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Service design

Frontiers in Service, Columbus, Ohio, June 30 - July 3

I learned about the Frontiers in Service conference back in 2007 and I have been keeping an eye on it ever since. It is where a lot of IBMers present their Service science, management and engineering research. Sylvia Long-Tolbert also had great things to say about it back when she was a professor in the business college at the University of Toledo. After touring the world, the conference is making its midwest USA stop next month, so I am trying to figure out a way to get there. Not my core areas of interest, but I am sure I would learn something.

A few things that I notice that make me want to go:

  • Lots of IBMers, presenting their latest research and talking about the state of the field of service science. Jim Spohrer, Wendy Murphy, Paul Maglio, Jeanette Blomberg and more.
  • Some "service design" presentations that I should be able to apply. Not as focused as Emergence was in 2007 but I should get something out of it as a practitioner. I like that they have "best practitioner paper awards" - so this is not just research for researchers.
  • I see some presentations by Dwayne Gremler from BGSU. I have not met him yet.

The price is a big minus: hard to justify that for something that is not in my core interest area. Given the cost, family things (the summer is already packed) and work (being a weekend conferences helps there), not sure I will make it. If I miss it, hopefully there will be Twitter stream to follow. And I can follow up with my IBM colleagues separately to get reports from the conference.

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Service Science: Design for Scaling and Transformation

IBM colleague Jim Spohrer mentions a new book by Cheng Hsu of RPI - Service Science: Design for Scaling and Transformation - that seems to be knitting together "Web science" and "Service science" - and perhaps other things (something that I have been struggling with).

Jim quotes part of the book above. I also found the preface (PDF) listed by Professor Hsu. I found these bits interesting:

  • "My original intent was only to write a different kind of a scientific book about offering an interdisciplinary explanation to why service matters..."
  • "What does 'a connected world' mean? Does service require a different kind of design science? What will be the next waves of the Web? How to make enterprise information systems adequate for service scaling? How to unite cyberspace with physical space? Is it feasible to massively connect independent information resources everywhere? Is a service-led revolution reality or gimmick?"
  • "The situation is not unlike what Management Science faced in 1950's and Computer Science did in 1960's. A counter example is Information Technology of 1990's, which is a would-be field that failed to materialize scientifically."
  • "If a new service science is for real, then it has to be interdisciplinary and integrative, as opposed to merely being multi-disciplinary."
  • "I believe a new population orientation paradigm has arisen in scientific research for the digitally connected world...Such a paradigm studies directly the population knowledge (laws and probabilities) rather than the inference of them through samples (laboratory prototypes and statistics)."
  • "I managed to establish a design theme for the new theory...the book also embarked on analyses of new business designs emerged on the Web since the original e-commerce/e-business, and projected the theory onto their next waves."

Jim is thanked for his contributions to the book, which is not surprising, since he is "Mr. Service Science" at IBM.

This is one of those "research" books, so it is expensive, and to be honest, I am sure I won't understand all of the theory in it (there is a reason I am a practitioner and not a researcher), but it still looks worth buying to me. I am not sure Hsu's "design" is the same as what I consider "design," but I will get the book and find out.

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IBM Service Science feature

The US home page has a feature on Service Science this week.

(In the past, I have written about service innovation, frontiers in service and service science in politics.)

The main angle for this IBM feature on Service Science, Management and Engineering seems to be "it is the next computer science" (not unlike web science).

A few quotes:

  • IBM helped create "computer science" as a field of study... IBM is again at the forefront of the next major trend in college and professional education...
  • We already live in a world full of service systems, with access to more and more every day. Computer science was studying something that was very rare in the world—digital computers... (Jim Spohrer)
  • Traditional courses do not integrate across discipline boundaries...It will be very important that graduates understand that an SSME focus will lead to good jobs and careers... (Lynne Rosansky)
  • It provides for an integrated framework to explore all disciplines, especially computer science and information technology... (Mohammed Ghriga)
  • ...a group of full professors starts to teach and research SSME, then they get from their faculty a recognition of their discipline, then the ministry of universities recognizes the discipline and then it is possible to get new full professors... (Guido M. Rey)
  • ...the emerging model for software engineering is to offer an ongoing service as opposed to a tangible product acquired through a one-time sale. (Aaron Quirk)

One of the items of additional reading is the Succeeding through Service Innovation white paper, which I had the pleasure of giving feedback on. I commented on various aspects of user experience that seemed to be missing. They did use one of my quotes about the relevance to business.

