Last week I attended the opening of the Amsterdam Centre for Service Innovation (AMSI). ASMI is a joint effort between the Amsterdam Business School, University of Amsterdam and the VU University. They will provide a course on “the management of service innovations” for “managers and professionals with substantial experience”.
I didn’t realize how normal the term “service science” is in the academic world. Even Larry Hirst kept on reminding the crowd that IBM has opened service science centers. While the presentation by Larry Hirst was interesting from the point of view that he had hard facts how important service are for IBM. For the first time in history more then 50% of IBM’s annual revenue came out of services. Also an interesting remark by Larry was that the biggest challenge for service innovation isn’t the lack of tools or processes, it’s getting middle-management to play along.
Ian Miles had a typical academic presentation! He definitely scored points on content but lost some on style (a slideument with animated bulletpoints…). He was able to clearly explain service innovation by first dissecting both and them merging them back together. What he ended up with was this definition “doing things better and doing better things“.
Although IDEO was mentioned briefly (for 5 sec.) none of the speakers talked about the role of design in service innovation. So I couldn’t resist the temptation to fire that question away at the speakers. Mark de Jong, one of the AMSI professors replied that design will be an important area of attention in their course but lacked to tell how. Larry Hirst replied that designers are key in service innovation and that they should stop hiding and step forward more often.
The opening attracted a crowd that you would expect just by reading the description. The ratio suits vs. jeans was about 25:1. I think service designers need to be present in these kind of surroundings. Like Larry said, they need to step forward to the playing-field. Being at these events also keeps you connected with the rest of the world (the non-designers). We truly need those guys who eat the business side of services for breakfast!
I really think the opening of AMSI is a great step. It will help to drive the awareness for service innovation in the Netherlands. And at some point they will cross paths with service design as a very effective approach to realize this. I’ll be ready for the phonecall ;)