Service Science Factory (SSF) conducts international consultancy projects to foster business development through services innovation. This article describes a successful project SSF conducted for Puratos, an innovative, Belgian multinational company in bakery, patisserie and chocolate ingredients.
Main ingredients of the SSF mix: talented students, academics and professionals working together to consult Puratos on business development by building on service innovation and design thinking.
The Service Science Factory (SSF) conducted an international project for Puratos, a global, B2B company in the food industry. The company serves more than 100,000 artisans worldwide, and had €1,3 billion revenue in 2014. The business challenge presented to SSF was to innovate the company’s services portfolio with the goal to create a sustainable competitive advantage and to grow the business of the artisans.
Tackling the challenge
“SSF has the power to inspire companies and deliver strategic, yet concrete advice on how companies can serve their customers better and achieve company growth,” says SSF project leader Sabine Janssen. “Key to our business development approach is that the solutions are inspired by and for the customers. The multi-disciplinary SSF project teams consisting of academics, business professionals and bright master-students make the magic happen.”
In order to tackle this business challenge, SSF structured the project in three phases. The framework provides you with some insights into the project’s approach and SSF’s methodology. Building on in-depth user understanding and the skills of the project manager and service designers in the team to facilitate innovation, effective results are created in a highly efficient pressure cooker format. These ingredients highlight some of the key values of the SSF success formula.
The SSF team, consisting of a project leader, UM staff, business experts, client’s employees and students from different faculties embarked on an exciting journey to uncover the main needs, challenges, ambitions and business support needed from the perspective of the artisans. The developed service innovations emerged from this understanding of the artisans, strengthened by fundamental research and business insights.
In the initial ‘Seek’ phase, the team immersed themselves in the life of the artisans to fully understand their ambitions, needs and challenges. Camping at the customer site, observing and doing in-depth customer interviews enabled the team to understand the dreams of the artisans, but also what kept them awake at night. These insights were crucial to identifying service innovations that are really value-adding to the artisans.
Next, the core competences of Puratos, coupled with identified opportunities regarding the current services portfolio, were mapped. This provided a solid basis for the ‘Shape’ (Ideation) phase. During the Shape phase, the innovative service concepts were optimised in cooperation with a panel of Puratos’ representatives. Building on advancements in digital technology represented the foundation to create new service innovations, and allowed the team to create customized experiences for the artisans. The services portfolio positions Puratos more as a solution provider, a true partner that helps the artisans to grow their business, underpinning the mission statement of Puratos.
In order for Puratos to measure the impact of their services portfolio, SSF developed a SMART dashboard that helps Puratos track the impact of its services portfolio in a user-focused way. Continuous monitoring supports continuous improvement.
“The project allowed me to develop my personal skills, and enabled me to translate my academic knowledge to real-life business challenges,” says Susan Stead, PhD candidate at SBE. “The work also inspired and challenged me to extend my personal problem-solving toolkit to think outside the box in my research projects and likewise develop managerial relevant solutions.”
SSF created a Servitization Strategy for Puratos to move the company from being product-oriented to a more holistic solution provider for the artisans. SSF’s knowledge on services innovation, coupled with key ingredients of customer centricity and a holistic approach, proved crucial to creating value-adding services that will enable Puratos to grow the business of its customers and add to the bottom line of Puratos business.
In conclusion, the SSF team developed a Servitization Strategy and a set of innovative services solutions, which unlock new revenue streams for Puratos, fortify the competitive positioning of Puratos and inspires business model innovation.
Puratos was impressed by the deliverables, the speed and the effectiveness of the user-focused, co-creative innovation approach. This innovation approach is the success formula of SSF and is grounded in service design thinking. Puratos was impressed by how well SSF understood their business and their customers.
Frederik Lievens, Group Channel Director Artisan and Distributors, Puratos: “The collaboration with the SSF allowed us to reveal real insights in the relevance and added value of our services. The project resulted in both rational and inspirational concepts that are implementable and will make our services approach more valuable and more differentiating in the future. Great and high-level collaboration.”
SSF strongly believes that a solid understanding of customer & company and effective usage ideation methods provide the foundation to create value-adding, innovative service concepts that help any business to differentiate, grow and increase profitability.
Founded in 2010, the Service Science Factory (SSF) has quickly established itself as a leading player in the area of service innovation in the Netherlands. As part of the School of Business and Economics at Maastricht University, the SSF has access to a wide portfolio of experts and knowledge partners. The SSF’s objective is to develop value-added services and facilitate their adoption and integration within organizations. In our approach we emphasize the transformative power of service innovation as a way to unlock new revenue streams and increase competitiveness. We have realized this potential in a wide range of organizations.