Testing and Optimizing Innovative Services

In business practice, services are frequently developed in a rather unsystematic way and new concepts are not sufficiently tested in the preparatory phase, which is bound to lead to the necessity of taking expensive improvement measures afterwards. Fraunhofer IAO and its partner organizations have recognized these deficits and now joined their know-how in a “laboratory” which is unique in the world. The ServLab offers solutions for many different problems in the field of services and permits an integral view of man, technology and organization.

The core of the lab is the 3D interactive stereo projection system creating a close-to-reality virtual space for the eyes of the audience on the press of a button. The large projection screen is used whenever specific aspects of the service environment should be arranged in a specific way (e.g. rooms, furniture, color design). If the focus is on the communication between customers and staff, on the other hand, the projection simply serves as a stage setting for the business theater. The stage is the space before the projection screen. The audience gathers around this area and can give feedback for improving the service concept.

A video camera is installed at the ceiling of the lab and can be used for recording the events happening in the room. Hand-held cameras are used in addition according to necessity. A sound system is available to produce music or sounds. Moreover, several odor columns are installed in the ServLab in order to be able to experiment with smells and thereby produce an even more realistic impression of the service environment.

The lab is also equipped with comprehensive software (e.g. idea management, process modeling) to support the service development process. The complete equipment can be controlled from a pad. The ServLab is regularly used by founders of new businesses as well as small and medium-scale enterprises for the development of their new services.