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What does ‘Service Transformation’ mean to you?

Transformation through Service Design

What does ‘Service Transformation’ mean to you?

Transformation through Service Design


Cardiff, Wales was one of the greatest place to be in November when I joined my first SDN 2013 Service Design Global Conference.

What makes service design unique?

[…] too much attention to the needs of the users can lead to a lack of cohesion and added complexity in the design. —Don Norman

As an User Experience Architect, I often begin with failure; a failure to communicate strategy causing frontline workers to invent their own strategy not getting any closer to an experience that we first drew up front.

The biggest lie in software service development is ‘Phase 2'
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Great experience comes from great organizations.

If an user experience design is about an interface of the experience, service design is about the service and organization behind the experience which was a missing link for user experience designers like me to deliver appropriate, actionable, and tangible strategies to an organization.

Therefore this year’s theme of SDN 2013 Service Design Global Conference — Service Transformation—was right at the point. Here are my three takeaways:

  1. Serving is being human
  2. Execution through transformation
  3. Single experience to Networked experience

1. Serving is being human

Behind the scenes of Cirque du Soleil — Front stage and Back stage
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Service design is about bridging the front stage and back stage. Just like my favorite entertainment show Cirque du Soleil, front stage staffs work with back stage staffs to deliver service interactions using illuminations and costumes to deal with the challenges of keeping value proposition valid when customers recall and work with the communication across a service, while the service carries on with other operations. In other words, an interaction between customer and dedicated service equals to a communication between customer and back stage staffs.

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.—Charles Darwin

Communication connects all living things. What it means to communicate, or to serve, is being human. Being human is to serve people through journeys adapting to change by transforming yourself and them.


2. Execution through transformation

Just like Bruce Mau say,

Design is about making things exactly as you want them.—Bruce Mau

Otherwise, there is no point of spending enormous time and resources on visioning and planning. We need to show value through execution. Yet, what was spoken at #SDNC13 was still conceptual and intangible. Service Design don’t stop at visioning.

Ideas are worth nothing unless executed
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My argument here is that end objective is to engineer and manufacture the experience and service behind the scene, not simply to build and visualize ideal state of the service. This statement has brought me to realize Information Architecture thinking in Service Design context, to view designing for service as meta activity following Context, Content, and Users—3 pillars of Information Architecture.

I believe this idea will drive Service Transformation through integrated service management and I hope to hear more about this on next year’s Service Design Global Conference.


3. Single experience to Networked experience

Customers refer to several information resources among complex multiscreen world when making a decision, says Google. But when I work with many of my clients, their current challenges are to build integrated service experience throughout multi-channel diversity regardless of the fact that customers are transforming from single experience to networked experience. When designing a service, we must not forget the subject for creating a customer journey.

People collaborate and share their experience with others
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As we transform ourself, we must understand that well-defined service ecosystem has strong interactions among its components and customers. This Service Ecology Map introduced in Service Design book from Rosenfeld Media provides an overview of all actors involved in or affected by networked service scheme which would be great reference to start with.

Cross-channel to Cross-service; this is my current challenge to transform the mindset of the organization.


Working in Japan, is challenging. I’ve just recognized one-third of the company with over 100 years of history belongs to Japan. What I hear very often is that they’re eager to invent innovative products or services to compete worldwide.

Just that their organization in size is getting to big, following traditional corporate cultures are making them difficult to transform themselves.

To put it short…

Keeping on doing the same thing and expecting different results is one definition of insanity. —Albert Einstein

If you want to see the change, you must change first.

I am hoping these takeaways from Service Design Global Conference will be the trigger reflected for making change happen.

Yes we can!

What’s your idea for Service Transformation?
Drop me a line on twitter @mariosakata

Mario Kazumichi Sakata