Product-service strategy

Case study

Van men need different
types of mobile services

  • Van men need different <br>types of mobile services
  • Van men need different <br>types of mobile services
  • Van men need different <br>types of mobile services
  • Van men need different <br>types of mobile services

In collaboration with technology and transportation clients, we initiated a project to look at mobile service opportunities around ‘van men’ – a group of mobile workers we felt had been overlooked. We also suspected that they were being ignored because addressing their needs properly might require collaborations between mobile device and van manufacturers, mobile operators, third party service providers and local governments.

We conducted eight in-context observations and interviews around London, talking to different types of drivers for small companies. It quickly became clear that most were mobile technology enthusiasts, but their usage was largely restricted to basic features. Even though they had burning needs around live traffic and parking information, van security and job information management, they found current solutions too rigid or complex. Instead they settled on manual work-arounds and mental juggling – their default was to pick up the phone and call someone.

We identified seven opportunity areas and focused on two: resource management and collaboration platforms. We then generated a vision concept for each, based on three interaction principles – fluid interaction, effortless input and minimal immersion – based on the van men’s preferences and use context. Both were based on voice services that went beyond voice recognition.

‘Working Notes’ used voice-based services to source and locate supplies, and stay on top of billing and expenses. ‘Banter Channel’, likened to a combination of CB radio and voice Twitter, allowed van men to plan and synchronise schedules, and share knowledge and resources in a natural manner. Each vision concept was communicated in a two-minute animation with voiceover. These were shared with collaborating clients, which in turn inspired follow-up projects.

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  • Consumer research
  • Experience vision

Project type

Vision concepts

To help managers make an early assessment of radically new opportunities, it is powerful to move beyond analysis to a shared aspiration for future products or services. Envisioning some key use cases, benefits and features enables much more productive discussion around the desirability, feasibility and viability of a potential offering.


We distill our insights and analysis into a manageable set of assumptions or hypotheses, which we use to stimulate ideas. We then develop the strongest ideas to high-level concepts, deliberately leaving out much of the detail around the actual customer experience – this needs to be designed later, so broad brush-strokes are more useful at this stage. Finally, we communicate the vision concepts to relevant managers in engaging and thought-provoking ways.