Tiina Tanninen-Ahonen: People as a starting point

In the field of service business people are always the starting point for operations. The value chain for the service sector does not begin with production and end at the end user, rather the reverse applies: the value chain always begins with the end user. Success in service business requires a change in mindset; the ability to think first of those people, whose choices service business is based on.

The service sector does not view people as objects, but rather as active participants; subjects. As users, buyers and producers of services and products, we are all first-and-foremost people in an assortment of roles. We are employees, developers, mothers and fathers, someone's children, students, we go on holiday, we take part in hobbies, we are motorists, citizens and patients. We are also at different stages of our lives and in different life situations. Some of us are time-poor and others time-rich. At this stage of my life, I feel that I am time-poor.

In order for service providers to be able to create value for us, they must recognise our different roles and the possibilities and limitations related to these. The only way to understand that which would bring a customer the utmost added value, is to step into their daily lives, be it their home life or work life, in factory halls or hospital rooms.

Think of tomorrow, but act today

Service innovations are not the result of laboratory tests. Customers and end users should be included in the value creating process. Customers and end users are partners in the creation of service innovations and have an important role in spreading new expertise. Time spent with customers and end users is the best method of also marketing new things to other potential users.

People must be included in this activity today. Service innovation developers must also remain alert and keep their sight set firmly on the future. It is imperative to see beyond a customer's present situation and to be able to envision what the customer or end user will want tomorrow. Forerunners predict customer needs and also challenge their customers or others to look outside their familiar box.

The three-year-long EPSIS project, coordinated by the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (Tekes) and funded by the European Commission, has also pondered the individual person's role in service innovations.

EPSIS will end in August, but implementation of service innovations and immaterial content will continue in the form of, for example, Tekes projects.

Read publications from the EPSIS Conference

Think people first!

Tiina Tanninen-Ahonen
Director, Service Innovation, M.Sc. (Eng.)

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