Can 6 tech students help a telecom giant innovate in 6 weeks? Telenor Norway wants to solve real problems for real people. As summer interns in Iterate – the lean startup consultancy in Norway – we’ve been hired to build, measure and learn how to unleash the power of future telco technology. Every week we blog about what we’ve learned.
Here’s week 4.
In Lean, you have to be versatile.
When iterate hired us for a summer internship, they didn’t do it to stick us in a dark room to code their todo-list. Our focus is to innovate, to do something different than what we are used to. We use the Lean methodology to help us with this process, and the goal is to figure out what the customer needs.
Team Phone hacking out new ideas for their recruitment campaign
All these things require hands on time with customers, which can be difficult when most of Norway is on vacation. However it is said that you learn best from working through difficulties, which is definitely the case when working in such a short time frame.
Pia and Aina pondering ideas over lunch
As explained in our post last week, we are used to looking for the solution we want for ourselves. In Lean the focus is shifted to looking at what the customer wants and needs, instead of going straight for what we think they should get. The Lean development process consists of figuring out which problems or issues our customers have. These problems then need to be validated through interviews and tests.
Visiting Telenor’s social media team. They’re always happy to answer your Facebook questions, and keep track of all feedback.
For Team Support, the task has been to figure out if and where webRTC can create value for the customer within customer service. As it happens, Telenor has a huge amount of customers. Because of our time frame we can’t focus on all of them, so we needed to define a target demographic (a scope).
Through tests and experiments on all of Telenor’s customer service branches and their customers, we decided on Telenoreksperten. Having found our scope, we could begin to dig down into specific segments.
With the new scope, Team Support needed inspiration.
The technology we’re looking at, webRTC, allows for browser to browser communication. Our first task was to see whether or not our customers had any problems that could be solved with this technology. You might notice that we’re working the opposite way of what Lean tells us to, looking from the solution to the problem. While this is not ideal for innovation, it sometimes is the reality of our business.
What better than sparkling wine to kickstart the brainstorming session after hours? Cheers!
Testing involves not only interviews and surveys (of which we had plenty), but also real experiments. The cheaper you can do an experiment, the more of them you can run. In our case we tried both a demo we had made ourselves, as well as a modified version of appear.in.
By the end of last week we were able to cooperate with Telenoreksperten, and could test our demo on real customers who called in for help. While our own demo had the base features, we ended up using the modified appear.in for the live experiments as this was the more refined product.
Pernille taking notes during the test of our demo. Exciting!
Using these results, we aim to narrow down exactly which parts of webRTC can be useful to which customers in which situation. More importantly, it allows us to estimate who would use our product, instead of keeping to their old solutions.
Friday was takeaway day, with fish&chips at the office
Team Phone is further along in the Lean process, having taken over a project from Iterate and Telenor. Their task starts somewhere after Team Support’s leaves off, and they have to make their demo ready for an upcoming pilot.
These past weeks have been focused on making sure the product is still what the customer needs, as well as increasing interest. Their work has included recruiting testers for the upcoming pilot, and the results look promising.
Kari made a landing page, to get the attention of interested customers.
Team Phone has also been able to look into other fields, such as graphic design and data analysis. This has included creating advertisements to recruit testers, designing a graphical profile, and making instruction videos for the pilot.
In a traditional lean methodology we want to do what we can for ourselves, thus avoiding having to rely on anyone else. Both teams have taken this to heart over the last few weeks, and work hard to avoid sitting around waiting.
Kjetil took matters into his own hands, and made sure customers had instructional videos
All this work points to the same goal, to make the best possible product for our customers. The challenge ahead will lie in finding the balance between our features, and deciding when our product is ready for launch. Lean helps us here as well, with the MVP or Minimum Viable Product. With this in hand we can build the smallest or least complicated version of our product that still satisfies our customers needs.
Nils refined the product features after valuable customer feedback
We’re getting closer to the end of our internship. There is still plenty of work to be done, and the teams feel the pressure to deliver. Lean has helped us thus far, so we trust it to help us reach our goal at the end. Team Phone will have to keep refining their product for pilot, while Team Support has to nail down exactly where and how to use new technology.
In two weeks time we will be presenting our work and our findings to Telenor, and we’re sure we’ll have something good to show them.
The Iterate Summer Students of 2015:
Nils Inge Rugsveen,
Kari Eline Strandjord,
Aina Elisabeth Thunestveit,
Blog by Pernille Wangsholm