Pk-teollisuuden palveluviennin uudet mahdollisuudet

by Taru Hakanen

Suomen valmistava teollisuus vastaa tavaraviennin lisäksi myös suurimmasta osasta palveluvientiä: yritykset tarjoavat muun muassa investointihyödykkeisiin liittyviä huolto- ja kunnossapitopalveluja ja teknistä tukea maailmanlaajuisesti Koneen ja monen muun ison yrityksen tapaan. Kun tavaraviennin arvo on ollut viime vuosina n. 55 miljardia, palveluviennin arvo on ollut 20 miljardin luokkaa.

Palveluviennin arvoa olisi mahdollista kasvattaa enemmänkin ottaen huomioon sen, että kansainväliset palvelumarkkinat kasvavat paljon tuotemarkkinoita nopeammin. Tässä kohtaa – isojen yritysten hienon panoksen lisäksi – katse voidaan kääntää myös mahdollisiin uusiin kasvualueisiin: pk-yritysten palveluvientiin ja digitaalisten palvelujen tuomiin mahdollisuuksiin palveluviennin kasvattajana.

Tavara- ja palveluvienti tukevat toisiaan eikä toisen kasvattaminen ole toista vastaan – päinvastoin. Panostuksia tarvitaan molemmissa, mutta uutta kasvua voisi hakea yhä voimakkaammin myös pk-yrityksistä ja palvelualoilta, joissa tarjoomassa ei ole tuotteita ollenkaan. Näitä palveluja voisi lisäksi kehittää ja skaalata erilaisilla digitaalisilla ratkaisuilla.

Suomessa on valtavasti pk-yrityksiä, jotka ovat jo mukana palveluviennissä ja joilla olisi potentiaalia kasvattaa sitä merkittävästi. Tällaisia aloja ovat esimerkiksi konepajateollisuus, IT, suunnitteluala ja konsultointi. Yritysten on mahdollista uudistaa tuotetarjoomaa radikaalistikin täydentämällä sitä palveluilla tai jopa rakentamalla tarjooma palvelu edellä – ja valita vasta sitten palvelun mahdollistavat teknologiset ratkaisut.

Menestykseen kansainvälisillä markkinoilla on vielä paljon tehtävää: Tarvitaan rohkeita palvelustrategioita, syvällistä asiakasymmärrystä yritysasiakkaiden ostokäyttäytymisestä kansainvälisillä markkinoilla, uudenlaisia ansaintalogiikoita, houkuttelevaa palvelujen konseptointia sekä asiakaskeskeisten ja tehokkaiden myynti- ja palveluverkostojen luomista. Menestyksekkäimmät kv-markkinoilla toimivat yritykset osaavat mallikkaasti yhdistää asiakasläheisyyden ja tehokkaat palveluprosessit.

globe

Going beyond ‘producers’ and ‘consumers’

Categorization is an important tool in the human sense making process. We often tend to look at the world around us and study things and phenomena by trying to understand how they differ from each other. To a point this is a very good practice – it enables us to organize the chaos around us. However, there is no ‘one best way’ to categorize. Hence, as our understanding of the world and of ourselves grows, we need to reframe the categories we use for interpreting the world. This is when the challenge arises. The ‘traditional’ categories are so deeply ingrained in us that they become more of a constraining force than an enabling one. They hinder our ability to see things in a new way.

One of the aims of service-dominant (S-D) logic [1] is to make us to see beyond the traditional categorizations that constrain our understanding of marketing and business in general. It does this by offering concepts that transcend the conventional categories we use in our everyday lives. One of these is the concept of service – applying your skills and knowledge for the benefit of another – that overcomes the separation of products and services (for more information see my previous post). This time, however, I’m going to focus on another conventional categorization – that of dividing the world into ‘producers’ and ‘consumers’.

If exaggerating a little – and a little really is enough – the traditional story goes like this: the world of business consists of ‘producers’, who make things of necessity and value, and of ‘consumers’ who buy and consume these things and then come back to ask for more. In other words, the ‘producer’ is seen as a creator of value and the ‘consumer’ as a destroyer of value [2] (or at least as a very passive participant of whatever is going on).

Producers and consumers

Instead of this imbalanced and one-directional logic of business and value creation, S-D logic suggests that all actors, such as individual people (me) or groups of people like households (my family), companies (my employer, grocery store, cell phone manufacturer), etc. actually are doing fundamentally the same thing: engaging in exchange to create value for themselves [3]. This is done through offering service – the application of my knowledge and skills for somebody else – in order to receive service – application of other person’s knowledge and skills for my benefit – in return. In the modern world this direct service-for-service exchange is often masked by money (the right for service) as the service that I can provide is not what the person or persons, whose service I would need, really want. Instead, I work (provide service) for a company, who pays me money by which I can acquire service from somebody else. It is this thick soup of service-for-service exchanges that creates the complex systems of interconnected actors that co-create value together. Why co-create? Because, whether we want it or not, none of us could do it all by ourselves.

