Hold your horses just for a minute before digitalizing your service business!

by Taru Hakanen and Pasi Pussinen

Digitalization offers immense opportunities for making your service business bloom. It brings new channels for reaching your customers, interacting with them, and involving them in service co-creation. Whether it is a matter of the Internet of Things (IoT), the industrial internet or any digital solution, we all want to win this race. However, before rushing into purchasing a number of new gadgets, sensors and applications, take a minute and think through: where exactly you are heading with digitalization?

The five questions below guide you to find the very core of your business development aims and provide examples of the ways that digitalization can help you in achieving those:

Discovering new markets and customers?

  • Acquiring customer knowledge (e.g. CRM, marketing information systems, IoT for user data collection)
  • Analysing and interpreting customer knowledge (e.g. CRM, analytic tools)
  • Increasing the visibility of own company and services (e-marketing)

Renewing and designing attractive service portfolio?

  • Collection of new ideas from customers and other stakeholders for service innovation (e.g. co-creation platforms, social media)
  • Complementing service portfolio with new digital services and ‘smart’ products (e.g. smart IoT solutions)

Increasing sales and the efficiency of sales processes?

  • Utilizing digital sales tools and solutions (e.g. CRM, digital visualisation)
  • Exploiting digital sales and marketing channels (e.g. online shopping, social media)
  • Collecting sales leads from the customer interface (e.g. IoT technology for machine condition monitoring, mobile solutions for service personnel)

Designing cost-efficient service processes?

  • Efficient management of internal and customer resources (e.g. ERP-systems, resource management software solutions, mobile solutions)
  • Designing self-services and remote services (e.g. online training, real-time monitoring and remote problem solving with IoT)
  • Online shopping and digital distribution channels

Enhancing customer satisfaction and creating positive customer experience?

  • Real-time reporting for customers and future forecast
  • Implementing new channels of customer interaction in service co-creation (e.g. co-creation platforms)
  • Enabling multiple channels of customer feedback (e.g. social media)

All of the above business aims are undoubtedly salient in service business. But as we all know, we have to start somewhere and prioritize our decisions and actions, especially when significant development investments are involved. When you have a clear vision of the drivers for your business success, selecting adequate digital solutions also becomes easier!

Fimecc S4Fleet programme: https://www.fimecc.com/content/s4fleet

Master and Apprentice, or Teacher and Student

The old-fashioned way to become a master of something has been through the “master-and-apprentice” – method. Young and inexperienced workers team-up with more experienced colleaques, and the long process of “do-as-I-show-you” begins. This has been the custom since the Middle Ages, when master craftsmen would train young novices. The same approach still lives in the 21st century, just developed into something called “mentoring”. The term “mentoring” comes  from Homer’s Odyssey:

 ”Odysseus asked Mentor to act as a foster-dad for his son Telemachus,
when Odysseus left for the Trojan War”.

The apprentice is nowadays called actor or mentee. Today’s mentors do not so much tell apprentices to “do-as-I-show-you”, but rather encourage them in exploring their careers to new dimensions, coach and train the actors to see other viewpoints, and most importantly: transfer tacit knowledge. In knowledge intensive organizations, there’s a lot of tacit knowledge hanging around, we just don’t always see it. There is no way to document everything and – even if there was – there would be no one with enough time to read all that. Mentors, with their experience and know-how, can see the relevant aspects of tacit knowledge and transfer that to apprentices. Apprentices, on the other hand, can challenge the “old viewpoint” and develop new, fresh ways to implement tacit knowledge in the company. The feedback from apprentices also provides the mentors possibilities to discover something new.

Here at VTT mentoring is an activity which covers the entire organization, from scientists to customer managers, from financial personnel to team leaders. The official mentoring program at VTT is a year long activity, and has currently some 50 mentor-actor pairs engaged. From our team Pasi in involved as an actor, and is being mentored by Marko Jurvansuu (principal scientist / key account manager) for the customer management – track.

