Sustainable business and winning digital services

How can you ensure that a digital service will translate to a profitable business? This is where good design comes in. Fortunately today it is quite rare to encounter the view that design work mostly only refers to esthetics. Design is a way of thinking: a problem-solving process that aims to give rise to innovations that are feasible, appealing and viable from a business point of view.

Winning digital services produce, above all, value – value for the user and for the customer’s business. A successful digital service always solves a problem, whether related to work, day-to-day life or leisure-time fun. For the user, it can bring joy, make life easier or bring efficiency to work. For example, an effective digital self-service requires knowledge of the operating environment, business and end customers – and a service that has been comprehensively designed and executed around them. This is how we ensure that the resulting overall service experience is seamless and easy even without guidance or continuous customer service.

When developing the service, it is also important to be able to look to the future – the world is constantly changing, and we must be able to respond to future challenges. The answer to all of these can be found with the help of design work.

Problem solving process - people-based and iterative

Core questions when building a new service are: what problem are we solving, whose problem is it and why is it a problem? Sometimes it happens that the real problem is buried deeper than we had originally realized. We must therefore look at the root causes before we can begin solving the problem. If we are to target development resources correctly, we must be sure that the solution is based on a verified problem. By verification we mean that it is based, for example, on workshops, analyses, questionnaires or discussions with users. Building solutions based on mere assumptions always carries the risk that our assumptions are wrong. When we can be certain that the basis for our conclusions is correct, it is then safe to build a sustainable and productive digital service on top of it.

At the heart of design-based thinking is an iterative and people-focused approach. Decisions related to the service are tested using prototypes, and lessons are learned from the test results, which are used to guide the development of the service forward. This helps ensure that we are continuously developing the service in the right direction and, in turn, that the end result will hit the mark. This operating model has proven successful in terms of developing the user interface, the digital service and the business. People commit to the end result when they have had the opportunity to genuinely influence its making, and everyone can easily stand behind it.

Enhanced productivity and profitability with the help of data

The work does not end with the first release, of course. Users expect more and more of digital services. What drew users a year ago is today the basic starting requirement. Compiling and using data throughout the lifetime of the service keeps us up to date and allows us to continuously develop the service. In practice, by collecting usage data from the existing service using analytics and enriching it by listening to the customer and the user, we can, with the help of design work, put it into, for example, the form of user interface designs. Studies also show that data-based decisions lead to better productivity and profitability. Data helps us steer the team’s resources in the right direction, and the end result is an ever-improving customer and employee experience.

A path to change by prompting insight and unleashing potential

The more complex a problem is, the more we need different perspectives and ideas to collide to help us find sustainable new solutions to meet the future needs of people and business. Digital service development is often about change. Nowadays, an designer’s role is to prompt insight and unleash potential more than before – to steer change in the right direction and bring people and the competence of different fields together. This is how sustainable business – and a winning digital service – are born.

Etteplan Hanna Remula

Hanna Remula

Head of Design, Cloud and Applications
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