Identifying and validating smart product opportunities with Ansell

Case

Ansell, a global provider of industrial and medical gloves and other personal protective equipment, partnered with VTT to explore the latest innovations in technology-enabled smart products. The challenge was to identify technologies that would be useful for users, but also viable, feasible, and sustainable.

Key results

  • VTT facilitated an online co-creation workshop with Ansell with the aim to identify potential technology-enabled smart solutions for users in different use contexts and segments
  • A total of 19 different applications were identified in 7 functional themes. Two potential directions were recommended for further technical investigation and R&D
  • Ansell used the project outcomes and generated insight as a means to support decision-making around upcoming research and development activities

Smart products are a form of product-service systems that combine value-adding features and services with physical products. For example, they can do so by utilizing different type of sensor technologies, identification and tracking tags, as well as data processing and connectivity capabilities. This type of smart technologies enables us to build meaningful connections between physical and digital worlds, serving the users and customers in new, innovative ways. 

Co-creative opportunity identification across multiple customer segments

The collaboration with VTT and Ansell kicked off with an intensive online workshop aiming to identify potential technology-enabled smart solutions for users in different use contexts and segments. Twenty experts from Ansell’s world-wide sales, marketing and R&D teams participated in the co-creative workshop. The workshop was conducted in 5 breakout teams, each focusing on different target verticals. 

Through identifying contextual user and business needs, key tasks and jobs-to-be-done, the teams explored possible technology-enabled smart product concepts. Each breakout team identified key systems and tools currently used in their respective contexts. The VTT team provided the participants inspiration and food for thought from a technology perspective, ideating technologies that could be utilized to create user and business value in new ways.

As a post-workshop activity, the VTT team of researchers and designers analyzed the concepts, providing suggestions on what kind of enablers could be utilized to realize the smart product solutions. Also, the technological readiness and key considerations on combining the technology in existing form-factors were assessed. As a result of the co-creation workshop, a total of 19 different applications were identified in 7 functional themes.

Validating workshop
A lot of good ideas were generated from the workshop. The structure and flow of the workshop really helped to facilitate some great ideas.
Erica Hansen, Global Product Portfolio Management, Ansell

Sprint-based validation of an identified smart product opportunity

Managing a forward-looking innovation portfolio is about continuous framing and validation of future opportunities and solutions – generating insights which are the key concepts to take forward towards the market. As a continuation of the collaboration, VTT supported Ansell to validate and refine a specific smart product concept. 

In this sprint-based project, the team of VTT researchers and designers, joining forces with Ansell experts, focused on validating the concept value and reception from the user and customer point of view. Later in the process, four alternative technologies and their fit to fulfil the user and business needs were investigated in more detail.

Based on validation of the user acceptance and technology readiness, the team was able to recommend two potential directions for further technical investigation and R&D. Ansell used the project outcomes and generated insight as a means to support decision-making around upcoming research and development activities.

Validating  refinement
We gleaned a lot of great information from end user feedback, what the ideal solution would look like, and the refinement of feasible concepts.
Erica Hansen, Global Product Portfolio Management
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Jane Vita

Jane Vita

Design Lead
Ralph Liedert

Ralph Liedert

Customer Account Lead
Niall Shakeshaft

Niall Shakeshaft

Vice President
Industries
Research expertise