I think we still have a long way to go to get the next generation ready to fix all of the messes we are going to leave them, but inter-disciplinary approaches like SSME are a step in the right direction.

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Succeeding through Service Innovation

I was asked to give feedback on the IBM/University of Cambridge discussion paper Succeeding through Service Innovation. Like many such requests, it was prefaced with "it should only take an hour" - I do not know how long it took me to read it, and comment on it, then to turn my feedback into something that made sense. It was much more than an hour. But at least I am done now, and it was worth it.

We shall see what, if any, aspects of my feedback appear as the "green paper" evolves into a "white paper." Most of my comments come from looking at service science and innovation through the lens of user experience (and my focus on corporate information architecture for almost a decade). Some of the things I found most interesting about the document:

  • In Section 1, I like that fact that they proposed extending the "Service Science, Management and Engineering" with a "D" for design. Adding more letters does not appeal to me - too many already - but adding in "design" (even though it is such a mooshy term) is one way to increase the focus on the human element (which I think does not come through enough in SSME literature in general).
  • Also in Section 1, I think the shift to a "try before you buy" economy helps customers focus more on the value of the end-to-end services instead of only considering the surface features of the product, like the price. The obligatory mention of "Web 2.0" was included.
  • In Section 2.2, key questions about architecture are listed, but I think they are missing one. How do we architect a service system to enable a quality experience for the people involved? (Both the customers and the front-stage staff that interact with them.) We all have a lot of stories about how hard it is to design for a quality experience when the fundamental building blocks of the system do not fit together ("lipstick on a pig"). And an even harder challenge: design an architecture for a service system that lets you build a seamless experience with a different service system.
  • In Section 3, the 4 clusters made sense to me because I see a large corporate web site as an example of something that includes all of them. It has the (1) marketing element, with (4) tons of information, requiring (2) sophisticated software engineering and metrics, and based on (3) a thorough understanding of individual and group behavior.
  • In section 4, I agree with the need for "inter" disciplinary instead of "super" or "multi" (but the "inter" diagram needs to look like a network, not a ring).
  • Also in Section 4, I like the "broad and deep" skill analogy, even though I am not sure "T-shaped people" is the right way to explain it. Nonetheless, we UX folks have been arguing about this for a while already. Examples: one Peter likes the T while another Peter thinks more holistically and suggests balanced teams should be the goal.
  • In Section 5, the recommendations were lacking an emphasis on the human element and enabling innovative experiences.

All in all, I see enough synergy between service science and user experience that I plan on seeing what other connections are useful to make. Feels like the tip of an iceberg.

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Frontiers in Service

A bunch of IBMers are at the Frontiers in Service conference in San Francisco this weekend. (Not too surprising, since IBM Research/SSME is a sponsor.) The eBrochure has an overview; the full program is a PDF. The topics being presented (and co-presented) by IBMers:

  • Measuring Information Relevance in Services
  • Meeting the Challenges of Service Science Management and Education in the New York City Area: An Inter-disciplinary Initiative
  • Information-Driven Service Systems
  • Comparative Analysis of the Russian IT Services Market. Scenarios, Tendencies and Recommendations
  • Bringing Services Theory and Methods to Online Service Applications
  • Lessons from a Service Innovation in the Consulting Industry
  • Component Business Modeling for Effective Enterprise Risk Management,
  • Virtual Service Delivery Centers
  • Service Excellence in Government: A Constituent-Centered Model
  • Servicing for the Future
  • ProACT: A solution for Automatic Customer Satisfaction Analysis and Business Intelligence in Contact Centers
  • Model-based Business Transformation for Engineering Services
  • Challenges and Models of Workforce Scheduling for Delivery Center Based IT Support Services
  • Increasing Efficiency of Call Handling Service using Cross-Border Knowledge Search
  • Estimating Value in Value Networks: A Case Study from Pharmaceutical Industry
  • Using Organizational Simulation to Support Service Business Transformation
  • Understanding Service Innovation Ecosystems
  • Designing and Building Technology Enabled Service Systems: Challenges and a Solution Framework -- Two Case Studies
  • Modeling Productivity and Performance Growth in Labor-based, Custom Services Firms
  • Towards Services Innovation in Japan
  • Leveraging your IT Investment using Business Intelligence (Panel)
  • Service Innovation and Company Profit (Panel)

