most of us seem to have, it is easier to take advantage of curated and regularly updated trend reports by the trend agencies and the foresight specialists. My 3 favorite sources right now are the following.
Trendhunter.com is said to be the world’s largest trend community with 20 million monthly views and a database of over 400,000 ideas and innovations. The insightful content also includes inspiring trend reports, articles, newsletters, talks, tools and books.
Think with Google
Think with Google provides regular reports on signals, trends and insights based on Google data, research and analysis conducted by Google teams. Their newsletter is packed with interesting point of views and special collection pages on emerging trends with multiple data points, illustrated in graphs and other visual formats, are to the point.
TrendWatching, a company specialized in consumer trend and innovations scanning, has both free and premium content available, but to start with, you can find a number of articles, reports, keynote talks and more. In 2020, TrendWatching has launched two new initiatives. Firstly, COVID Innovations site has a curated collection of over 1000 inspiring and recent innovations captured around the world, and secondly, Business of Purpose site proposes a community to exchange insights and share opportunities, and a plenty of curated resources, including statistics and insights. Moreover, TrendWatching delivers to its subscribers the “Innovation of the Day” content by email on a daily basis.
Trend Insights in Action: 1 Practical and Tested Framework
But what to do with all this future-oriented content? In the end, it is equally important to utilize these insights in ways that will be beneficial for you and your brand, while being able to grasp opportunities in a timely manner.
Innovation requires knowledge, ingenuity, and, above all else, focus.
– Peter F. Drucker, Harvard Business Review, 2002
To give focus and methodology, let me introduce one concrete framework, which I have found specifically useful to conduct trend analysis.
According to this methodology, to be able to address the sweet spot, brands should track three key trend elements:
1. basic human needs,
2. drivers of change and
Let’s explore these elements.
We humans all have basic needs, wants and desires, which remain the same, despite the changes happening around us. All trends are, after all, rooted in these basic needs. Authenticity, honesty, freedom and transparency can be considered as our fundamental needs.
What comes to changes, we know the change is constant, accelerated and happening everywhere. To understand the drivers of change, brands should look at shifts, i.e. the long-term macro changes and triggers.
The examples of shifts are climate change, urbanization and aging population. Triggers, on the other hand, are more immediate changes, such as political events, environmental incidents, and new technologies. What is trending in social networks or new products can give hints on social change. Frameworks such as PESTLE and STEEPLED provide support to analyze further these changes.
Thirdly, innovations are important since they inform on how the market is changing, what are the new entrants, new services, or experiences. Thus, spotting business innovations can help to assess what consumers will want next. In the end, innovations will create new expectations, which is why the terms such as “Expectation Economy”, “Experience Economy” and “Liquid Expectations” have been discussed in the recent years.
However, main emphasis should not be on these individual elements, but rather on the sweet spot, or tension, between basic needs, drivers of changes and innovations. This tension can be further evaluated by building an understanding on customer expectations and gaps between what is currently being offered (Mason et al. 2015, 48).
Transforming Current Trends to Innovative Ideas
The trend spotting encourages to act on the opportunities and identifying points of tension. How can you transform current trends to innovative ideas, which will be beneficial for your brand and your customers? Here’s a quick guide of main steps to take using the Trend Driven Innovation Methodology.
In practice, you can kick off your analysis by taking any of these starting points:
1. a new innovation and build an understanding what drivers of change and basic needs this innovation is addressing or
2. a new driver of change and spot innovations that are tackling this change or
3. a basic need by asking do I want to address it with my business, how I might satisfy this need, and consequently, what drivers of change are relevant for me that I can leverage.
Once you have decided your starting point, you can use the Consumer Trend Canvas to help you to structure and break down your analysis and ideation.
If you are short in time, you may try to get this filled in within a few hours. This approach, however, requires ideally some pre-work such as gathering trend inspiration in advance and securing a participation of multi-disciplinary team of at least 4 people, and a facilitator, for more creative results. On the contrary, you can also take your time and do some proper research for both parts of the canvas. If you are working alone, it would be beneficial to get some peer review and iterate the outputs accordingly.
Once your ‘analyze’ part ready, you can jump into the ‘apply’ part. It will be fruitful to ideate how you can potentially apply this trend and emerging expectations in your particular case and who would actually benefit from it.
