Anno III - Numero 39
La storia insegna, ma non ha scolari.
Antonio Gramsci

giovedì 23 novembre 2017

How Design-Driven Innovation Will Surpass Technology in 2018

Design-driven innovation has become increasing recognised and supported by a growing number of countries, and by the European Commission, as a key enabler of international business success and as a vital source of competitive advantage

di Eva Nudea Horner

When we think about innovation, most of us think about technology. The web is littered with articles about radical innovation pushed by technology, i.e. blockchain, machine learning and AI. There is no arguing that these are all highly interesting developments which will have a lasting impression on the world.


But as a designer, looking ahead to next year, I want to share with you a more recent development in innovation management; the rise of design-driven innovation, where the focus is not to push new technology, but to push new meaning.

I find design-driven innovation intriguing because it’s based on the observation that the usefulness and desirability of a product or service is notdetermined by its technological sophistication, but rather by whether people experience it as a valuable addition to their lives.

The users’ needs are not only satisfied by form and function, but through experience (e.g. meaning).

Successful design-driven innovators have the potential to create and change markets, able to drive the market rather than simply adapt to it. This is because they are better at detecting, attracting and interacting with their customers. This can be seen most spectacularly when technological breakthroughs merge with design-driven innovation.

This is part 2 of ‘Competing on Customer Experience’. If you want to learn more about how the value proposition of design is changing, I recommend you read part 1 of this sequel.

What it means to be design-driven
How we like buzzwords! To be “design-driven” sounds pretty cool, but what does it actually mean?

Design-driven innovators create with the end-user in mind.

They have not only embraced customer-centricity, but have put designing for users who identify with a product, service or brand at the heart of what they do. They go beyond designing for form and function, and extend their potential by designing for meaning.

To illustrate what I mean by “designing for meaning”, let‘s go back in time to take a closer look at MP3 technology and Apple’s iPod. Back in 1997 MP3 players were seen as substitutes for a Walkman and CDs. It was Apple in 2001 that offered an entire system to discover, store, organize and listen to music in a seamless experience with the iPod, the iTunes application and iTunes Store. And in doing so, Apple changed the business model for selling music.

“Logic will take you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”

– Albert Einstein

Given that technology-push and design-driven innovation are closely linked, design is critical for innovators. Investigations into radical new technologies should go hand in hand with investigations into radical new meanings.

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