Jim Spohrer invited people to attend, but I do not see anyone live-blogging from the event. I will keep my eyes open for summaries that get posted. If you spot any news from the conference, please leave a comment and a link to what you found.

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Day 2, Raw notes, Emergence conference

Sunday's raw notes from Emergence 07 (better late than never). Others have more interesting and more enlightening reports from the conference.

Chris Downs, Creating Profitable, Sustainable, and Responsible Services

  • live|work
  • Lucy Kimbell, Designing for services blog. "Academic research into service design in science and technology-based enterprises"
  • Designing interactions by Moggridge
  • Measuring triple bottom line impact: Economic, Environmental, Social
  • Public sector client - using the service design language, good sign
  • "We are a service business that just happens to make a product"
  • Stop now - that was his planned talk, rest is his new stuff, based on conversations at this conference.
  • Has this been an effective year in service design?
  • What is services (innovation and) design?
  • What is the reach? "If you can servicize a horseshoe nail, then you can servicize anything"
  • How is it different to transformation or experience design? Discipline or umbrella term that pulls others together? Is it social design? Green design?
  • Teach the front-line staff how to think about customer experience (instead of doing it for them).
  • What other disciplines are involved? Collaborative, multi-disciplinary. Core skills: Visual literacy/info design, empathy, complex organizational networks (new skill that is needed), facilitation skills (influence, not control people).
  • How different from management consulting? Optimism. Things can be improved. Open and collaborative. Outside-in.
  • Compare with service science? Some experience talking with IBM: technology driven, not about the customer experience.
  • Just "designing for services"? Not just good design? Design for good?
  • How do we measure it? Is it important to measure it yet?
  • How to make sure it reaches potential, not a fad? Be a service designer by "performing services". Be a member of the front-line staff, cannot be a good service designer without that experience. Students - give them real-world experience on the front line.
  • (who will pick it up next?), Jeff Howard reading list.
  • Service vs experience design? He does not know the difference. They thought they were experience designers a while ago, but it seemed more about 1-off experiences, branding, events. Not aligned with day-to-day operations of service.
  • Management consulting comparison. They are gonna get it quickly. Today, they do not listen, trust, learn. Unwillingness to even learn design language, we are pretty good about learning their languages. How to work with them: Start small, build trust, show value, keep nose out of trouble, be brilliant.
  • Risk: if service design is owned by design, it is in jeopardy. Give it to marketing and management consulting, in hope it will really live.
  • How do you help with organization behavior? They do it a lot, but not explicit. Biggest successes are the changes in culture. Give them authority, tools and confidence to make the changes themselves.
  • Fantasy curriculum? Not classroom based. Place students in service organizations. Evening is class time.
  • Organizational design affinity? Optimize the org chart around the customer experience. Others can apply these methods in their own discipline.
  • What fields make up your group? Product design, branding, social anthropology, operations management, ....
  • Umbrella or own discipline? No idea. This conference has opened up that question for him.
  • What happens when you label it? Building a business vs. building a discipline. Waves of design thinking with flashy names. They decay in many ways. It will be co-opted and reduced. Design should not be looking to design for the answers. Business models and the way we promote ourselves are challenges. Look at how markerting got from nothing to today. Or finance - how come all companies speak the language of finance? Study other disciplines.
  • What is the art in service design? Art is about the craft in design. Beauty of relinquishing control, giving them the gift to do their own service design.