Resource integrators

References:

[1] Vargo, S.L. & Lusch, R.F. (2004) Evolving to a new dominant logic for marketing. Journal of Marketing, 68 (January), 1-17.

[2] Vargo, S.L. & Lusch, R.F. (2011) It’s all B2B…and beyond: Toward a systems perspective of the market. Industrial Marketing Management 40, 181-187

[3] Vargo, S.L. & Lusch, R.F. (2008) Service-Dominant Logic: Continuing the Evolution. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science 36, 1-10.

Self-fulfilling prophesies – Part 2

In an award winning article Ferraro, Pfeffer and Sutton (2005) show how the ideas of economics affected our view of social reality. More specifically, they show how the underlying assumptions of self-interest and market mechanism become part of the language and institutional design, and shape the beliefs about what is appropriate. As a result, language, institutions and values work together to create a social reality, which corresponds to the initial assumptions and ideas of economics. Thus, the theories become true, rather than explain social reality as it is observed.

We discuss this topic here because – as the article demonstrates – the same mechanisms that make theories self-fulfilling permeates managerial decisions and behaviour, business practices and employer-employee relationships. We draw two lessons from Ferraro and colleagues’ article. First, organisational management can recognise these mechanisms and influence the social structures of their business to adopt a different worldview. The way an organisation views the world around it affects its ability to innovate and, hence, compete. Second lesson parallels the blue ocean strategy by Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne (2005), that suggests that companies can create market space for their offerings rather than compete in the existing markets. In other words, the same mechanisms that are not recognised in self-fulfilling theories, when understood, can be used to advance the competitive position.  That said, it should be mentioned that such mechanisms are not easily recognised and are difficult to manage because of their emergent nature. But the exploration of such processes is part of management research.

Ferraro et al. illustrates when the self-fulfilling mechanisms take root.

  1. ‘To successfully diffuse in a society or an organization, the assumptions and language of economics need to resonate with at least some of the existing norms’ (p.17). When ideas resonate with some critical elements of the culture they engage with the existing cultural and social norms. With time the correspondence between assumptions and existing beliefs will begin to contribute to the definition of the norms.
  2. Although different cultures will have different rate of acceptance of the assumptions of economics their affect is global. This is because ‘contemporary organizations all over the world are increasingly characterized by practices that embody the dominant behavioral assumptions of economics and its language, creating the conditions for the operation of the self-fulfilling process… at a global level’ (p.17). In other worlds, organisations borrow managerial practices from each other thereby defusing them globally.
  3. The existence of explicit or implicit processes of accountability fosters the sense that assumptions are natural and intuitive. ‘Accountability is the implicit or explicit expectation that one may be called on to justify one’s beliefs, feelings and actions to others’ (ibidem). Accountability creates conditions for social actors to personify the behaviour, which is assumed to be legitimate.

Why is this important for service or experience? When organisation sets out to provide a service or create an experience it acts on its assumptions about human nature. For example, an assumption that customers are motivated by self-interest is to design a business model that offers value in accordance with this reality. As a result a company engages customers in the behaviour that corresponds to the prior assumption. Because service and experience exist only while provider produces and customer consumes (Ng and Smith, 2012) ‘motives are learned… from those in the immediate situation’ (Ferraro et al., p.20).

Imperial studies will show how well spread these mechanisms are. But one final point seems to follow from the article. Namely, customer value and motivation is not exclusively exogenous to the organisation but is also endogenous to the organisational activities.

Source: Fabrizio Ferrano, Jeffrey Pfeffer, Robert I. Sutton, 2005: Economics Language and assumptions: How theories can become self-fulfilling. Academy of Management Review, Vol. 30, Issue 1, pp. 9-24.

Kim, W.C. and Mauborgne, R., 2005: Blue ocean strategy: How to create uncontested market space and make the competition irrelevant. Harvard Business School Press.
Ng., I.C.L. and Smith, L.A., 2012: An Integrative Framework of Value, In Stephen L. Vargo, Robert F. Lusch (ed.) Special Issue – Toward a Better Understanding of the Role of Value in Markets and Marketing (Review of Marketing Research, Volume 9), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.207-243. doi: 10.1108/S1548-6435(2012)0000009011.

We need to understand the user rather than technology

“People’s behavior makes sense if you think about it in terms of their goals, needs, and motives.” 

