Why is design suddenly so important for business?

By: Idea Theorem
22 August 2017
8 min read

The word design has got everyone’s attention these days, it’s not only a buzzword but some real dollars that companies are investing around the world. From tech companies to consulting companies everyone wants to talk about design. Some are looking to build in-house expertise with Chief Design Officer, while others are looking to acquire design-consulting firms. Interestingly, even strategy firms are looking to partner with design-consulting firms to serve their clients better. That leads us to an important question as to: Why is design suddenly so important for business? 

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Design has traditionally been known to add value as the last part of the process before launching a product to make it pretty 🙂 and then ship it. But winds are changing now, firms are looking to leverage design during the start of the product research process. To help us answer the fundamental question as to why the new product or service should even exist, and provide a clear definition of what problem it is solving. Once the problem definition is clear then we diverge to ideate for possible solutions. Using rapid prototyping as a way to validate the solutions and converging into an optimal solution. Design is adding value throughout the product launch process.

[qodef_blockquote text=”Design helps to answer the fundamental question as to why the new product or service should even exist? ” title_tag=”h5″ width=””]

When Elon Musk started his presentation about Tesla model 3 – it started with design. This just shows the importance of design in building the Tesla model 3. Three factors listed below that have helped design to be a major focus for the business in the recent years. 

Photo Credits: Tesla

Focus more on experience rather than a product

Leading companies are moving beyond products to create a superior connected customer experience. People usually confuse customer service with customer experience, Interaction Design Foundation does a great job of helping get a clear understanding of What is Customer Experience?  In today’s world, customer experience has become the differentiating factor while the features of a product have taken a backseat. If you can engage your customers and they are happy with the experience you are providing, they are less likely to switch to your competitors. According to a CEI Survey, 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience.

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Interestingly, from customer experience standpoint you are not only competing with your competitors but also with Amazon and Google. As Consumers, they are learning from these companies and are expecting similar kind of experience. This is where design comes into the play and designing customer experience with end user in mind, can make a big impact to the bottom line of an organization

[qodef_blockquote text=”From customer experience standpoint you are not only competing with your competitors but also with Amazon and Google” title_tag=”h5″ width=””]

Relevance changes almost day by day

The days of doing market research for months is gone, by the time the research is completed it may have become outdated. It is important to leverage the iterative nature of design process and focus on pushing the product out to market, to test with the users. This is a different approach, as previously the focus would be perfectionism before release, while now the focus is to push out the product early and learn from user testing. Pepsi Co leverages this concept and releases a new flavor of Pepsi every three months in Japan. Why Japan? Japan is a classic lead horse for rapid prototyping and testing due to the low cost of failure. As companies learn to adopt this mindset,  it will help them launch products early and become competitive in the marketplace.

[qodef_blockquote text=”If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late – Reid Hoffman” title_tag=”h5″ width=””]

The coming of the digital age

Digital capabilities are becoming key customer touch points for many companies. Design of these digital capabilities can have a direct impact on the success of the organization. On one hand, digital capabilities have made it challenging with several channels to engage the customer in order to remain competitive. On the other hand, it has given designers data about customers which they never had. Now as we move forward the focus is on personalizing customer experiences with the data that is readily available by using analytics. Forrester’s report on “Digital Transformation in the Age of the Customer” emphasize the fact that the organizations should continue to invest in digital capabilities in order to remain competitive and effectively serve customers in a global and digital economy.

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