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Service design contributes to ensuring the quality and suitability of digital services

Principal University Lecturer Johanna Bragge invited her colleagues from the School of Science and School of Arts, Design and Architecture to deliver a guest lecture
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Johanna Viitanen (left), Johanna Bragge, Paula Valkonen and Kaisa Savolainen

The different schools of Aalto University also collaborate on guest lectures. Johanna Bragge from the School of Business, Department of Information and Service Management (ISM) invited Assistant Professor Johanna Viitanen from the Department of Computer Science, Postdoctoral Researcher Kaisa Savolainen from the Department of Design, and Doctoral Researcher Paula Valkonen from the Department of Computer Science to deliver a joint guest lecture on service design and user-centred design especially within the healthcare sector.

‘It was Antti Salovaara who initially introduced me to our guests, as he knew from his own guest lecturing experience of more than 10 years what kind of content would make an excellent addition to my Management Information Systems course,’ Johanna Bragge says. Antti has previously worked as a researcher both here at ISM and at the School of Science, and now, he is a Senior University Lecturer at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture.

‘Ever since 2016, I have invited several guest lecturers from the business world to speak to the students about service design. This time, however, I hoped to find the partners for this lecture from Aalto’s own teachers. The lecture will also feature a small practical exercise facilitated by service designers. I personally learned about these methods in our public sector hackathon course (featured at the end of the page), and I realised how well they work in the ideation and development of digital services,’ Johanna Bragge continues.

Three guests, three perspectives

In the theoretical part of the lecture, the guest lecturers gave their perspectives on user-centred service design formed by their different career backgrounds. They also discussed how the idea of customer-centric and empathetic design has come about. In the applied exercises that followed, the students had the opportunity to work together in groups to think about how student healthcare could be developed through designing digital health services.

Johanna Viitanen provided an academic approach to the topic of the lecture by presenting the main principles of user-centred design. ‘Design must be based on understanding the users, tasks, and operating environment. The users must be involved in the design and development from the start. The design team must feature multidisciplinary expertise and perspectives.’ Kaisa Savolainen then explained how the City of Helsinki utilises service design. ‘Helsinki aims at utilising design in a versatile manner. Design enables the involvement of residents in the development of the city in various ways as well as the implementation of experimental operating methods. Design is used in the development of both services and facilities and internal operating models. It is also an integral part of the City of Helsinki brand.’

With fifteen years of experience in the field, Paula Valkonen examined the topic from the business perspective of a consultant. ‘In the consulting sector, service design always takes into account the client's needs and willingness to invest. The latter means that the scope of the design project varies according to the client’s situation. Sometimes expertise in service design is integrated into the other teams of the company, and sometimes service designers work in independent teams,’ she says.

Johanna Bragge thanks her guest lecturers whose presentations really conveyed their enthusiasm for service design. ‘It felt particularly good because over 150 students had enrolled in my course this spring!’ Johanna also points out that her colleagues will be happy to deliver similar guest lectures on other suitable courses at Aalto, so please feel free to contact them on the subject.

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The course lectures could be attended either onsite at the Undergraduate Centre or online watching the recordings later.

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