(Nobel Laureate Thomas Mann)

The study of the relationship between human and technology has evolved as one of the most dynamic and significant fields of technology research. Until quite recently, the scope of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) research was more focused on optimizing the traditional usability and utilitarian aspects of the service, and the HCI community more or less overlooked the social and emotional phenomena of interaction. But now the user is being regarded as an individual who has dreams and emotional experiences, and voluntarily takes a decision to use a service for personal and social purposes, instead of merely considering the user as a cognitive decision-maker or an expert obligated to use a service for work-related motives.

Thus, the shift of focus in HCI research has been from the traditional usability-centered view toward researching and designing for enjoyable and engaging experiences by highlighting the non-utilitarian aspects of interaction. Today the HCI field emphasizes an approach to research and design for enjoyable and engaging experiences: “Now it is no longer adequate just to avoid bad experiences; we have to find methods for designing good ones” [3]. We need to take into account aspects that go beyond the obvious. User experience is seen as something desirable, though what exactly something means remains open and debatable [8].

Therefore, one of the greatest challenges is to incorporate the “voice of the customer” into the design of new products and services [9]. The involvement of users and gaining a deeper understanding of them ensures that the product or service will be suitable for its intended purpose in the environment in which it will be used [1]. As stated by Cockton [4], the right question is this “What do users really want?”

graph_people_black_background

Given the foregoing, for understanding what motivates users to use a product or service, it is important to understand and identify what is important to them. Design work should not be based on generic models of the users [1], yet understanding about users still often remains at the level of only very basic user characteristics. Developers often have a vague or contradictory idea of the intended users of the service, and may base scenarios on people similar to themselves [6]. Also, developers often underestimate the diversity of users [5]. Such an approach does not help designers develop insights or identify the linkage of users’ in-depth service needs, motivations, and values to technology features [7], and, as a consequence, detail-level and fundamental design decisions are made without an explicit understanding of users’ in-depth service needs and core motivations to service usage.

It is much easier to design successful services if there is some understanding of the people who are likely to use them. Also, it is critical to the success of a service that appropriate and representative users are involved in the development work [5]. In consequence, today’s technology research emphasizes deep user-drivenness: we try to understand the person as a user of a technology. We should listen to what people say in order to find out the explicit knowledge that people are able to express in words; watch what people do and what they use in order to obtain information on observable experience; investigate what people think and know to achieve their perceptions of experience; and understand how people feel in order to be able to empathize with them [2].

We cannot design an experience, but with a sensitive and skilled way of understanding users, we can design for an experience [10]. We should make sure that we have the best possible understanding and prerequisites to design the (service) elements that influence user experience [2].

References:

[1] Abras, C., Maloney-Krichmar, D., and Preece, J. (2004) User-centred design. Bainbridge, W., Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction. Thousand Oaks, California, USA: Sage Publications.
[2] Arhippainen, L. (2009) Studying User Experience: Issues and Problems of Mobile Services – Case ADAMOS: User Experience (Im)possible to Catch? Doctoral thesis, Oulu, Finland: Oulu University Press.
[3] Blythe, M. and Wright, P. (2003) Introduction – from usability to enjoyment. In: Blythe, M.A., Overbeeke, K., Monk, A.F., & Wright, P.C. (eds), Funology: From Usability to Enjoyment. Dordrecht, the Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
[4] Cockton, G. (2008) Putting value into e-valu-ation. In: Law, E.L.-C., Hvannberg, E., & Cockton, G. (eds), Maturing Usability – Quality in Software, Interaction and Value. Springer, pp. 287-317.
[5] Kujala, S. and Kauppinen, M. (2004) Identifying and Selecting Users for User-Centered Design. NordiCHI’04, ACM Press, pp. 297-303.
[6] Kujala, S. and Mäntylä, M. (2000) How effective are user studies? In: McDonald, S., Waern, Y. and Cockton, G. (Eds.). People and Computers XIV. Springer- Verlag, pp. 61-71.
[7] Kujala, S. and Väänänen-Vainio-Mattila, K. (2009) Value of information systems and products: Understanding the users’ perspective and values. Journal of Information Technology Theory and Application (JITTA), Vol. 9, No. 4, pp. 23-39.
[8] Law, E., Roto, V., Vermeeren, A.O., Kort, J. and Hassenzahl, M. (2008) Towards a shared definition of user experience. Proceeding of the 26th annual CHI conference extended abstracts on Human factors in computing systems (CHI’08), ACM Press, pp. 2395-2398.
[9] Van der Haar, J.W., Kemp, R.G.M., and Omta, O. (2001) Creating value that cannot be copied. Industrial Marketing Management, Vol. 30, pp. 627-636.
[10] Wright, P., McCarthy, J., and Meekison, L. (2003) Making sense of experience. In: Blythe, M.A., Overbeeke, K., Monk, A.F., & Wright, P.C. (eds), Funology: From Usability to Enjoyment. Dordrecht, the Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, pp. 43-53.