Magazine

Livework’s predictions for 2015

As Abraham Lincoln said ‘the best way to predict your future is to create it’ and here at Livework we’re already working in ways that herald new directions and extend how Service Design is thought of and used into new territories. The one consistent theme across them all is to increase the value of service design.

Creating trends, not following them

Rather than joining in the lively and crowded debates about new technology, social media and other topical trends that are already being discussed extensively elsewhere we’re keen to highlight trends that we can confidently predict will happen – because we’re already making them a reality.

1. Service Design does ‘non-service design’ work

Service design is used to design services, right? Well yes, but increasingly we are seeing service design used as a ‘refreshing’ alternative to other more established practices.

  • Employee engagement: A growth area and definite trend is the use of service design to support transformation and change through more engaging, creative and productive employee engagement. For example London Underground saw the opportunity to use service design as a way to engage over 2000 front line staff in major changes to their jobs and working environment.
  • Proposition development: Businesses would traditionally turn to strategy consultants to rethink their core offerings. We are seeing that the outside-in approach that we take and the quality insights that service design delivers are compelling alternatives to what is perceived as more ‘off the shelf’ consultancy.
  • Organisational change: When something major rocks your organisation and you need to re-align around a new reality you would not traditionally turn to designers. However, on more than one occasion in 2014 we were asked to help a business do just that. Using co-design has been a key component of this work. By involving stakeholders in the understanding of the current situation and creative story telling to imagine new ways of working we are able to constructively design the future with our clients.
  • Service Design for Mergers & Acquisitions: What happens to customers when companies merge? When brands, organisations and business objectives collide, service design can ensure that the customer experience is put at the centre of the merger. This helps organisations focus on creating value, and customers to continue to be served in the manner to which they’ve become accustomed – and much more.

2. Service design for innovation with impact

In the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, there has been a focus on austerity– service design responded by focusing on supporting this work, often as a part of a cost-cutting activity. The call has generally been to ‘do more with less’.  Now we are starting to see innovation being talked about and actively sought again – not in the pre-crash ‘let’s all have fun’ way, but as a serious activity undertaken by organisations who want and need to differentiate to survive in a markedly changed market. Service design with an emphasis on validation, proof and delivery is perfectly placed for innovation with impact.

3. Service Design in government accelerates

We have been working away in public services for a decade and some of the most notable successes in the infancy of service design were in the public sector. Now in 2015, we are finally seeing SD as an explicit competence of government, and with some foundation.

The success of the Government Digital Service in UK has sparked interest across the globe and seen a recognition that there is a need for service design, rather than more standard lean or business process fixes. Service design approaches are being adopted at the very highest levels of government, The Ministry for Justice and the Cabinet Office’s Policylab are working to re-think services, with a clear recognition of customer behaviour as a factor in service effectiveness. To work, SD must be married to strong cost awareness and clear governance mechanisms.

4. Service designers wanted in big and traditional organisations

When Livework started we were the only service design firm on the block. We have actively encouraged others to follow and do our bit to grow a discipline. Most of this activity has been in other small firms like ourselves with the odd exception in a particularly forward thinking organisation such as Volkswagen or cool start-ups. Now we are also seeing a rapid growth in the demand for service designs in organisations from Barclays Bank to Citizens Advice (and yes, even Ryan Air) and local government in the UK and traditional global manufacturing businesses, to name just a few…

As organisations continue to recognise the value that service design can bring. This has to be good as some service challenges require people very close to the delivery. We wish you all the best of luck.

5. The internet of things needs service design

The Internet of things looks set to happen in 2015 with devices – such as Nest becoming mainstream. According to Gartner, the IoT will grow to 26 billion units installed by 2020. However, there is a difference between a new device that looks cool and a new device that is well used and consistently delivers value. That requires a different kind of thought and design to be valuable to customers – one that we believe service design – with its focus on customer-centricity and scrupulous analysis of how a service is experienced across time and channels, is uniquely equipped to deliver.

The trend for seamless, consistently good service is set to continue

Every year new products, technologies, and ideas will be launched and heralded as the next big thing. What we do is always evolving and adapting too but the values that underpin it – that putting the customer at the heart of a proposition – working from the outside in and seeking to find the best possible fit between a businesses goals and its users’ real needs will never go out of style.

Happy 2015

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