PSS Business game at Tokyo Metropolitan University

“So, do you want to start the game as product provider or service provider”?

This is the question we have been asked in the PSS workshop hosted by Tokyo Metropolitan University led by Professor Yoshiki Shimomura the 6th of November 2012 in Tokyo, Japan. The workshop participants have been Universities active in development and design of Product-Service Systems (PSS).

Yes, I was there too! ;-)

The participants were from Blekinge Institute of Technology (BTH- Product Development Research Lab http://www.bth.se/bloggar/maskinteknik/ ), Luleå University of Technology (LTU), Technische Universität Berlin (TU), Danmarks Tekniske Universitet (DTU), Tokyo Metropolitan University (TMU), Cranfield University, Technische Universität Darmstadt Linköping University and Grenoble Institute of Technology.

During the workshop the participants had the opportunity to experiment a “PSS Business Game” developed by TMU after years of Research and tests with manufacturing companies in Japan.

The PSS business design game.

The game is a table game where the players are asked to assume the role of either a product provider or a service provider (training, monitoring etcetera). The purpose of the game is naturally to end up with as much money as possible. The game resembles very well what happens in real business (the product provider has costs in order to manufacture and launch the product on the market and more to launch new products, for instance) as well as environmental considerations (there is a “landfill” where the provider can store up to 10 products at the end of life, and after that she has to pay a tax). Every 15 minutes the “game masters” change the rules of the game picking up a card from the “events deck”. These events change the situation of the game (the entering in the market of a foreign company, for example, that overtakes some services provided by some players).

The game is intended to give insights on how the business strategy (“the game”) changes moving towards being a PSS provider (so developing both products and services at the same time) or forming an alliance between product and service providers. Shifting to PSS provider requires costs of development (as in reality) but in the long run they pay off, considering the more stable business environment in which the PSS (or P-S alliance) will benefit as well as for the environment (it opens the possibility of reusing the products).
The game has been very enjoyable and it gave us many new insights. Additionally, the positive feedbacks given by some Japanese industry participants have let us understand how the game actually helped the Japanese manufacturing industry to get a new perspective on how the Product-Service System company can allow a winning business strategy as well as potentially to make a leap towards a more sustainable society.

Another example of the great ability of our research colleagues in Tokyo to provide useful and easy to use tools in order to aid the design and development of new solutions in manufacturing companies.

IPS 2 Conference in Tokyo

On the 10th November I had the opportunity to present my last paper “Intangibles in design of PSS Value proposition” that I have written together with Åsa Ericson (Associate Professor at Luleå Institute of Technology) and Professor Tobias Larsson (from Blekinge Institute of Technology).
The paper has presented current opportunities and challenges when a car manufacturer company decides to shift from producing physical artifacts (in this case, cars) to a total offer (such as a car sharing, when the company is responsible for refilling the fuel, maintenance etcetera) from an intangible value perspective.

Usually cars for car sharing are intended to satisfy one main function (basically, moving the customer from A to B) as cheap as possible. The sphere of intangible values (such as emotions, experience) does not seem to be taken to much into consideration.

Intangible values: traditional car seat vs. massaging seat

What happens if we set a massaging seat in the car for car sharing? If we considered the value that the customer gets as benefits/costs we can see that in today’s cars the value perceived for the customer is higher (the massaging seat gets a 10 in benefits, from 1 to 10, but the regular car costs less so the customer trades offs the lower benefits of the regular seat with the lower costs of it. Yet, if we look at a the car for car sharing, the massaging seat can provide higher customer value, since the cost of the seat is shared between other customer. So, “paradoxically” (since car for car sharing are considered merely to satisfy main functions related to transportation) have instead the possibility to deliver higher intangible values to the customer, even embedding highly luxury features!

The paper has concluded that new methods and tools are needed to designers in order to understand, design and assess products and services from an intangible perspective. We are currently developing a framework at BTH and LTU, which is going to be further improved with the industrial partners (within the automotive industry) in the next months.

Here is the file of the presentation:

IntangiblesInDesignOfPSSValuePropositions-BTH-CIRP-IPS2-Massimo Panarotto