Beyond Sticky-note Service Design
Service design projects rarely explicate the technologies that underpin them. At the same time, numerous (000s)of services get delivered with little design and a lot of development focus. Is this an omission? Or maybe intentional stance against technological positivism, that prevails in the current period? In either case, maybe its time to rebalance the people vs. technology equation. For one things using well-known, proprietary tools and platforms can rapidly accelerate service implementation. Indeed, whether the tech that delivers the service is left undefined in a service blueprint or whether enablers are defined, the fact is building from scratch is not just costly and inefficient but also goes against every tenet of contemporary service product including reuse and refactoring.
The decision to use an existing technology in service production is often a pragmatic one, where the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. It’s conceivable that this might affect the service experience, although this might be offset by reduced costs and accelerated delivery times. In some cases, rather than deprecating quality the opposite can happen: the quality of the platform contributed to high levels of usability and user satisfaction. Adapting an existing platform (rather than building a custom solution) can mean rapid deployment, reduced costs and good levels of quality including service flow compared to waiting, paying and hoping for a potentially better bespoke solutions. Less directly oriented benefits include the assured and high levels of security, data integrity and support that you get with custom.
The ‘reuse, refactor, reclaim’ approach is inherently lean and frugal but somewhat contrary to the prevailing ‘Blue-sky’ thinking in service design. There are good reasons service design has privileged human agency over technology in the past. However, with ubiquitous computing’s quality and modularisation, this position is at best misdirected and at worst a break on progress. Harnessing machine agency for good should be the goal of any service design project as much as refining the nuances of existing human needs for a new service. Part of that rebalance is shifting the focus of quality toward the sustainability of any given service. That means framing outputs and continuous refinements of a living service with a focus on unlocking service flow, load and experience. Triangulating quality in this way not only focuses on throughput and thus costs, but also resourcing and of course the all important human factor of service satisfaction.
©John Knight, 2018