VIEWPOINT: Re-Imagining Service Through Innovation & Design

| By: Stuart Smith, Chief, Digital Innovation & Design Practice, NUS-ISS

Innovation and design are emerging as key approaches among service organisations in Singapore who need to adapt to a rapidly changing landscape. Our Service Innovation Chief, Stuart Smith, shares his insights.


In Singapore, the service industry makes up 80% of the economy. This encompasses a vast and diverse range of organisations from government agencies through to digital start-ups. Despite this diversity, organisations often face similar challenges when trying to innovate or improve their service.

Service Challenges in Singapore
While the Singapore economy continues to prosper, it is going through what the government terms as a transition. The transition to a higher productivity model with less reliance on foreign labour requires organisations to adopt innovative approaches to service delivery. 

Embracing service innovation and design as part of a strategy has therefore become a new axiom for organisations in Singapore. This allows them to re-imagine and re-design services using technology, new delivery methods and partnerships.

Supporting the Transition
As a strategy for competitive advantage, service innovation can go beyond basic productivity improvements encouraging organisations to re-imagine how services can be delivered. 

As a competency, innovation and design can be taught and acquired and it’s not only for dedicated innovation or design teams. Many organisations are recognising that all parts of the organisation have a role to play in delivering innovation.

Since our programme started, ISS has taught groups or individuals from every sector in Singapore and from every part of the organisation. From front line staff to managers to CEOs.

ISS - Your Partner In Service Innovation
For companies who are contemplating or embarking on service innovation, our advice would be: Commit for the long term, and find a good partner to help you develop the right skills and capabilities.

ISS has innovation at the heart of its mission statement, and whilst most known for our IT training & research, we have long recognised that technology is only one part of the equation.

In fact, service innovation as a professional practice has been offered at ISS since 2010 and we have co-created our practice through many different organisational partnerships and engagements.

ISS is the only partner on WDA’s enhanced Service Excellence Competency Framework to offer technology-enabled service innovation. Our expertise in implementing digital technologies, combined with our experience in innovation processes, gives organisations looking to address their service challenges a unique value proposition.

We have recently expanded our suite of service innovation programmes to open up learning opportunities for front-liners, middle managers and supervisors, as well as the C-suite and senior management professionals from any industry interested to learn about innovation, design and the application of technology.

For more information on Service Innovation courses at NUS-ISS, please click here

This article is first published in NUS-ISS quarterly e-newsletter, Issue 5 (Jan-Mar 2014).