Service Design
  October, 2017

How to build compelling product-service ecosystems?

Hari Nallan

In terms ease of creating digital innovation, Pharma & Life sciences industry would perhaps figure among the last few. The reason for this is the exposure of the industry to regulations, sensitivity of information and its perceived importance to life, among others. That said there is no reason why this industry will be safeguarded from disruptions by new entrants.

In the last 10 years we have witnessed major shifts in many industries which were otherwise sensitive to a few, if not all of the above factors. We are also aware that Healthcare Technology is already at its tipping point and going by the amount of investments being made in this space. Pharma & Life sciences will have to follow suit. If you look at most of the digital innovations in other industries, you would see an interesting concept emerging. This emerging concept could impact Pharma Life sciences industry as well. The concept I am referring to is, "Product-Service ecosystem".

What is Product-Service Ecosystem?

There was a time when making huge capital investments in building products at scale returned large scale consumption. In short, investing in assets provided returns. However, we are seeing a paradigm shift in the way new-age companies are organizing themselves... there are a few fundamental characteristics that define these new-age companies.

They have 'digital' in their DNA. So much so that, they do not see digital as an initiative. but understand it as an imperative; an essential building block of the business.

They built newer operational models; the kind of models that never existed before... and most of the models we see today challenge those regulatory hurdles that impede their adoption.

"We are in a world where innovations are happening at the drop of a hat and consumers have many more then they did a decade ago."

They have seamlessly integrated Product and Service, and built compelling "Product-Service ecosystems terms.”

Take for instance, Uber. At its core, Uber is a compelling application on one hand, while on the other it is a seamlessly integrated service. The ecosystem was imagined and built in a way, product and service are inseparable. Imagine Uber without its application or without its network of drivers and cars! Uber found its way around regulatory norms as well, that otherwise could have impeded innovation. Payments industry went through similar disruption... so much so, that regulations are now changing in light of large scale adoption from consumer’s end. We are seeing similar disruptions in the education industry, with the likes of newer online platforms connecting learners with educators through compelling application interfaces . Health & Fitness industry is going through the same, with connected devices getting its users across to nutritionists and fitness coaches through application interfaces. I do not see a reason why Pharma & Life sciences industries cannot develop similar concepts on a large scale and i think this should happen sooner that later.

How to Build Compelling Product- Service Ecosystems?

Needless to say, digital will be at the core of these ecosystems, but just going digital is not enough. We are in a world where innovations are happening at the drop of a hat and consumers have many more choices than they did a decade ago. Among others, these three principles could help us build those ecosystems.

Digital is not a one person, key initiative. It should be in the DNA of the organization. Start thinking, feeling and doing digital. It is easier said than done, but it looks like we don’t have a choice but to transform ourselves.

We need to work on newer propositions. Creating digital interfaces for older propositions will be like serving old wine in a new bottle: Un-exciting! At the core of what we are going to do, would be our spirit to question what we had been doing and do them differently. It calls for a paradigm shift in the organizational culture; enabling faster decision making, allowing experimentation, accepting failures early and effecting fundamental changes in the way people collaborate.

It is important now than ever to start building Product-Service ecosystems and in order to do this, we will have to seamlessly integrate digital interfaces with service delivery models. In the process, newer operational models will emerge, regulations will be worked around, new products will be launched and lessons will be learned.

The backdrop of all this is the evidence of consumer behavior rapidly changing due to increased awareness, regulatory authorities are beginning to accept new concepts, healthcare technology is maturing and competition that is faster and more aggressive is budding everywhere. It’s about time the Pharma & Life sciences Industry wakes up to Digital.

Hari Nallan

Hari Nallan

Founder and CEO of Think Design, a User Experience strategist, Designer, Speaker and Educator. Think Design is a Leading Design consultancy with offices in Denver, New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru; and collaborates with visionary organisations to identify, build and materialise innovative products and services.


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