Post written by Chris Brooker
I have just returned from the final EPISIS conference in the World Design Capital 2012; Helsinki. The conference looked at the ‘Positive Impacts of Service Innovation – from Intangible Investments to Emerging Industries and Ecosystems’
Much of what was discussed will affect how businesses and designers are able to develop innovative services and it was interesting to hear about the service innovation happening across the world. It was a two day conference and the overriding theme was that the framework needed for service innovation to occur within industry and economic policy has to be systemic and holistic. Here is a link to presentations from the conference; all containing useful data and case studies. I will summarise below some of the ideas that were shared.
A very interesting point made by Suvi Nenonen of Vectia Ltd is similar to something I have in mind when helping businesses understand how they could develop innovative new services and attract new customers. Suvi used the example of the KONE Corporation to demonstrate how a company can verbalise their objective or aims statement in a new way. KONE manufactured elevators and escalators before evolving and repositioning as a ‘people flow’ company; which helps their clients manage the flow of people throughout the lifecycle of a building. This change from a manufacturer of lifts to a company that develops and delivers ‘solutions that enable people to move smoothly, safely, comfortably and without waiting in buildings in an increasingly urbanizing environment’ opened up a vast amount of service opportunities and markets to KONE. By refocusing and broadening their company’s purpose, KONE were able to design and deliver new products and services that built on their years of existing knowledge and experience.
Anders Frostenson of Doberman presented some great ideas and insight into company culture. He used an example of how the whole team at Doberman plan out the yearly budget together using Lego (instead of spreadsheets that are not interactive and only a few people in the team understand how to use). This transparent and engaging activity gives staff an element of ownership and control of the companies future and builds trust throughout the business. Anders also highlighted that ‘innovation’ is not due to the individual, but multidisciplinary teams.
The two big emerging industries in terms of service innovation over the coming years are Personalised Medicine and ICT & Mobile Services. It was also argued very well that patents for service innovation in Europe are a bad idea and should not happen, because, ‘where innovation already prospers there is a risk of harming competition by introducing patents (e.g. service sector)’. In the knowledge economy new services will emerge very quickly. The rate we recognize new industries and new sectors will change very quickly. Big data will create jobs, and thanks to better targeted customer-marketing, consumerism and productivity too.
Good infrastructure, like the superfast broadband that led to digital tourism in Cornwall, is very important for service innovation; bringing together technologies to provide better experiences for the people who live there.
Design is very important in driving innovation.
It was put forward that the retail sector could be totally ruined within 3-5 years unless retailers focus on their customers and create value with innovative customer experiences, and add some innovative services to the products they are selling. ‘We perhaps need to put some policies in place that force retailers to try to understand their customers better.’
What helps a business grow and become a global success?
The trick for a company is to find growing markets and meet an unmet customer need; Yoox.com have been successful globally as an efashion company because they created a business model that meant people could afford high fashion items. Businesses and entrepreneurs should define their market (in ways that allow them to grow). There are no set ‘markets’; you can define your market however you like and don’t have to use existing definitions – use market data to broadly understand your customers. Be agile and adaptive – entrepreneurs should continuously work in suggested changes (from reliable & informed sources) to their business model or product until they hit the sweet spot.
That is my brief summary of the final EPISIS conference. It seems the value of services for economic growth and job creation is becoming increasingly important and recognized. Helsinki is a beautiful city to visit and the weather was much better there than it has been in the UK for the Jubilee.