John Bailey: Early Reflections on Practice Diagrams to Facilitate Service Design

  • Almaden research, part of a new area called "services research" - interdisciplinary. getting design established within services research. "This is where we hide the social scientists within IBM".
  • Over half of IBM's revenue comes from services
  • B2B may be thought of back-stage services, but in this context becomes more front-stage. A legal contract and negotation for this service (vs. promises in consumer world).
  • What is strategic outsourcing? One company runs the IT or business functions for another company (because they specialize in it, can innovate it) . Often geo-distributed. Highly customized.
  • Practice diagrams - to help with the sales part of the process.
  • Existing: documenting what the work should be, break the work into little boxes, but we want to know what people are really doing. The real world does not fit into those little boxes: where is the person in this?
  • Tell us what you do and ground that in a recent project
  • Wanted a diagram that is familair to their process people (e.g., database icon).
  • Go from work organization to work practice
  • 80% of the proposal work is shared content from many groups, lots of dependencies
  • "Helps us move forward, makes it feel more like a partnership, shared success". Helps them be customer-savvy, sports team mentality.
  • Quick and effective, UML was too much
  • How much driven by legal issues? Very prominent. The bulk of the work.

Jennifer Leonard: At your service: The blind men, the elephant, and the design of the world

  • About the value of wholistic thinking.
  • The poem about the blind men and the elephant
  • Massive change book: multi-disciplinary, "economies" morphed into "ecologies"
  • Examples: India innovates: foot pedal washing machine (Energy ecology), citizen reporters (information ecology).
  • How does it relate to service design? Embrace wholstic thinking, collaboration, multi-disciplinary.
  • Service means: support, penalty, risk, reward
  • Quality of services depends on responsibility, accountability, vulnerability, ability to give to ourselves
  • Trust - totally dependent on people along the way
  • Give good service, get good service - dialog between people
  • Bill Clinton, Giving: citizen activism and service are powerful agents of change
  • About Jennifer
  • Is service design a sub-discipline of design (like Indsutrial design)? It is much more than that. Meta-discipline: universal joint between all things produced. Obstacle - other disciplines (like architects) have built in client participation to the process. Will other disciplines participate? Medicine, law, etc. IS it our ambition for design to be the joint between things?
  • Not limited to those who call themselves "designers". For example, she interviewed chemists and economists for her book. Too broad? It is a discipline and it is a way of life.
  • Implications of these stories for organizations? First, do human design, find patterns, apply them for behavioral change, thus make the world a better place. Tell more stories. BizWeek is always talking about innovation and design. Business is more about collaboration than competition.
  • How to design-in the human element (e.g., facial expressions) into the service? Design is people. All of the details. Technology does its thing but human interaction, the person's attitude/smile/etc. is crucial to the experience? Antanas Mockus.

Oliver King (and panelists): How service design could have saved the world

  • Pass the parcel / hot potato with the microphone.
  • State of the future 2007.
  • Designers as facilitators? What makes us qualified to do this? There are professional facilitators out there.
  • Influencing change, giving up responsibility, initiating ideas.
  • Making things easier, is that our job? Make flexibe tools and services, and observe use.
  • Help people help themselves. Long-term responsibility (service contracts, not engagements). Entrepreneurialism.
  • Service design - be the glue layer, add value, like systems engineering. Integration skills.
  • You can change your local world, but the world as a whole is a political thing (and thus it cannot be changed?).
  • The problem changes as you work on it. You need to be embedded in the system.
  • Designers integrated into a multi-disciplinary team vs. centralized group of designers. You need to live in both worlds: within the system and within your profession. There are design consultancies when we need centralized expertise. How do individuals stay connected to their profession: maintain the network.
  • Find pockets of cohesive people and enable them.
  • Are we just patting ourselves on the back - apply service design to make society worse (Halliburton).
  • Cradle to cradle: efficient vs. effective.
  • Working with large (evil) corporations: make small improvements, plant seeds ("This will be the last car you ever buy").
  • What is "good"?
  • What makes some networks / multi-disciplinary labs work? At start-up: strong, passionate leaders. Then it runs on its own.
  • Teach the kids.
  • Notation, interpreters, translators, common language.
  • Stuart brand - The Long Now.

