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Posted by superadmin on 06/09/2013 13:10 in 2013

 

Story: Atipong Amornwongpeeti

Heard of a Zipcar? Own a Nokia phone? Chances are that at least a couple of products and services you have been in contact with bear the fingerprint of Chris Downs, a brilliant mind who trailed the blaze for service design. However, as the field has garnered more disciples, this pioneer, now a Principal at Method, has forsaken the foundation assumptions of service design he formulated in its early days for a new vision that gives a new role to insights and better suits the current landscape.

Where it all began

Although he was a trained product design, Downs was quickly disenchanted by the waste and greed that products encourage and came to be attracted to services. In fact, he went so far as to conceptualize them as the antithesis of products – the former being environmentally sustainable (as services are intangible and do not give rise to waste) and socially inclusive (because services are based on people helping each other) while the latter being essentially anything but.

Convinced that transforming products and businesses into services might be the only salvation for a sustainable future, Downs co-founded live|work, the world’s first service design agency in 2001. Downs’ fresh perspective on service caught on very quickly and gained him international recognition. Some of his most notable clients include big names such as Streetcar (now Zipcar), Orange, Vodafone, Fiat, Aviva and Experian.

Shifting terrain

Now more than a decade later, Downs notes that as a result of the changing technological landscape, some principal aspects of service design are going through an evolution, which heralds an inevitable shift in perspective toward service design.

A traditional service design process is sequential in nature, starting from researching for consumer insights and developing the user experience around the findings to delivering the asset that the service needs in order to operate. However, recent years have seen this process develop into short iterative cycles in which ideas are created quickly, tested with users, and adjusted before the process is repeated to keep on building better versions. Therefore, unlike previously, users are involved all through the development.

Tools employed in delving into customer insights also shift accordingly. The traditional model usually relies heavily on observation, which, apart from being costly and time-consuming, is extremely vulnerable to misinterpretation and can send a project down the wrong path. In addition, people who first give insights are not usually around to test the end-product. These drawbacks are circumvented in web-based tools. Not only are they free and at the tip of your finger, but the feedback obtained comes directly from users and does not require any interpretation.

User data and unmet needs

Within this new model, insights are no longer just an inspiration for designers but assume a central role in service development. One of the reasons for this new development is because data are so much easier to obtain now. User data can now be gleaned very quickly and efficiently from web-based tools as opposed to a lengthy process involving observation. In addition, instead of getting bogged down in the process of weeding out unrelated data, designers can now get hold of responses and feedback that are directly relevant from users via web-based tools, eliminating the need for guesswork or interpretation. This increase in the efficiency of data gathering and in the quality of the data itself means that designers can constantly go back to obtain more data to inform their next decisions and that it is now possible to directly involve users in every step of the process.

Furthermore, as designers and users are now linked through network technology, designers can keep tabs on user data and uncover patterns of their behavior as well as their unmet needs with unprecedented ease.

Service Design 2.0?

These changes suggest that technology has profound ramifications for service design. It is, thus, perhaps time to revise the point of view upheld over the past 10 years. Network technology or the web has now become a platform for service design. Services, products, and brands are blending thanks to technology. This conflation, in turn, revolutionalizes the relationship between users and these elements. Now, the value of products no longer lies in themselves, but in the access they give to services that users need. At the same time, users are not just passive consumers but are valued resources that make contribution to services and engage in the brand.

This means we can still talk about service design, but at the same time we need to acknowledge that it is in the process of transition and prepare to shift our understanding of service design accordingly.

Case studies

To regain its market share and strengthen relationships with existing customers, Nokia approached Method to create the strategy and roadmap for reinventing the customer experience to fare better in the current scenario in which the customer attention shifts towards software and applications. Method started out by plumbing user needs and experiences through research and interviews and developed an overall customer journey framework.

Building on this framework, Method redefined and integrated digital touchpoints into the retail customer journey. For example, to assist retail staff better service customers, Method created the Nokia Concierge, a touchscreen application that allows retail staff to provide one-on-one advice to help the customer identify the right mobile solution through interactive filtering, comparison, and demonstration.

Method also developed an application that could track the usage data of the application and present it through a custom analytics tool that visually highlights trends and insights. This tool affords retail stores access to discover patterns about the performance of products and services as well as customers’ desires in order to better inform their retail designs, thus forming an iterative cycle in which user data constantly informs adjustments.

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Through archives and records of our actions, the evidence of our existence is embedded in the data. On the other hand, the data also influences how we see the world and resulting into our actions. A tweet by Lev Manovich, a media theorist, stated that, “19th century was defined by the novel, 20th century culture by the cinema, the culture of the 21st century will be defined by the interface.” This notion may become true to the extent. So could the interface such as data visualisation improve our understanding of the reality of the world? Could it be used as a tool for knowledge cultivation?

 

 

Story: Atipong Amornwongpeeti

Heard of a Zipcar? Own a Nokia phone? Chances are that at least a couple of products and services you have been in contact with bear the fingerprint of Chris Downs, a brilliant mind who trailed the blaze for service design. However, as the field has garnered more disciples, this pioneer, now a Principal at Method, has forsaken the foundation assumptions of service design he formulated in its early days for a new vision that gives a new role to insights and better suits the current landscape.

 

Story: Sommanassa Ngernsa-ard

Professor Andy Miah’s interest has expanded extensively beyond his degrees in Science, Bioethics and Medical Law to other topics that concern emerging technologies and human enhancement. Basically, he advocates the use of technology to enhance humans, individually and socially. His books, lectures and articles usually advocate people to ponder about future of humanity beyond the current context so as to design it without restricted boundaries. His project #media2012 inside the mega event such as Olympics, for example, was also targeted to enhance humans socially with the power of digital media and citizen journalism. This article will seek to provide an insight to those innovative ideas that are centred around humans.