Innovation, Exceptional Experience and Sustainable Success Made Easy: The NI© Needs Innovation Model

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Is it magic or a jack of all trades? The Needs Innovation Model can best be understood as a combination of various established concepts, models and maps, aiming to provide a holistic and reliable way to achieve long-lasting success on the market.
The NI©Modell was created to help practitioners gather and assess a comprehensive set of customer needs, thereby determining the critical areas for improvement. In order to identify customer needs and opportunities for value improvement, NI analyzes the “Main task & the surrounding journey” that customers are trying to get done during a process when they use products, services or interact with a company.

The eight steps of the Needs Innovation Model are defined as follows:

1.) Specify the market and the problem
2.) Elicit all needs along the journey
3.) Quantify needs and ask for satisfaction, importance, KPIs and emotions
4.) Create the „Potential & Feeling Area“ and determine the needs with the highest impact and value
5.) Create, iterate, draft and design solutions
6.) Evaluate your new solutions through the previously defined KPIs
7.) Design experiences building up on the “Emotions/Satisfaction MAP”
8.) Market your products and services and achieve lasting success


We deployed this model to speech processing systems and redesigned the Philips DPM 8000. It is a high-end device for quality voice recording. Since competitors released new products, also Philips had to follow.

NI© „NEEDS INNOVATION MODEL“ used at Philips DPM 8000
1.) Specify the market and the problem

In a first interdisciplinary workshop we defined the market and the user group for the redesigned product. We wanted to
– Optimize the experience for the actual user
– Allow Philips the entry of a new market – analog voice-recording user
– Retrieval at the displacement market
– Create more than 3 innovations


2.) Elicit the needs along the journey
At the beginning we specified an initial user journey to define an unique user group for observation and in-depth interviews. We visited lawyers and doctors around Austria and were able to obtain a comprehensive list of various actual needs associated and clustered to the recorder journey.
With the user input we were thus able to optimize the journey and gained valuable customer insights. Recommended methods for this stage comprise in-depth interviews, observations, or daily diary entries. This step is one of the most crucial ones throughout the presented process.

3.) Quantify needs and ask for satisfaction, importance, user KPIs and emotions
After that we initiated a large-scale interview phase throughout a time span of three weeks. For the interviews we prepared a survey, which collected
– Satisfaction degree
– Importance
– KPIs
– Emotions
for all clustered needs. Each interview conducted in this step will last for about two hours and gathering the information on Satisfaction, Importance and Emotions for all needs is paramount to create the Potential & Feeling Area. The identified Users KPIs are employed to evaluate the optimization of the process at a later stage and are very important for the needs prioritization.
This is a great possibility to quantify and prove Usability & User Experience!

4.) Create the Potential & Feeling Area and determine the needs with the highest potential
The „Potential Feeling Map“ shows all needs with the potential for innovation. Put simply this means that a high importance and lower satisfaction rate indicates a huge potential. At this stage a third layer will be combined, comprising emotions, which will ultimately allow you to determine the innovation potential.
Please note that it may well be possible that some needs have a high satisfaction rare and score low in importance (right graphic area), which enables you to consider a possible reduction in functionality or service quality. In fact, here we are talking about reducing unnecessary innovation to create space and freeing means to create valuable innovations. The third dimension “emotion” will give us an extra key evaluation.


Potential Feeling Map
Thus, this model allows you to concentrate on those needs exhibiting a high acceptance level. In case of Philips DPM, one need for the analog user was „DATA SECURITY“. Users connect a tape with reliability and trust, knowing that their spoken words will be archived and will thence always be available, which is not possible through usage of a digital device. In addition, they know that the recording is happening through looking at the turning tape.
5.) Create, iterate, draft and design solutions for the needs with the highest potential
Now we started our creative process to define and visualize all defined needs. We tried to find new technical and User Interface solutions for these needs.


New features

Need analog user: data security, no changes
– Classic mode for clear and simple operation

Need: Less importance of info
– Simplified data visualization on the screen

Need: High quality recording
– Integrated motion sensor for automatic microphone selection

Need: Speed
– Docking station for quick battery charging and hands-free recording

Need doctors: Speed data security
– Integrated barcode scanner for optimization in the documentation
– And many more…
At the iterative development process we included Mock-UP testing, ergonomic testing and usability optimization testing.

6.) Evaluate your new solutions with the defined user KPIs
At the last Usability Testing we took the defined user KPIs and evaluated them. It was great to see what is possible. For the medical use in hospitals we optimized a process from the duration of two days to a few hours, might was a huge innovation in their working process.

7.) Design experiences building on the emotions/satisfaction map
While you are working at the main product, process or service, you can create much more experiences on the base of the „Potential Feeling Map“. Unspoken Needs or less important needs could be complied with fast and easy and you create additional surprisingly experiences along the whole customer journey. You create them also on a big basis of data. If you cluster and combine different target groups, you will get similar needs and will achieve a huge target group.
– Create an easier first use user manual
– First use wizard
– Optimized service delivery
– …

8.) Be successful
Within the first six months, they won a worldwide market share of more than ten percent.
In 2014 they expect a further increase by up to 20 percent worldwide.

Visualizations at the NI Model

– Target Market map
– Journey Map
– Potential & Feeling Area
– KPIs
– Experience Guide

– Innovation
– User Experience
– Customer Experience
– Usability
– youspi
– NI(c)M – Needs Innovation Modell