Richard Buchanan, Personal summary

  • Four boundaries of service design: 1. Graphic design (old discipline) 2. Product (industrial) design (focus on use is different) 3. System design (technical and organizational systems) 4. Management ("bad management" lacks wholeness, visualization, embodiment/losing touch with production).
  • Scope of service design - clear definitions not needed, focus on the end result of service design.
  • Not "make experiences". Got tired of AIGA Experience Design, too soft.
  • Core of services design (like healthcare and education) are core of human society.
  • George Nelson: design as humble occupation, serve people.
  • Information is lifeblood of good sservice - so Internet plays a special role.
  • Missing from the conference: 3-4 basic strategies that sit above the methods and techniques.
  • "How do we work together" was common discussion.
  • Activating people has power.
  • His definition of service design: Equitable distribution of resources and tools to use them (just like architects)
  • Service design as an umbrella.

Discussion about the conference

  • "I am utterly confused now, thanks!" - what more do you want from a conference?
  • Missing was the "make something together" piece, creative element (e.g., draw something together).
  • Who was here? How do I stay connected with the others who were here? Attendee list being sent out to attendees.
  • Industry/practitioners: no time to write a paper.
  • How to be a force for change.
  • Case studies.
  • Yahoo! group on service design.
  • Collection of sites about service design.
  • Bye!

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Day 1, afternoon, raw notes, Emergence conference

Todd Wilkens: The end of products

  • Eastman: the camera as an entrance to a service (the factory does the rest).
  • "Everything is part of an ecosystem" - not profound anymore.
  • Embrace complexity, build empathy.
  • Products in the lab; services in the field.
  • Stage 1 - it is possible. Stage 2 - features. Stage 3 - Experience.
  • Difference between Rio and iPod: hide the complexity, service of the iTunes store.
  • Giving up control (of every piece of the experience) makes it exponentially harder. Flickr - just sits in the middle and makes it seemless.
  • Not the end of products, but the end of the product mindset.
  • Is this the end of service design (as a niche, special field)? We will be obsolete soon (because everyone will be doing it). "And I hope I never see you again either, Todd."
  • It just becomes "good design", not "a new way to design". AdaptivePath does not sell "service design" but clients understand focusing on experience, not on features. Start with "what are your problems" not on terminology.
  • Designers are good at making ideas tangible - but not only designers have that skill.
  • Are all products in fact entry points into services? Yes, but many are not fulfilling the potential.
  • Also, hang out with marketing/ad people.

Panel: Maybe we can always get what we want?

  • Ubiquitous computing and the future of services.
  • Expectations are high, lead to disappointment.
  • Unintended consequences and the dark side.
  • How can you give people what they want when they do not know what they want?
  • We have no choice, privacy is gone, just participate (e.g., have to use the iPass).
  • It is not rocket science to figure out what people do (e.g., what people do in a hotel room) - good designers have always done it the right way.
  • Declining sense of justice in the world - how can service affect this, distribution of quality of life? "Service" approach helps focus on who is using it, and that leads to good things.
  • Eliminate the broken systems, do not try to integrate as best we can.

Bettina von Kupsch: How to Become a Service Champion

  • Cultural change.
  • How to measure the quality of service?
  • 3 layers: Basics, Behavior/environment, Commitment.
  • "Wow-box" - small idea, quick way to share positive feedback from customers.
  • Employees are the key to superior service. Long-term management commitment.
  • Negative experiences with SwissComm seen as 1-off: good.
  • Touch personally to have it talked about.
  • New products are often aquisition, service is retention.
  • Isn't this just good management? What is novel? Integrated approach, not just working on 1 piece.
  • How did you get service to be so important to the company? We are Swiss.
  • If employee morale goes down, service quality will go down.
  • Looking outside theirindustry for benchmarks of good service.

Off to the Andy Warhol Museum

(Reformatted September 14th for easier scanning)

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Raw notes from Day 1 (morning) at Emergence 2007

Friday night

Jamin Hegeman, Shelley Evenson: About the conference

Martin Wattenberg, Fernanda Viegas: Visual thinking at a global scale

  • Many eyes with lots of examples of death, drinking, oil and political speeches.
  • Community angle lets visualizations evolve along with the discussions.
  • Text analysis: tag clouds, word trees.
  • Article about Blog discussions of the visualizations.
  • Integration into other sites: Visualizing Earmarks.
  • And many more stories where these visualizations are making a difference. Scientific discovery, personal expression, journalism and advocacy, social interaction/fun.
  • Target pain points (traditional) vs. Erogenous zones.
  • This is an example of "visualization as a service", instead of as an application.

