Magnus Christensson – How lean and service design methods can create innovative, digital products

New services, services fit for the digital age, grow and develop as they are used - and change fast, argues Magnus Christensson of SocialSquare

The internet is changing everything. It’s changing behaviour – it’s creating an integrated system where we can create, consume and distribute in the same place. These changes do not respect brands or existing businesses. Video and DVD rental business have been destroyed by digital competitors. Kodak didn’t see that the camera was becoming the mobile phone and that the “photo” was becoming an online object. The future belongs to those who challenge.

Spotify, airbnb and kickstarter are making things much easier – and its not just about bits, about digital interfaces. It’s about trust, as airbnb is proving. The focus is switching from communication and branding to the product and service. It’s not enough enough to design blueprints and user-friendly touch points, if you don’t understand the challenges and the new value chain the internet brings.

Design and launch for sociality and co-creation over time. These service grow because we use them. It makes no sense to be the only person on Facebook or airbnb.

What is the social object you design around? How do you design for identity, presence, relationships, conversations? That’s Facebook’s challenge. Digital products are being built as they are used. We want to build stuff that is used. A lean start-up is an idea looking for a validated business model. Start with the minimal viable product, gather data and iterate – and look for customer value and a business model. Design isn’t looking for ideas, but for customers in this context.

One case: – Denmark’s biggest e-commerce site. They’re making great money on book sales right now – but what does the future of the book look like? Who are the future winners? How does the future leader behave? What is the next business they should go into? Socialsquare is helping them navigate this space with author and reader interviews, and understanding the whole value chain around books. The traditional value chain is changing. The book can skip publishers and go straight to the store. The relationship between writer and reader is much more direct. More content is being created – and in more formats. So, what market position should take? They created hypotheses and tested them. For example: that file conversion is hard from format to format. They tested it – and found that it was wrong. People didn’t see this as their problem. So they moved on to providing access and insight into market – and that hypothesis is proved. They found ways of connecting the various stakeholders with each other, through communities, and with insight and services.

They started to develop it like as a start-up – doing it fast, cheaply and efficiently. Start-ups are not small versions of large organisations – but large organisations can be inspired by the way small business operate using these tools. They hired entrepreneurs as well as developers. The whole ecosystem around what they were doing mattered:

B2C is now B2C + C2C + C2B… The co-creation of value is vital as you design services.