Spend some time to ideate possible innovations and what would be the innovation potential. To get more ideas, I would recommend additionally to use a structured brainstorming method such as Creative Matrix. When ideating, remember to go for quantity over quality and focus on opportunities on where the attention and expectations are. Out of this ideation method, you can bring the most interesting ideas back to the Consumer Trend Canvas.
At this stage, you may wonder what shall you do once you have your first canvas filled in.
Ideally, you are ready to take a step forward, and go deeper how would this innovation actually work. For that purpose, you can use, for instance, the Business Model Canvas by Strategyzer and further ideate how to experiment the innovation using the Experiment Canvas, created by Ash Maurya.
If you can imagine an improved future state, you can likely make it happen
To conclude, current challenging time calls for deeper reflections, creative ideas and experimentations.
Different types of organizations from the well-established brands to new solo entrepreneurs can benefit from systematic trend spotting and scanning activities. Trend analysis provides opportunities to rethink the strategies, ways of operating and the overall offerings. In the end, regardless of your motivation and interests, you can take a proactive role in sensemaking and ideating an inspiring future.
Nina Kostamo Deschamps, SID 2016
Innovation Designer & Change Facilitator at Accenture Interactive
Is 2018 going to be the year of Virtual Reality? Jeremy Dalton, the Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Lead for PWC, wants to believe, but doesn’t think the public is ready yet.
Last week I attended a series of lectures in London about Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (VR) and how companies are using them at the moment and in the future to develop their services. The key speakers were Jeremy Dalton (Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Lead for PQC) and Sylvain Reiter (Cyber-Duck).
How are Virtual and Augmented Reality being used?
According to Dalton and Reiter, Virtual and Augmented Reality are quickly becoming effectives way of offering unbelievable customer experiences, but also for companies to develop their services. The speakers talked about many how VR and AR are being used by companies from the auto industry to journalism and movies. Brands like IKEA, Barclays, Star Wars and Volvo are already using them in creative and experimental ways.
Virtual and Augmented Reality elements are being used in production line testing and to drive consumer sales, for example with mobile apps that let users put furniture in the own homes in the right scare or in real estate projects for visualization of not yet built houses. However in the USA Walmart is also using Virtual Reality for training purposes by giving their employees the possibility to learn in real life situations, and a UK based company used it in high court to illustrate how a traffic accident had occurred.
Virtual and Augmented reality can also be a force for social change. In the UK it is used to fight racial biases by making the user by giving them a change to experience bodyswapping or dealing with people from different countries. Virtual reality has also been called “The Great Empathy Machine“. United Nations has used it to put people in the shoes of immigrants for them to understand their experiences in a completely new way.
Taking VR and AR to the next level?
Even with all the new VR and AR experiences the public is receiving from different players in the field, the speakers reminded us that there are still many barriers for people adapting this new technology. At the moment they list four main areas for further development.
According to the speakers at the moment there are three different ways of users getting the VR and AR experience: home based technology, VR headset units such as Oculus Go and portable smartphone based technology. Dalton and Reiter however believe that the cost of using and developing VR and AR needs to be brought down. The technology is complex and in order to receive a high quality VR experience one must have a high quality headset, which is still expensive.
The User experience
At the moment the speakers feel that the user experience hasn’t been optimized in terms of the technical delivery. Especially with Virtual Reality, the technology is still complicated to use, when is should be easy and intuitive. Moving in the virtual world doesn’t always work in the best possible way, and in order to get a high quality optical experience, one might need a large and heavy headset.
Since VR and AR are still new technologies, there is a limited amount of good content out there. Companies are developing more and creating new experiences, but lack of user base means lack of content which doesn’t drive commercial sales. This leads to companies not adapting this technology in the services.
Adapting to new technologies takes time. According to the speakers, even though Virtual and Augmented Reality have been around as concepts for years (you might have seen it in Star Trek when you were younger), it was 2012 when they really began to catch on. However, there are still many misconception and misunderstandings about the technologies. People might think VR is only for gamers, or that in order to enjoy AR you need expensive smartphones and other technology. This is why most of the public hasn’t really had a high quality experience with these technologies yet, and educating people about the wonders of VR and AR is the next step that needs to be taken.
