‘Prototyping’ in services

23 09 2010

Chris van der Hoven wrote:

When Amazon.com launches a service like Audible.com (books in audio format), is that an exercise in ‘prototyping’? In vehicle or aircraft manufacturing, a prototype is a scale version of the product. It allows the designers and a sample of the future customer population to ‘see’ what they might get and ‘test’ whether it will work (both commercially and technically).

Apple gets third parties to create ‘apps’ and allows them to find their own market through the Apple App Store and customer feedback (a great model). Google.com, Facebook.com and LinkedIn.com have their own versions of this co-development, using usage stats (i.e. the customer involvement is not always obvious).

Loyalty cards managed by DunnHumby for Tesco are another example, but in retail. You will never get a BOGOF promotion for dog food on the back of your till slip if your ‘loyalty’ info tells Tesco that you don’t have a dog (having never purchased dog food). But, you will get a 2 for 1 promotion for Pampas nappies if you have been buying baby products. In fact, they monitor the age range that you are buying for and target the next step in your buying needs. So, is this service ‘prototyping’, or just good use of market and customer intelligence?

For all of the service related examples, are the ‘prototypes’ radical or incremental. In other words, if service prototyping is just an extension of customer needs analysis, how do these companies differentiate?

We are looking for specific examples, so do let us know if you are doing this or can think of good examples… (no matter what it’s called).

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