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Role of Service Design & User Insights in Innovation Process

I gave a speech in a World Usability Day a while ago and heard many interesting talks about innovation and user experience. What seemed to be in common with all these talks and today’s perception of innovation was, that you learn and succeed trough iterations and failures when experimenting with new ideas.

When on innovation process creating new services or products, we all know by now that it is essential to involve our customers to that process. At Futurice’s lean service creation process we start with service vision sprint, where a multi-disciplinary team tries to find out if the problem is worth solving and validates the ideas as early as possible with end users and client experts. Service vision sprint builds holistic evidence and deep understanding for value creation and increases the chances of business success. And even after that - throughout the process - the mantra goes; build, measure and learn!

You can't plan the digital future, you need to build it

We build the digital future step by step, by iterating and learning, also with innovations. In innovation process it is essential to ask, what is the problem we are solving, where are we aiming with our idea, and who are our customers and why?

It is important to build the questions and methods so, that you are able to dig out the reasons why people act and behave certain ways and why do they make same choices day after day even though it sometimes seems irrational. You need to figure out what do they want to achieve, what prevents them from it and how could they be pleased, in order to successfully be able to build sustainable value propositions.

I have seen different kind of endings of service vision sprints in our teams – there’s a project, where we by iterating the end user data collection during different stages of the project, found a new customer segment and so on a totally new need and new market for the service. In this case our client got new business idea as a bonus while iterating their current value proposition, and continued with both of them successfully. Collecting different kind of end user data - analytics or qualitative data - before, during and after the implementation phase provides information for further development and upgrades, but additionally it can help discover new, unspoken needs and that way it can also generate totally new innovations.

Then there was another project, where after a few iterative and thorough customer interviews, we found out that there was no reasonable need for all the features our client had planned. Even if it may seem otherwise, that was a happy ending as well: the client prioritized features for minimum viable product and was able to avoid spending resources and time on a solution with no real market potential.

That is the essence of service vision sprint. Together with the customer, we aim to validate, whether or not the business idea our client has, is actually solving some meaningful problem for some substantial enough user group. In this work, the role of service design and gathering user insights is essential. Based on the insights, we can either iterate the idea until we’re convinced the solution we’re planning is really worth building and investing in or make the decision to stop developing it, because we’ve found out it would not become viable business.

If you are interested to learn how you could do this in practice, check http://futurice.com/services/lean-service-creation-training.

images: unsplash.com


  • Portrait of Mirkka Länsisalo
    Mirkka Länsisalo
    Culture Advisory Lead, Service Designer