Businesses Must Look At Designers Beyond Subjective Creativity

Article

Businesses Must Look At Beyond Subjective Creativity

Words by Sandeep Ozarde

April 21, 2020

3 Minute Read

“Today is what’s thought about long ago. Now today we have to project, think, experiment, prototype the future.”

― Hartmut Esslinger, Industrial Designer & Founder, Frog Design Inc.

In the world it is not the big fish which eats the small fish, it’s the fast fish which eats the slow fish.

We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. 

—  Klaus Schwab, The World Economic Forum.

Design consultancies are likely to launch even more outcomes-focused services as clients demand faster and more tangible results for their consulting spend. As execution speed becomes a defining factor in who wins, clients will pay more for actual products and solutions.

I can see a billion-dollar opportunity if designers embrace system design, machine learning, artificial intelligence and data science.

There aren’t many precedents billionaires in the history of design, except fashion brands like Louis Vuitton, GUCCI, Dior, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, CHANEL.

Human experience is beyond advertising realm

The most businesses worldwide don’t need “traditional design expertise beyond advertising or marketing” on a daily business, serious design spending its a fraction of their overall expenditure. Not even Amazon, Google is taking “human experience” seriously until recently.

I doubt if the billionaire Jeff Bezos has ever considered hiring a decent brand design company to design its Amazon Blue Origin brand identity or even its bizarre looking rocket design.

Design can be transformational, but only when the creative vision and business strategy are seamlessly aligned, which not quite true in the case of Amazon, Google until recently. Jeff Bezos should look internally to better its user experience and capabilities of the brand while also understanding the broader, external context.

McKinsey, Morgan Stanley embrace design & creativity

In the recent times McKinsey, Morgan Stanley, Deloitte, PwC are early adopters and influencers of design and creativity than most of other businesses worldwide. I am amazed to read Morgan Stanley ideas inspired by Michelangelo at MET.
Businesses are harnessing the power of design to craft experiences that immerse customers in a bigger, emotionally centered idea, an idea reinforced at every stage of the customer journey.

Designers can change the world, not design

Distinctive design — clean and friendly and fun — would become the hallmark of Apple products under Steve Jobs. In an era not known for great industrial designers, Steve Jobs’ partnerships with Hartmut Esslinger in the 1980s and then with Jony Ive starting in 1997 created an engineering and design aesthetic that set Apple apart from other technology companies and ultimately helped make it the most valuable company in the world.

It takes a lot of hard work, Jobs said, “to make something simple, to truly understand the underlying challenges and come up with elegant solutions.” As the headline of Apple’s first marketing brochure proclaimed in 1977, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Hartmut Esslinger, designer and inventor

Taking inspiration from Neobanks, traditional banks can invest in building niche solutions on blue-collar workers and the underserved needs of thin-file MSMEs.

“Design is not about aesthetics and being cool. It is about the real life – improving real life.”

― Hartmut Esslinger, Industrial Designer & Founder, Frog Design Inc.

The consulting business worldwide is undergoing a major shift. I wonder why multi-billion dollar consultancy firms such as Deloitte, McKinsey, PwC, Google & others acquiring digital design consulting businesses? The reason I guess, it makes a complete business sense and designers therefore must understand the changing landscape of connected businesses worldwide.t

Its time to pause, reflect and think what is going on in the field of future of digital design and how designers can prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The possibilities of billions of people connected by mobile devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge, are unlimited.

The possibilities will be multiplied by emerging technology breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing.

Engineers, designers, and architects are combining computational design, additive manufacturing, materials engineering, and synthetic biology to pioneer a symbiosis between microorganisms, our bodies, the products we consume, and even the buildings we inhabit.

Neither technology nor the disruption that comes with it is an exogenous force over which humans have no control. All of us are responsible for guiding its evolution, in the decisions we make on a daily basis as citizens, consumers, and investors. We should thus grasp the opportunity and power we have to shape the Fourth Industrial Revolution and direct it toward a future that reflects our common objectives and values.

The definition of data science thus emphasizes: Statistical Inference, Data visualization, Experiment design, Domain knowledge, Communication.

Haptic holograms

New technologies are being developed to create holograms you can touch or at least mimic the sensation of touch, i.e. haptics. Depending on the technique used, be it ultrasonic waves or plasma projection, haptic holograms will open up an entirely new industry of digital products that we can use in the real world.

The major global consulting firms have been rapidly launching new digital consulting divisions. What started off as an infatuation with product design and more engaging web interfaces has become a full blown movement towards digitalization.

The great science is not fiction

The great science which sometimes leads to surprising accuracy: Jules Verne imagined a propeller-driven aircraft in the early 19th century, when balloons were the best that aviation had to offer. In the 1960s, Arthur C. Clarke envisioned the iPad, and Ray Bradbury the Mars landing. It may just be a matter of time until Samantha, the AI voice in Spike Jonze’s film Her, will be real, or until we bump into a version of “Ava”, the humanoid robot from Alex Garland’s “Ex Machina”.

Movement towards digital transformation

The great science which sometimes leads to surprising accuracy: Jules Verne imagined a propeller-driven aircraft in the early 19th century, when balloons were the best that aviation had to offer. In the 1960s, Arthur C. Clarke envisioned the iPad, and Ray Bradbury the Mars landing. It may just be a matter of time until Samantha, the AI voice in Spike Jonze’s film Her, will be real, or until we bump into a version of “Ava”, the humanoid robot from Alex Garland’s “Ex Machina”.

