Last week on Thursday (4/17), I woke early-ish to attend the Portland State University Business Breakfast series at the MAC in Portland, this was my first time but the topic was new trends in product and service design. The speakers included Sean McDowell/Nike Inc., Mark Scott/Starizon and Susan Stucky/IBM Almaden Research Center. I was very impressed and it was well-worth it.
I’ve never listened to someone from Nike, and not been interested or compelled by their innovation story – this time was no exception. Sean talked about Nike’s Olympic Footwear strategy, and explained how the company is providing footwear for 28 sports at this year’s competition, the first time they’ve designed for EVERY sports competition. In the past they’ve designed for up to 14 categories. He talked about 10k interviews which Nike conducts with athletes to design the shoes and the Flywire technology used in the shoes. A lot of what he spoke about made me think that their product development teams invest heavily in the A-typical human factors expertise. Fascinating and great presenter, I’d love to invite him to my company to talk about innovation design.
Its easy to talk about Nike. Mark Scott/Starizon spoke about how service innovation has moved from a basic commodity industry to transformational experiences. His examples were compelling and legitimate, however I found it hard to see how the services he talked about were scalable and how the well-known challenges of service innovation can be conquered. Still he shared impressive case studies about service innovation in Healthcare. Read about his work http://www.mcmc.net/
Susan Stucky/IBM spoke about service delivery at IBM. The topic of service from IBM’s perspective seemed too big and too complex for 15 mins of opening remarks. I’d have been interesting to hear her speak a lot more, knowing that 50% of IBM revenues stem from services (although pre-tax income from services is 35%). She spoke about value creation and efforts internally (using second life) to improve value creation. It was music to my ears to her that services innovation relies more heavily that ever on communication!
Next session at the end of May is about Measuring Sustainability: Developing and Implementing Social and Environmental Metrics for Business – should be very interesting and I imagine it will be pretty full.