If you don't know what your customers really want, you risk making products that the market will reject. The User-Driven Innovation (UDI) project field at Telekom Innovation Laboratories (T-Labs) analyzes customer wishes that have yet to be expressed and then develops innovative solutions and products together with potential users.
Many traditional market research instruments, such as focus groups and quantitative surveys based on classical questionnaires, are not suited for forecasting the market opportunities of innovative products and services, because they do not accurately gauge the realities of the customer's world. That is why UDI relies on a versatile, flexible, toolkit of intelligent, user-centric methods to support the T-Labs project fields – ideally in the earliest phases of innovation development.
The UDI approach and objectives
An interdisciplinary team of economists, psychologists, designers and social scientists explores, plans and applies new, custom-developed qualitative and quantitative research methods such as ethnographic field studies, user clinics, business modeling and agile user experience evaluation methods, to name just a few. The aim of this interdisciplinary work is to generate and evaluate innovative ideas that have market relevance, along with the customer-centric design and realization of concepts, the definition of business models and transfer of results to the key business areas of Deutsche Telekom AG. All of this requires information about the daily experiences of customers, along with the expertise available from project teams and the know-how of internal and external specialists. The UDI team conducts projects independently, serves as an interface between various interests within the Group and cooperates with external service providers.
UDI methods and value creation
UDI supports individual projects and T-Labs spin-offs with intelligent methods for user and innovation market research, helps the superordinate innovation fields focus and prioritize their activities and ensures that T-Labs develops technical innovations that are aimed at customer needs. When providing project-specific support, UDI relies on a toolkit comprised of individual methods that can be applied to five specific phases of a project:
- Foresight: identification of search fields and trends (example method: scenario analysis)
- Exploration & Ideation: search for customer insights and needs (example method: field research) as well as the development of new product and service ideas (example method: ideation workshop)
- Selection: identification and implementation of promising ideas (e.g., online bus studies)
- Concept & Modeling: user-driven development of ideas and concepts, plus creation of business models (example method: co-creation workshop)
- UX Testing: design and evaluation of concepts and prototypes (e.g., field test)
UDI relies on an innovation forum, which it has set up specifically to recruit customers and test subjects. It is an exclusive group of individuals from Berlin and Brandenburg who contribute their ideas and experiences to product development supported by UDI. Members discuss and assess concepts and products while they try them out. Their personal perceptions and appraisals directly affect the design of new products.