Student stories: Amar visits the SDN Global Conference 2016

Fourth-year CoID student Amar Nath Shaw visited the Service Design Global Conference in Amsterdam last fall and shares his experience and key insights with us. If you are looking for likewise experiences, this is a must-read.

  • What is the SDN Global Conference 2016?

The 9th Service Design Global Conference was held in the city of Amsterdam, 26-28th October.
It is one of the biggest annual conferences related to Service design, organized by the Service Design Network (SDN), which is an international platform for connecting with like-minded passionate service designers from companies, agencies and universities.

  • How did you get to go to this conference?

I attended the conference as a student volunteer. The organizing team select around 30 student volunteers to help during the event. The usual process starts around July/Aug by sending the CV and motivation letter mentioning the aim to join the event along with stressing on team work, full days/time availability and previous volunteering experience (if any).
The normal conference registration fee is relatively expensive. As a volunteer, one gets free entry as well as food/drinks during the event days. However, the travel & accommodation needs to be arranged by oneself. Even though travel (flight cost) and accommodation in Amsterdam were fairly expensive, after thinking for a while I decided to attend, since I had attended the same conference two years back in Stockholm and I felt it was worth going again. The reason being, it is one of the opportunity to know and experience the latest happenings in the ever-growing field of Service Design through inspiring talks/presentations/workshops, next to meetings and networking with people from industries/ academia and lastly making new friends.

  • What was especially interesting?

This year’s theme of the conference was Business as usual, and some of the speeches/ highlights were about
• Design Thinking and Service Design doing
• Service Design in private and public sector (Impact report)
• Impact and evolution of Service Design in the last 10 years
• What’s next in Service Design

One of the interesting trends noticed was how recently many companies have started to have an in-house Service Design team, rather than consulting to Service design Agencies. This not only helps them to offer a complete end-to-end solution package, but it also supports and organizes the service requirements internally.

Apart from that, there were several interesting projects/case studies presented by companies/ design consultancies showcasing not only the importance of Service Design but also customer experience, employee experience and organizational strategy as a whole.
One of the attention-grabbing tools exhibited was the Content Journey Map by Marley Spoon, which combines the traditional Customer Journey Map with contents at each stage.
Lastly, there was also the SDN award (including student categories) given for projects that co-relate between the work done and the results achieved.

  • Would you recommend other students to visit this type of conference?

From my experience, I would say it is definitely worth attending, especially if someone is interested in Service Design. The important thing would be to keep an eye on the application date (through SDN website/FB page) since they choose only 30 volunteer out of approximately 100 applications. I think it might also be possible to get some travel grants from school (if there is a strong reason, for example shortlisting of projects/awards). Otherwise, even traveling for a conference is a good value addition since I think it is important to go beyond (outside 8th Floor/ Arabia) and explore what’s happening around and make contacts as one never knows what new opportunities it could bring.