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Microsoft Technology Center and students work together to create a better service experience

Students from Laurea and Leuven UCLL produced new ideas for developing services at the Microsoft Technology Center as part of the Service Design study unit.

microsoft project laurea
MTC Brussels Envisioning Center

During the autumn, Laurea and Leuven UCLL Banaba continuing education students from Belgium were offered a unique opportunity to collaborate with the technology giant Microsoft as part of the Service Design study unit. The task was to develop solutions to inspire the customers of the Brussels based Microsoft Technology Center (MTC) to deploy digital tools. 

— We want to partner our customers at the start of their digital journey, says MTC  Chief Technology Officer Myriam Broeders and Coordinator Claudia Ianovici.

— Normally, at MTC, we host customers on our own premises, where we have the facilities to provide the customer with an inspiring experience using Microsoft services. However, because of the pandemic, we have had to develop new kinds of solutions. We asked students to explore how we could provide this experience to our customers in a virtual environment, and at the same time have them commit to using our services, continues Ms Broeders.

Innovative solutions through a multidisciplinary team

Students worked in multidisciplinary teams to develop solutions to the challenges facing MTC. The client was also brought in to play with ideas. Based on the feedback received, the ideas with the most development potential were selected for the teams to present to MTC.

Two of the students who took this study unit, Ilmari Salminen and Gabrielle Dutton, said that they were well received at Microsoft.

— I appreciate the trust shown us by MTC. They worked hard to ensure that we had all the material we needed, says Ilmari, who is studying business administration at Laurea.

— We were really able to make good use of service design in the practical project. We also learned a lot about teamwork and leadership skills. These will certainly be useful in working life, commented Gabrielle, who is studying at UCLL.

The themes that were highlighted in the presentations related to taking a virtual coffee break, engaging the customer in the service through gamification, various MTC product packages that can be taken home, measuring customer satisfaction, and the use of virtual reality glasses and various virtual meeting facilities.

Ms Broeders and Ms Ianovici were satisfied with the solutions produced by the students.

— The students understood our service needs well. The solutions were innovative, and we can use them to provide our customers with better experiences and stand out as a service provider. This was a learning experience for us too, they smiled.

International cooperation across time zones

Ilmari and Gabrielle said that despite the distance, there was a strong community spirit on the course:

— It was great to work in an international team. In addition to the principles of service design, we also learned a lot about each other’s culture, they said.

Senior Lecturers Kati Tawast and Päivi Williams also commented that despite the pandemic situation, the students managed to cooperate internationally in the joint development and concept planning of services.

— These students have built up expertise in digital tools, such as Miro, Teams and Zoom, which they have used to communicate across time zones, Ms Tawast explains.

Laurea's supervisors have been responsible for the teaching and running of the Banaba continuing education programme’s service design study unit for two consecutive years.  According to Ms Tawast, the joint Service Design study unit has opened the door to a completely new kind of cooperation between Laurea and Leuven UCLL:

— It will be good to keep working together. We have already bounced around new possible forms of cooperation with Christel Lammens and Tine Osaer, the Module Managers of UCLL in Leuven.

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