The Others

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Scientists…are they team players or lone wolves? For some reason it’s thought that scientific work is a solo performance, it’s you against the world kind of situation. The Finnish culture doesn’t really ease the situation, Finns aren’t very talkative and information in given on a “need-to-know” basis to others. But you are not alone, in fact, did you know that you do have co-workers? That you are not alone? That there are people in the same situation as you?

Who are these people, and what are they working on?

Have you seen them? Those strange people that are some how affiliated to you at work place. They work near you, walk in the same hallways, use the same lavatories as you, eat in the same cafeteria as you. And last time you checked….they even work in the same team as you! One of them even tried to greet you while passing by in the hallway!

Yeah, they are called co-workers. Why are they called co-workers and why are you guys in the same team….because your work is supposed to go together. You are a Team.

Yes, Team, I like that, but I don’t know anything about their work!

This is quite common in research institutes, probably in all professional service industries as well. Individuals are experts and experts have a weird tendency to get isolated and work alone like hermits. But we are not hermits, we are social animals!

Best results happen when experts come together, and expertise’s get mixed up. And you get know you co-workers as well (it’s polite to greet back you know…)

To make this happen, we have introduced “Substance Quarter”  in our team. Every Friday at 08.30 AM (I know, brutal time, isn’t it 🙂 ) someone from the team will give a 5 minute introduction on some topic he/she is working on currently, or finds interesting. This way we get to know what interests scientists in the team and what are their viewpoints and methods. Remaining 10 minutes are reserved for discussion, questions, drinking coffee, being amazed from the presentation, eating pastries (remember, we work on “pulla, see post by Kaarina).

And this activity is, again, completely voluntarily.

Presentations…again?!

Yes, again. Giving presentations about you work is excellent practice and makes you really think about what you are doing. Especially because you need to be able to mainstream your work for people who are not experts in your particular field.

So if you feel like Sting, like a legal alien (Englishman in New York) in your team, start the substance quarters today!

TeamUpSpace – get yours today!

Do you like team work?

Do you enjoy being around people?

Would you like to get influenced by others?

Do you want to think differently?

Did you say yes? Then what you need is a TeamUpSpace! Yes, that’s right, a TeamUpSpace will make your creativity skyrocket and break innovative ideas free!

Sooo… what is this TeamUpSpace?

TeamUpSpace is a non-reservable space with bright colours, inspiring wall paper and funky furniture. You know, something you WON’T see in a normal meeting room. This is because it isn’t a normal meeting room. The idea is that anyone can come to the TeamUpSpace at any time and work there. The catch is that there are others working there as well, and they can see that you are doing something – and maybe even ask what it is you are doing.WP_000004

Iiik! But they will see my work, then what?!?

Yeeees, that’s the idea, to show others your work and your interests. Who knows, maybe they will have something to say about it, maybe even feedback to give, or maybe, just maybe, they’ll have an INFLUENCE on your work. Imagine that! It actually is good to showcase your work and to see what others are doing as well. There is a good change that you will learn from one another. And that is something that WON’T happen in you private office room, in that chamber of secrets you have. TeamUpSpace is also very handy for ad-hoc meetings, brainstorming, socializing and whatnot.

Hmm, so what ingredients does a TeamUpSpace have?

Anything that makes you feel comfortable and cozy, basically. We have used bright colours and out-of-the-context furniture. We also added some LCD-screens, network cables, power plugs here and there, and so on – to make working and sharing possible. Yes, we use laptops quite a lot around here, so that’s why we have the tech. Also we have added big desks, colorful papers and markers for drawing up things. And to spice things up a bit, we have a nice comfy couch and a couple of fatboys! (The bean bag chairs, not actually two fat boys standing around.)WP_000008

All right, I’m convinced – I want to try it!

That’s the spirit! All you need to do in order to build a TeamUpSpace is to find an empty room, or a room with no meaningful purpose, and convert that to a TeamUpSpace. It would be nice if the room had a center location so that it would be easy for people to accidentally drop it. Better yet – location and room structure should be so that people could see inside the room and peek what’s going on in there when they are walking by to their private offices.

…or if you are visiting VTT premises at Oulu, come and try our TUPS at the E-wing, 2nd floor, room number E226.

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