When we think of user-centric innovation, we often think of products, but if the skyrocketing success of Uber, Xero, Airbnb or Deliveroo has taught us anything, it’s that user-centric principles can be applied to the service industry too.
In fact, if you are in the service industry and innovation is not a part of your strategy, you are in danger of being disrupted.
But don’t take our word for it. There’s nothing quite like a case study to demonstrate a point. At G2 we love to discuss the exciting ways companies have re-invented themselves through user-centric innovation. There are countless contemporary examples, but these are our top three examples (well, for this week at least) of successful user-centric innovation:
Turning a product into a service - Rolls Royce Jet Engines
Jet engines are expensive to build and the number of actual aircraft manufacturers (e.g. Boeing and Airbus) is concentrated, which was making it hard for Rolls Royce to make a profit on engine sales. So, rather than focussing on only incremental improvements to their product, they began to think about their users’ real needs and identified that they weren’t as much concerned with the greatest engine as they were in guaranteed flying time.
This realisation turned their business model on its head. With their focus firmly fixed on providing a guaranteed flying service, they used the constantly evolving developments in technology and the analysis of Big Data to their advantage. Rolls digitised their operations, fitting their engines with sensors and started using analytics to ensure an even sleeker and more comprehensive after-sales service. These hundreds of sensors can monitor the operational health and performance of each engine, reporting back in real-time to the ‘Engine Health Management’ system. This allows problems to be diagnosed quickly and easily, reducing maintenance time and therefore potential down-time for an aircraft. This data also means any risks or issues can be predicted, monitored and addressed efficiently, improving safety and allowing any maintenance or repairs to be scheduled in advance, minimising disruption and maximising earning potential for customers.
Joining the digital revolution with an innovative re-think of their users actual needs meant turning the Company from near bankruptcy to once again positioning themselves as a leader in their field.
Turning the 'hidden' into hidden value – Intel Inside
In the 1990s consumers were not computer savvy. In fact, the average consumer didn’t know a megabyte from a motherboard.
Microprocessor manufacturer, Intel, researched their consumer and discovered that this lack of knowledge meant they purchased computers based on software, specs or a recommendation from a friend. With this insight in hand, Intel collaborated with Dell and HP to launch their ‘Intel Inside’ campaign, consisting of a sticker on every computer stating it had an Intel microprocessor inside. This small sticker, strategically placed for the consumer to see every time they turned on their computer, assured the computer illiterate that it contained the best technology and marketed Intel as the industry leader.
The campaign generated billions of dollars in added sales, changing the nature of the Company, its’ product and its importance. Consumers still didn’t know (or want to know) a megabyte from a motherboard but they knew they wanted Intel inside and the Intel sticker to prove it.
Turning the Dull into the Desirable – Compare the Market
Comparing the fine print of insurance premiums makes the thought of watching paint dry appealing. ComparetheMarket.com therefore knew they had a desirable user-centric service as an insurance premium comparison company, their challenge was how to make it appealing to the general public.
They understood that the age demographic of their target market would typically be parents, and that parents are very often influenced by their children. So, by using the ‘pester power’ principle, their cheeky, cravat-wearing Meerkat with a thick Eastern European accent, turned a potentially dull ‘adult’ product into a ‘family’ product.
Compare the Market understood their user and found their sweet spot. They appealed to their consumer's inner child and by doing so brought their content to life. They drew their customer in with the lure of fun, humour and soft toys, and showed them a world where insurance is no longer dreary but somewhat desirable. By doing so, they completely disrupted insurance marketing, from one primarily centred around appealing to people’s fears, to one based on appealing to people's sense of fun.
What we learn from Rolls Royce, Intel and Compare the Market is that user-centric innovation can manifest itself across every facet of your business. Revitalising your business model, streamlining processes, developing user-centric products and services, taking new approaches to your supply chain and impactful design all neatly packaged in a clever marketing campaign. When you put your user at the centre, anything is possible.
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