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IT Management Partner St.Gallen AG (ITMP) | Oberer Graben 6 | 9000 St.Gallen, Switzerland

© 2017 by ITMP

Innovation Sprints for

Customer Enablement

Challenge

The market leader in the production and processing of high performance materials is known for its outstanding quality and unique product properties. Within the mechanical engineering department, focusing on the provision of high-temperature furnaces, the company wants to provide additional service value to their customers. Hence, a 4 month Design Thinking project was conducted to investigate the market, customers and possibilities to expand the service/product portfolio. The project challenge specifically focused on how to establish a closer bond with (end)customers on- and offline. In general, manufacturing industries need to learn to appreciate the value of data and build a strategy of integrating customer and usage data into their processes.

Approach

ITMP worked closely together with a dedicated project team following the entire Design Thinking process. The project team of 6 people has been supported with one Senior Consultant along 4 months. In the first phase we coached the team to develop interview guidelines, and trained how to conduct interviews. This way they were fully enabled to apply the method themselves and gain insights quickly. We made great effort to fully understand the customers in various countries and travelled to Germany, Austria, US, China and Japan.

Interview Synthesis with Hot Reports

 

 

Aggregating 80 customer interviews from all countries, we discovered:

  • An increased need of customers to understand the company's competences in detail

  • Faster access to personal expertise has been voiced and

  • Streamlining of data in order to facilitate service and maintenance processes.

Opportunity Area - Maintenance


 

Downtime reduction also constituted a crucial area for analysis, as unexpected outage of equipment results in significant costs and demands fast and efficient help. Digital channels enable quick and reliable access to customers. We discovered, however, that the personal component remains vital and should be integrated in the offerings. On the basis of these opportunity areas we came up with 60 ideas and crafted 12 prototypes.

 

Outcome

The project team successfully presented their final 5 validated prototypes which aimed to establish direct value (company to end customer) through a range of “Value Apps”, as well as indirect value (company to end customer via intermediate) with a “Laboratory” concept.

Rapid Prototyping

The value apps, as their name indicates, are a group of applications helping the customer at the buying stage to configure the optimal product and establishes direct help in case of a problem. Within the “Laboratory” collaboration with intermediate parties is intensified to design innovative offerings for the market. A Dark Horse session enabled the project team to think beyond project constraints, iterate and thus it led to additional ideas (e.g. modularization of products, which enables the customer to conveniently order and build easy-to-maintain machines).

All prototypes aim to contribute to improving a critical customer journey experience and help to increase their efficiency in product development and stronger employ market-based decisions. The company currently implements the MVPs.

 

During the project the company was able to spread Design Thinking as innovation method within the company. We also did facilitate workshops for departments (e.g. IT) where employees could get in touch with Design Thinking as a method and also were familiarized with the project. This helped to increase acceptance among several management layers. Further, the project team benefited highly of the customer-centric approach which also was transferred into other daily tasks. The interviews, for example, established a close bond with customers resulting in beneficial side-effects (e.g. increase of trust and sales)