The role of users in design is changing from passive research subjects to
active co-designers and content creators. Users are the best experts of their
everyday life and that is why they have great potential as sources of
innovation. With user-driven innovation methods user ideas can be captured and
worked further with designers.
To increase users’ role in design and innovation they should be increasingly
involved in deciding what is needed and what kinds of services should be
designed for them and with them. In user-driven innovation users are
considered as a source of inspiration that can foster innovation. At the
early stages of development processes, at the “fuzzy front-end”, users can
participate in designing what should be designed. Users can also be involved
in developing further a service that has already been launched, thus
continuing the design in use. This requires that the product or service is
designed in such a way that it leaves room for user innovation, so called
VTT has developed two approaches to co-creation of products and services with
users: Online co-creation in Open Web Lab (Owela) and Real life co-creation in
Ihme Innovation Showroom. VTT has successfully applied both approaches in
several service development projects.
Online co-creation in Open Web Lab (Owela)
KUVA Owelasta (onko arkistoissa)
Online collaboration facilitates user participation in co-creation activities
regardless of time and place. Owela (http://owela.vtt.fi/) is an online space
designed by VTT for different co-creation activities with end users,
customers, developers and stakeholders. This innovative workspace provides
tools and methods for understanding users’ needs and experiences as well as
innovating and designing new products and services together. Built on the same
concepts of user participation as social media, this kind of collaboration
environment is easy to adopt by many people.
Owela innovation spaces have been used for co-creating online and mobile
services as well as "real-life" services, like housing, postal, tourism,
grocery store and communal services. A typical service co-creation project
consists of evaluation of future scenarios, writing stories and experiences
with current services, and developing ideas in interaction with other users
and researchers. In addition to discussion, chat sessions can be arranged for
real-time idea generation or feedback.
Real-life co-creation in Ihme
In the actual usage environments, it is easier for users to think about all
the issues related to usage situations. VTT’s Ihme Innovation showroom is a
co-creation and innovation space that can be set up in places where people can
easily visit, e.g. a shopping centre. People can see and try new technical
solutions and they are invited to ideate how new technical enablers could be
best utilized to build useful or fun services.
Ihme innovation showroom serves well in the co-creation of services with
tangible experiences. Each user can devote as much (or little) time to the
ideation as (s)he happens to have. Ihme innovation showroom facilitates direct
user-designer interaction in the actual usage context. This dialogue not only
foments ideas but also makes the designer understand the user’s world.