Master’s thesis: With Spime to Circular Service Design

Technology enables massive innovation opportunities in the manufacturing industry. The Internet of Things (IoT) is argued to bring the next Industrial Revolution upon us. Not only factory machines can now be connected to the Internet and communicate their status in real time but also every single end product leaving the production line can be equipped with connectivity through e.g. sensors or RFID tags. The information about the product, the environment it is in, and how it is being used by the consumer can now reach the manufacturer. This enables a whole new end-user information and knowledge pool that would always be available for the manufacturer to utilize in order to improve existing products, develop entirely new products and services, and to begin mass customizing their products and services – and ultimately, nurture customer experience and loyalty.

Digitalization and Servitization are known keywords when thinking about manufacturing in the times of the IoT. But connecting objects and extracting data out of them is only the beginning. With a Digital Twin one creates a virtual replication of a physical object. Much smarter and more efficient is the concept of spime, a term originally created by author and futurist Bruce Sterling in 2005. Global IoT Platform provider BaseN began technologically making spime a reality in 2013, and welcomed the first spime customers in 2017. A spime is the virtual master that stores and analyzes all information about its physical counterpart even before it is being manufactured. By that, the spime consists of all the essential logical software description and controls of its physical representation. All intellectual property belonging to the object, e.g. a manufactured good, is also stored in the spime.

BaseN realized that manufacturing customers could through spime transform their business models from offering products to offering intelligent, evolving services based on individual customer wants and needs. This means a big mind shift and a need for manufacturers to learn about the technology-driven opportunities. BaseN therefore decided to utilize Service Design in the process of developing new services together with new customers, initially in the manufacturing field but later on expanding to other areas. With Service Design, it is possible to educate, co-create value and to innovate quicker and better than before. Hence it is a natural addition to the sales process when new prospects are to be converted into customers.

BaseN’s prospects from the manufacturing industry will be able to run through a Service Design Process to a) learn that spiming their products with BaseN Platform enables them to offer new services, b) identify a concrete service idea, c) understand the value for all stakeholders, d) get the full service ready for launch upon entering a lasting business relationship with BaseN.

Through the eyes of a sock manufacturer, the full picture could look as follows: Through the Service Design process with BaseN, the idea for Sock-as-a-Service arises. All socks could be equipped with conducting threads and a tiny sensor or tag, so that information about every single’s sock stretch and wear could be collected and analyzed by BaseN Platform. A sock customer signs up for Sock-as-a-Service and based on the information about the sock’s performance which the spime is collecting, storing and analyzing, the service sends new and improved socks when the current ones in use show the first signs of breaking. Spime, enabled by BaseN Platform, hence makes it possible for the sock manufacturer to realize such a service idea as collecting and analyzing millions of individual socks-in-use is now possible. With spime, there is also a knowledge pool readily analyzed available about the manufacturer’s entire Sock-as-a-Service customer base - at all time. This is something the manufacturer can tap into any time in order to start a new Service Design process to develop new products or services based on those insights. Hence, there is an opportunity to make Service Design a constant, circular process through spime. The manufacturing industry should embrace these opportunities to innovate, become more customer-centric and more efficient.

Further information:

Corina Maiwald
MBA degree in Service Innovation and Design
+358 (0) 45 639 0034

Modified 5/30/2018 6:48 PM