Minna Suutari: Forerunners wanted!

11/9/2012
Emotions have always been a part of interaction between people. However, they have not been utilised as a source of growth and innovation as systematically as they could. Emotions and meanings have been overlooked in creating and funding new innovations. Until now, the way forward has been productive and technological competence.
In today's world, standing out from competitors in the global market involves more than the price and functional features of a product. We are moving towards an economy of emotions, experiences and meanings, and intangible value creation – the element of business that used to be invisible – is becoming a key strategic driver for the competitiveness of companies.

As consumers, we are increasingly seeking experiences that bring us joy and happiness. We look for products and services that make us feel unique, give us opportunities to fulfil ourselves or give us a more prominent status.

We invest in solutions that make daily life easier or give us peace of mind, security and care. We want humanity and socially, ecologically and ethically sustainable practices. We are also willing to pay for our dignity, for being more successful and appreciated, for avoiding grief and saving resources.

In response to these needs, Tekes launched in November a new programme for intangible value creation and experienced value. The programme encourages companies to find ways to use emotions in creating growth and a competitive edge.

The programme focuses particularly on products and services with a high added value. The more a product or a service involves knowledge, expertise or technology, the more significant is, for example, the role of trust in customer interaction, and the more emotions become a part of business.

In addition to emotions, the core elements of the programme include the value experienced by customers and the intangible factors of production – such as brand, reputation, knowledge capital and leadership – that form the basis of a credible and profitable emotion business.

The new programme for intangible value creation has been met with positive reactions from the potential clientele and Tekes itself. I have received enthusiastic phone calls and emails from people who have noticed the programme launch. Even sceptics have begun discussing the role of emotions in business.

The initial response has exceeded my expectations! What would be the point of a six-year programme if everyone had already recognised the importance emotions can have in business? We need input from both brave forerunners and doubtful sceptics to create innovations that are truly different.

All forms of business involve emotions and experiences in one way or another, even if hidden. Forerunners are those who can productise an emotion as a visible customer experience and a competitive edge in the global market. Without forerunners, emotions do not change into profits.

Could you be a forerunner in turning emotions into business?

The author Minna Suutari is the Programme Manager of the new Tekes programme for intangible value creation.

www.tekes.fi/fiilis

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