These acquisitions have given rise to new practices focused on digital transformation, interactive design, customer experience and product . I sincerely hope businesses, well funded startups learn from it.

Under digitalization these new services are being aimed at marketing, IT, finance and innovation leaders at corporate clients. It may look confusing to the business person to see McKinsey, PwC, KPMG entering these completely new creative disciplines. People around the world have been increasingly exposed to modern, ergonomic and visually creative design in the last two decades.

Everyday items which were once only valued for their functional performance are now built with more color choices, softer edges, curved screens and conveniently placed buttons and touch pads. One need only look at their kitchen utensils and appliances to see the shift in design.

The bar for design has been raised in every business and every product, whether physical or virtual.

Data science method & interaction designers IxD*

The companies are now sitting on more data about themselves, their customers and the markets in which they play. To make sense of these datasets requires the right software, but also a keen sense of what to measure and how to measure it.

ERPs and CRMs which were installed in the 1990s gave businesses the ability to collect and house data. Today’s digital apps, when connected and designed the right way, provide financial officers a way to gain quick insights.

*IxD covers industrial design, human factors and ergonomics, cognitive psychology, human-computer interaction, design research, architecture, user interface design.

Interaction design, often abbreviated as IxD, is “the practice of designing interactive digital products, environments, systems, and services.” Beyond the digital aspect, interaction design is also useful when creating physical non-digital products, exploring how a user might interact with it. Common topics of interaction design include design, human–computer interaction, and software development.

The last five years has given rise to digital apps and online systems which can connect to older software systems and provide a layer of visualization, analysis and querying. Applications that can quickly visualize data to find outliers, trends or patterns help business managers to identify problems or opportunities and make decisions.

Consulting firms are being hired to clean and combine datasets into dashboards and infographics that can provide real-time analyses to management teams.

People worldwide will adopt a mobile first behavior and turn to tablets or smart phones for their online activities. Mobile devices provide an interactive opportunity which moves with the consumer, in whatever geography or context they travel to, providing almost unlimited access to the consumer.

Designing the right experience both online and offline requires a data driven and sophisticated approach that few have mastered. Digital design consultants need to draw expertise from those who can analyze the data and provide the most appropriate experiences for consumers at just the right moment on their mobile device.

Cloud technology has allowed startups to compete head on with large blue chip companies for a fraction of the cost. Startups have built services without having to sink large amounts of capital into servers, data centers and software. Uber and AirBnB are prime examples of startups that use cloud technology to create services with very little physical infrastructure of their own. These companies focus their capital on the customer experience, the efficiency and speed of their services and creative marketing tactics which can target a customer with customized messages and offers.

Data Science is not just about data scientists, engineers alone, it’s about business acumen and passion, which I think designers can master.

Everyday items which were once only valued for their functional performance are now built with more color choices, softer edges, curved screens and conveniently placed buttons and touch pads. One need only look at their kitchen utensils and appliances to see the shift in design.

Digital design consulting era is still in its infancy

Under digitalization these new services are being aimed at marketing, IT, finance and innovation leaders at corporate clients.

As startups in the robotics, virtual reality, sensors and wearables sectors eat into legacy market share, larger corporations will look to consultancies who can provide both front and back office support to help transform processes and build new products.

The vast number of channels and content formats require variety of expertise and a unifying vision. Companies don’t have all of the necessary experience and technology in house.

Digital consultancies can bring the right mix of design, technology and brand expertise to build a holistic plan and then execute.

Creativity and Innovation are integral to Data Science and going forward in the world of AI, ML, IoT, those are the things that will give edge to the humans over the machines.

Data Science produces insights. Machine Learning produces predictions. Artificial Intelligence produces actions.

To the business person to see McKinsey, PwC, KPMG entering these completely new creative disciplines. People around the world have been increasingly exposed to modern, ergonomic and visually creative design in the last two decades.

Everyday items which were once only valued for their functional performance are now built with more color choices, softer edges, curved screens and conveniently placed buttons and touch pads. One need only look at their kitchen utensils and appliances to see the shift in design.

“Risk! Risk is our business. That’s what this Starship Enterprise is all about!”

The Star Trek universe was not only a world of wondrous technologies, it also was a world of high-minded idealism, absent of social classes and divisions of gender and race, a planetary federation governed by the rule of law. Infused with the enthusiasm of its era, the series embodied a deep belief in technology as an engine for societal progress.

The quest for progress involves significant risks, but the potential for advancement are more significant. As Captain James T. Kirk enthusiastically shouted out in the second Star Trek season: “Risk! Risk is our business. That’s what this starship is all about!

Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek, are amongst the best examples of how pop culture combined perceptions of technological progress with contemporary hopes and fears.

Data Science is the next billion-dollar opportunity for Designpreneurs, embrace it. It’s not just a hype.

Disclaimer: Ideas shared here are based on personal views and has no commercial value. Research Reference: World Economic Forum, McKinsey, Morgan Stanely, Star Trek, Frog Design, Leaf Design. Photos: Unsplash, Wiki, Google.

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