Harold Hambrose: Service as a discipline, Designers at the helm

  • From last year: Service triangle (where technology is in the middle). His model: Technology (off to the side) to enable the human providers of the service.
  • Examples: 911 call center, diner menu system. These "back stage" systems often not designed by designers.
  • Designers are: observers, communicators (visually), modelers, problem solvers.
  • Health service examples from Electronic Ink.
  • Start with observing and drawing the relationships, processes, etc. Visual artifact example: data visualization of transfers to other hospital units, leads to recommendations on physical organziation. Then can come some technology recomendations, like wireless devices.
  • Net: this group of people had no means of drawing pictures (models) to understand what is going on at a high level.
  • Documenting "breakdowns" (not all are bad things).
  • Biggest problem: Selling design here. Quickly provide value (within a week).
  • Needed for insurance, healthcare, etc. - but Design Education needs this the most. "Why would we ever send a designer into a hospital? We do posters."
  • Designers are unique because as they analyze, they start thinking of the solutions (vs. just documenting the problems).
  • Collaborate with human factors, and many others, so it is really the multi-disciplinary team that is the key.

Claudio Pinhanez: Services as Customer-Intensive Systems

  • What is the difference between manufacturing-thinking and service-thinking?
  • Negative definition of "services" - what it is not. Can go too far - everything is a service. Both useless.
  • Definitions of "customer" - the person who pays vs. the person who recieves the value.
  • Customer-intensive is when the "production" cannot really start until the customer arrives (car repair, hospital). YOU are on the conveyor belt.
  • Customer-centered view: provider and receiver, part of the process, it waits for me, it uses me.
  • Official list of services (NAICS) - which are not customer-intensive industries? Movie-making, publishing (including shrink-wrapped software).
  • Continuum of manufacturing to service models.
  • Minimize the perceived time (e.g., fix the PC overnight).
  • Measure of quality of a service includes the process.
  • Emotionally-loaded.
  • Product designers vs. services designers.
  • Good: human-centricity. Bad: New methods needed because of customer intensity. Ugly: Theater director type skills needed, not artistic talent (people, timing, emotions).
  • What happens when the customer is a business? Navy does not know how to procure a service.
  • Back-end systems are impregnated with customer stuff.
  • Question: Utility company, put customer consuming electrons at the center of the model.
  • Question: B2b services, pace-layering.
  • Question: Is service design fundamentally different from product design? Design of the iPod (vs. designing iTunes store).

Time for lunch

(Reformatted September 14th for easier scanning)

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Emergence 2007 conference, Pittsburgh, September 8-9

I just registered for Emergence 2007 - "Exploring the boundaries of service design." I have been reading up on various service innovation topics and I see a lot of connections with user experience. The Emergence conference looked perfect because it was within driving distance and focuses on the design aspect.

Parts of the program I find most promising are the 3 different talks from IBMers and Todd Wilkens ("the end of product design") but I am sure I will learn a lot from the whole event.

I also find it interesting that this is a weekend conference. Is it a rule that "new fields" start out with weekend conferences and then as they become more established, they hold their events during the week? All based on whether the boss will let you take time off work.

If you are also attending, leave a comment so we can meet up.

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Service innovation

Checking out some of my Innovation resources, I hit Business Innovation from BusinessWeek. "IBM" jumped out at me, leading me to:

I knew that the Almaden lab was doing service research (excuse the legacy page design). The news here is the announcement of the Service Research & Innovation Initiative. Their first big activity appears to be a symposium on May 30th.

Jim Spohrer, the IBMer involved with this, used to be active in HCI. Nice to see him move into the "business research" area.

I see this as the natural progression in The Experience Economy (a book in my UX Zeitgeist). Stages of economic value: Extract commodities, Make goods (product innovation), Deliver services, Stage experiences.

So when will we get the "Experience Research & Innovation Initiative"? I am kinda surprised "Experience Innovation" was NOT listed as a "next realm of business" in the NextD slash at IA.

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