data wires on an electronic device

Case study: journey mapping in a global japanese electronics corporation

July 11, 2017

This case shares how a global Japanese electronics company used journey mapping to improve its business to business operations, specifically with external partners. Through a number of service design workshops internal staff gained awareness of the problem of poor service delivery and became part of the solution.

About the company

This electronics company is one of the leading interactive entertainment producers in the world, offering home entertainment with games, movies, television and music. The company operates in America, Europe and Asia.

Problem statement

A primary struggle for the company was delivering a unified experience to business partners. Often information was disjointed and fragmented. External partners were often confused and unable to collaborate and innovate effectively with the electronics company.

We have a lot of fragmentation and business unit silo mentality. When external companies want to collaborate with us it is very difficult for them to find their way, contact the right person or business unit, or understand how to get work done. Departments are unaware of the bigger picture and only conscious of their isolated role in a much larger value chain. Often things go into a dark hole.
John Tason, Agile Business Analyst / Product Owner

This fragmentation becomes more complicated as the organization is governed by three separate companies across America, Europe and Asia. Each regional company operates under different rules, procedures and complies with separate legal and regulatory frameworks. When a client wishes to work with them they may undertake the same process three times – each subject to different rules and procedures. In 2016 the company embarked on an initiative to address organizational challenges and deliver an improved experience to their business partners. The initiative focused on improving service rather than new tools and online products.

Journey mapping workshops

John Tason, became familiar with journey mapping through the “This is Service Design Doing” course and used the tool to address internal challenges. He began with a 3 hour internal service design workshop. John booked the largest meeting room available and invited staff from different departments. He assembled internal stakeholders and asked them to explore the current business partner experience from beginning to end. This meant colleagues from across the business, including interactive content producers, working together for the first time in one room. This allowed the group to perform initial research, share diverse perspectives and generate ideas and insights from viewpoints across the organization.

Subsequent workshops addressed simple questions such as: If you wanted to produce merchandising, whom would you contact? How would you get started? How would you acquire a legal contract? How do you submit digital assets and marketing material?

This demonstrated to participants in the workshop how confusing, muddled and complicated it is for external business partners to work with us.
John Tason

Workshop participants addressed basic questions by taking the perspective of different business partner personas. Creating journey maps helped to illustrate the confusing or disorienting experience for business partners.

This is a journey map created in Smaply that visualizes the experience of an online content creator.
Journey map created in the first workshop.
10 tips that helped a Smaply customer get 20 people in one room and start with service design.

One of the most important outcomes of the workshops was realizing that the business unit processes, that seemed to work so well in isolation, were delivering a shocking disjointed business partner experience.

This is embarrassing.
Senior manager

Across the workshops participants created fifteen or more personas of existing external business partners, including sector specific personas.

Link to basics of personas article: You will learn what personas are, why you need them, how to research, define and create them and some templates and a cheat sheet.
Check out our article about personas to learn more!

Journey maps were created for each persona on two meter long journey templates. Participants could draw on sticky notes and add them to the storyboard to illustrate activities, they could write text descriptions and use the emotional journey to plot the different emotional highs and lows along the way.

A persona created in Smaply visualizing a Marketing Director.

In later workshops, participants used investigative rehearsal method to pursue the problem. Workshop participants were given a role based on an earlier recorded persona and asked to enact the accompanying recorded journey.

It was interesting how people really got into their role and how involved everybody was. When they started debating and discussing the experience, problems caused by hand-offs and business units working in isolation became very obvious. This method helped us to dig deeper and deeper into the experiences of the generated personas.
John Tason
A group of people standing around a pen-and-paper journey template, discussing and creating the storyboard.
Creating the storyboard during the workshop.

Following the completion of all workshops, the journey maps and personas recreated in Smaply were exported and distributed to all workshop participants for inspection and feedback. In addition to the personas and journeys created during workshops John also mapped out interviews he conducted with external business partners.

Empty journey map template on the wall with sticky notes on it.
Templates were used for the workshop.

The interviews and subsequent resulting journey maps added valuable business partner insight. From the data gathered in workshops and interviews John was able to construct a proposed ‘ideal’ journey and emotional map in Smaply. From this more feedback was gathered leading to the creation of a service blueprint.

Journey map template on the wall with many colored sticky notes on it.
Working on the ideal journey.

Challenges and findings

The lack of familiarity with service design and associated tools within the organization resulted in some push back; senior management was reluctant to release resources and allocate people’s time to workshops. In some cases this meant releasing upwards of twenty people from a single department at one time. However, after the first workshop the benefits of journey mapping became clear and the speed at which results could be transferred digitally and distributed with Smaply helped decrease further resistance.Workshop participants became engaged and motivated and adopted service design techniques. Using service design methods, but not labelling them with “service design” proved to get people involved. Smaply helped them illustrate, improve and appreciate their enterprise and the service it delivered from an outside perspective. The service design workshops, insights generated and low-fidelity prototypes helped address the problem in a tangible and interdepartmental way.

In the beginning the organization’s employees were largely unaware of a world outside their functional silos. As the workshops progressed people became cognisant of their role in the problem, but also their role in the change process. I did not even mention the phrase service design to begin with.
John Tason


Instead of solving problems in isolation, people found solutions working together. The mindset has moved away from working in isolated processes to creating experiences and services that take into account the entire system. The results – reduced effort and delighted business partners.

It’s pretty good – more fluid and much easier. It’s much clearer than the current system. It’s the right direction.
Business partners

The service design approach to problem solving has, since the initial workshops, become an accepted methodology for addressing problems related to business partner experience and delivering a value proposition founded on service. The approach has also been noticed by other teams within the organization and the adoption of service design is likely to spread.

John has already travelled to California to explain and describe what has been taking place in Europe to his American colleagues. He hopes to be able to run the service design workshops there and in the future in Tokyo, too.

Fact box

Aim of the project: Improve business partner service experience across the organization’s B2B operations.

Project duration: Ongoing as the company has moved away from a project delivery approach to a product development technique based on continuous iteration and learning; the business partner service being their product.

Number of workshop participants: 20-30

Number of customer journeys created: 7

Number of personas created: 15

And now, what's next?

This project team has been using Smaply to understand and manage the experience of their business partners, using b2b journey maps and personas.

Smaply is available for free – go ahead and create your own b2b journey maps and personas!

Create your own b2b journey map with Smaply!