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A BISS-project powered by the Service Science Factory

Rapid changes in technology, customer needs and society forces large organizations to constantly adapt to a changing context in order to remain relevant. Organizations therefore need to shift their strategy from a reactive to a pro-active approach, or in other words, they need to anticipate the future to prepare for it. Developing extreme scenarios paints a picture of the future and poses the opportunity for organizations to prepare for upcoming challenges and to make use of new opportunities.

Combine the power of technology, services & user-centric design

The BISS-institute (Business Intelligence Smart Services), a collaboration of Hogeschool Zuyd, Open University and Maastricht University, is one of the key technology institutes in the South of the Netherlands, combining both practical and academic knowledge on technology topics such as Big-Data, Artificial Intelligence and Smart interfaces. The Service Science Factory, on the other hand, develops and practices user-centric, design-led approaches to service and business innovation. The result are innovative concepts that fit the demand and ambitions of the end-user and have a positive business impact. Combining both the technological, business and end-user perspective in these innovation projects creates a foundation that increases innovativeness, feasibility and impact.

Identify and map key trends

Defining extreme scenarios starts with mapping the current situation, identifying important general and industry trends, understanding why and how they have emerged and extrapolate predictions on how they could evolve over time. You can for instance map the progress of computing power, the impact of the internet or the development of the sharing economy and visually see how they could evolve.

Since trends do not work in isolation but often influence each other, it is important to map a holistic view on what is going on within the market and society as a whole. It is therefore important to map various types of trends such as technological, societal and field specific trends. Once visually mapped it becomes clear how these trends will influence each other and form an extreme scenario. This visual map is a helpful tool to make abstract concepts such as trends more concrete and to start discussions.

Define extreme scenarios

The trend overview shows how trends could influence each other and create a new situation that will pose future challenges and new opportunities for your organization. Key is also to take into account important regulations that are being developed and will go in effect in the future.

Creating a visual story board makes the extreme scenario come alive and more tangible. This gives innovation teams a case from where they can develop new strategies. It is important to determine the horizon you are focusing on, for instance: “How would the world look like in 10 years?”.

Ideate business opportunities

Extreme scenarios function as a source of inspiration that innovation teams can use, with the help of ideation techniques, to develop ideas to advance the current business model or create an entirely new business model that makes use of the opportunities that the future situation provides and takes into account future obstacles and challenges. Design tools such as the value proposition and business model canvas are used to map the value the concepts provide for your (future) customer and your organization in this future scenario.

Validation with various experts is needed to make sure that the concept is feasible and creates the value that customers, organisations and other stakeholders appreciate.

Prepare for the development phase

The wonderful thing of the future is that it is mouldable; today’s actions can influence the world of tomorrow. Organisations could change their strategy to averse risk or make use of identified opportunities. Highlighting the business implications and creating a possible roadmap is therefore an important deliverable of an extreme scenario project.

It is important to bundle this roadmap with a vivid, visually convincing business pitch which explains the possible opportunities and challenges that the organization might face. This awareness and sense of urgency is crucial for management to identify and survive extreme scenarios, because being too late can have disastrous consequences.

About the Authors

Damiën Luciën Nunes: Service Science Factory (part of Maastricht University)

Damien Nunes has an engineering and design background and developed himself further in the field of service and business innovation with a strong focus on user-centered innovation. As a project leader and service designer within the Service Science Factory (Valorisation unit within Maastricht University, the Netherlands) he has the expertise to facilitate service and business innovation projects and workshops that lead to a concrete outcome in a short amount of time.


Martine Hermans, BISS Institute (part of Maastricht University)

Martine Hermans has a business and strategic marketing background and is currently working as a project manager at the BISS-institute in Heerlen (the Netherlands). The BISS-institute carries out excellent, fundamental and applied research in the field of Business Intelligence and Smart Services. Martine’s responsibility includes managing multidisciplinary expert teams of scientist, business experts and students, guiding innovation processes and connecting science and business to jointly innovate on digitalization and smart services challenges.


Featured image from the author.