So do the speakers think that the year 2018 will be the year Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality really become a huge trend? The less expensive and more easily adaptable AR is already being utilized by more and more companies, but Dalton still believes that the public might not be ready for Virtual Reality yet. Give it a few more years, he says…
But did the event deliver? Not so much. In my opinion design was not really in the forefront of the forum as there were plenty of presentations about branding and marketing.
The four-hour forum was started by Andreas Roselew, who is a managing partner at Grow Partners. He shook the audience by stating that there is a hype around all the service design concepts such as co-creation, growth hacking and customer centricity.
“I think we are experiencing a silent bubble”, he stated and referenced the dotcom bubble of the late 90s and early 2000s.
According to Rosenlew, very few service designers manage to pull things together so that it actually creates cumulative value.
“There are a lot of service designers running around being evangelists”, Rosenlew said. In his opinion most of the current Service Design is generic.
“It’s based on generic insights and it results in generic solutions”, he said.
In Rosenlew’s opinion there needs to be a direction in all design and it needs to be consistent and continuous. That is the only way to create value in the long term.
In order to achieve that designers should concentrate on holistic design and take into account the whole customer journey and life cycle and also different senses such as taste, feel and smell.
Fazer decided to simplify to amplify
The most interesting case that was presented in the forum was in my opinion Fazer’s Head of Marketing Päivi Svens’s presentation on how design has become a strategic capability for the company.
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:
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.
Store is the number 1 factor influencing the purchase decision – next come search, CRM and social.
Ratio, heart and genitals drive the decisions. Technology helps reduce pain when you’ve first identified the actual pain points.
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.
“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.
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.
I participated in the first Global Governmental Jam that was held in the fancy ICT House (pics in the end of post) in Turku on the 5th and 6th of June. The idea of the service jams was familiar to me: we were supposed to create as many prototypes of new (public) services as possible in 48 hours. The jams abroad had been started already the evening before. However, the “common theme” was to be released only on the 5th, at 9 a.m.
We had to decipher the text (left) in order to reveal the theme. It couldn’t be anything as square as an anagram, so our team depicted funnels (cones) representing a new kind of customer service process– and a symbolic drag queen (transfering customer identity).
Then we were told to create a prototype of a service around whatever we had come up with the text. So basically there was no common theme, unless the biggestcommon nominator“public service” counts as one.
Only later we were explained the phrase “Here be dragons” that is a medieval metaphor for dangerous or unexplored territories.
Apparently, the purpose was to make public services less frightening and more approachable. Our service was to transform the employment office into an office of opportunities, where customers wouldn’t have to feel ashamed of visiting.
The prototype, the pilot, was a one year opportunity to change one’s status from unemployed into “a status of choice”; the ultimate goalbeing getting rid of the term “unemployed” altogether. See Prezi here
In today’s organization’s strategic or service development projects you hardly hear a word about foresight or futures research. If you do, you are probably dealing with professionals of the field. Typical scene in developing services or company strategies is that we tend to make our decisions based on current normative knowledge – and perhaps worse, with consensus driven mindset. We use too often “I know/I feel” -tool in critical points where instead we should useresearch material and insights about the topic in question. Organizations seem to lack knowledge on how to use foresight as part of development process. It is a powerful tool when used systematically, and when used efficiently it can give you the possibility to spot and develop new business innovations before competitors.
“Futures are about knowledge. We must be inspired about futures. Futures are also about storytelling. “ explained lecturers Minna Koskelo and Anu K. Nousiainen.
In the course Futures thinking and foresights methodologies we learned how futures thinking is linked to service design and how it can be applied in business. Through hands-on workshops lot of new things were learnt and here are some key learning points.
Decision-making boosted up with futures foresights
Futures foresight methods can help companies to make right decisions to captivate their own blue ocean strategies. When identifying preferable futures and setting trend indicators to follow, companies can improve decision-making. Futures insights offers companies more flexibility to the strategy, support their risk management and produce new business ideas.
There is not just one future, but a whole range of possibilities. Futures foresight is a process of observing current world, finding new curves of change and seeking for opportunities of tomorrow. It is not just about guessing and predicting, but it is systematic approach that combines multiple fields and methods in order to produce proposals of possible, probable and preferable futures, which organizations can use to make right decisions.
A research based series of posts discussing the statement “Futures Research supports the Service Design process in multiple ways and throughout the whole process” by Minna Koskelo and Anu K. Nousiainen.