Co-creation: delivering on the promise of digital transformation
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Co-creation: delivering on the promise of digital transformation

Kenny MacIver — August 2020

Decision-makers everywhere want to accelerate the transformation of their organizations, whether to deliver compelling new value to stakeholders, disrupt markets or reinforce resilience. We look at a unique approach with its origins in Japan — FUJITSU Human Centric Experience Design — which combines co-creation with design expertise to help executives turn their digitally inspired strategic aims into reality.

Climate change, the rise of AI, diversity and inclusion challenges, the coronavirus crisis — executives across all industries are looking intensely at how to ensure their organizations thrive in societies experiencing waves of profound change and unexpected disruptive events.

In many cases, the opportunities to drive success presented by fast-maturing transformative technologies such as AI, big data, IoT and blockchain are overwhelming when not connected to a clear purpose. They may fuel streams of bright ideas from across the organization but often with no structured way — or creative thinking space — to turn those into reality. Indeed, according to consultancy McKinsey, 70% of all digital transformation initiatives either stall or fail to reach their goals.

What’s clear is that some approaches to delivering digital transformation are more effective than others. One that is producing standout results — and is much lauded by participants — has been pioneered by global tech company Fujitsu.

The FUJITSU Human Centric Experience Design (FUJITSU HXD) approach centers on purpose-driven, immersive co-creation sessions — journeys with customers and partners that combine the synaptic energy of design thinking techniques with a focus on delivering solutions to real-world problems in the context of digital.
Underpinnings of success 

As global head of the Fujitsu Co-creation Program, Joachim Box describes FUJITSU HXD as a strategic design approach as ambitious in its goals as it is innovative in its execution. “It was specifically developed to enable senior leaders to harness the power of digital to deliver benefits to people in business and society,” he says. “We create a unique space and experience where all parties are committed to making an impact, in a spirit of mutual collaboration, trust and intimacy.”

FUJITSU HXD is built on three pillars, he explains. “We take a customer’s business-critical issue — something really important to them, now. We bring their line of business decision-makers and those who ‘own this problem’ together with our best technologists and domain experts, for an intensive series of short and focused work sessions.

““Joachim Box”
Joachim Box, global head of Fujitsu’s Co-creation Program

Essentially, people who know the issues but who are coming at them from diverse backgrounds, experiences and points of view in a highly creative space — either physical or, more recently, virtual — helped by powerful digital tools that inspire teams to co-create at real pace. Together we work towards a clear purpose of achieving a business impact as quickly as possible, often harnessing the latest technologies but always taking a human-centered view to the application of those.”

The FUJITSU HXD approach did not emerge out of nowhere. It was created in 2011 by Fujitsu design experts in Japan and has been continuously refined ever since. Thousands of customer engagements across the globe, such as with Japanese architecture, engineering and construction company Takenaka Corp, have attested to its potency. Most recently, Takenaka has leveraged it as part of its collaboration with Mercedes-Benz Japan to design EQ House, a futuristic structure that explores the inter-relationship between people, smart homes and connected cars.

New style of collaboration

What might seem unfamiliar to many customers used to PowerPoint pitches of ‘solutions’ is that FUJITSU HXD is essentially not a selling set-up. For Box, that talks to the maturing of the relationships between vendors, their partners and customers.

“Over the past few years, there has been an evolution in how — and where — we engage with our customers and partners,” he says. Co-creation sessions could take place at one of Fujitsu’s purpose-built Digital Transformation Centers around the globe; they might be through an ‘on-the-road’ co-creation service at the customer’s offices, or at an inspiring off-site location.

Or, indeed, as adopted more recently, they might be a virtual grouping, where participants immerse themselves as an avatar in the collaborative experience. This can be even more effective than the physical setting, says Box.

“Virtual HXD”
The virtual FUJITSU HXD experience

“Participants adopt avatars designed to look very simple and similar to intentionally democratize the ideas process and encourage the widest possible engagement; to flatten  hierarchies and reduce issues such as gender bias.

The virtual environment enhances the ability to make sure everyone’s voice is heard and everyone is hands-on in the design of the solution. In all cases, though, we’ve tried to create a neutral environment which is as much about the people in it as the logo on their badge, and certainly not about demo-ing technology.

To generate both energy and intimacy, such sessions are held in small teams where participants are carefully selected to bring the diversity of expertise, perspectives and seniority required to drive transformational outcomes. The emphasis is on ensuring a range of relevant voices — both senior and not so senior. On the customer side, that might mean people who can view a problem from the perspective of those it impacts — be that customers, citizens or internal users.

From Fujitsu, it might involve a sector-specific CTO, a solutions architect and an expert in a technology of particular relevance to the challenge. Increasingly, participants are seeing the benefit of including experts from partner organizations and academia to bring additional insights.

“We use well-crafted tools and techniques to bring the best out of each individual and to be able to work at real pace. The unique environments feature digital collaboration tools, including 800 unique inspiration cards that Fujitsu has designed to accelerate the ideation process,” says Box.

The focus is always on purposeful outcomes — as teams who have been through the sessions will testify.

Aside from rail operator CFL (see below), examples include the UK Environment Agency (where co-creation spurred a multi-channel flood-warning system), the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage (which found a way of monitoring wild plants under threat of extinction) and charity Autistica (which resulted in a platform to help autistic people deal with sensory issues).

So why is FUJITSU HXD encouraging so many senior decision-makers to come to the table? “It’s a smart investment of time because they are working with experts on initiatives that are aligned with the big decisions they have on their horizon,” says Box.

CO-CREATION IN ACTION: How fujitsu hxd transformed the web customer experience at CFL


When the Luxembourg rail operator decided to overhaul its consumer and freight websites, it put human-centric design at the heart of the project — with demonstrable results for customer satisfaction and retention.




• Find out more about how FUJITSU HXD is accelerating digital transformation agendas

First published August 2020
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