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27th January, 2016  

5 reasons why design is going to lead the business of the future

By Subhasish Karmarkar

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Design now is mainstream

In last one decade it was fascinating to see how UX design transitioned from something not necessary, to something good to have to “THE” thing that’s core part of the product experience. Everyone is now talking about design. From product companies, to healthcare to enterprise software design is the buzzword.

But life was not so beautiful for designers few years ago! So what has changed?

The fare share of the credit goes to Apple and Jobs-Ive duo who changed the way people perceives design today. They made design mainstream and mass market.

But it’s not Apple alone. Brands like IKEA, Tesla and NEST always had design at the heart of their business. Soon others followed. We noticed an explosion of physical and digital products with great experience.We slowly saw design being discussed with same passion in company board rooms and household kitchens. This democratization of design in today’s world lays a strong foundation for the future of design.

Enterprises are waking up :

Although design got an elevated status in the last decade, but the value was only understood by consumer companies. The context in which design was talked about, discussed or criticised was all around consumer products: iPhone, Nest, Mint, Uber, Airbnb and so on.

Starting 2010 we saw a change. To my surprise during few of my business trips in the US, in last 3–4 years I was discussing cross platform UX strategy with C level executives of Healthcare companies. None of these companies were bay area startups, but were Birmingham, Nashville, Chatanuga or Dallas based orthodox healthcare organizations. Everyone now wanted a mobile application, were concerned about user experience, asking questions about user efficiency & what not. This was almost unthinkable few years back. I sensed something was changing. These companies finally got a wakeup call from their own users! The inevitable was now knocking the door!

Global enterprises realized that it’s high time to act! They realized that consumer user experience is going to be the new bar for enterprise software. What followed was very interesting. We saw a series of design studio acquisitions by enterprises. 24 leading design firms were acquired in last 5 years

McKinsey bought Lunar, Deloitte devoured Doblin, Flow Interactive.Google bought Mike & Maaike and Gecko design.Square acquired 80/20. Accenture acquired Fjord, Facebook acquired Hot Studio. But the biggest surprise was Capital One acquiring Adaptive Path — the famous Bay Area design agency founded by Jesse James Garrett. IBM meanwhile was on it’s way to making history by building the largest design team in the world consisting of 1000 people, investing 100 M.

Big corporates now have realized that to stay in the game, lead the business of the future they have to make UX core part of their business strategy.

Increase in Consumer Expectation:

Over the last decade consumer expectations have grown leaps and bounds. With more and more great products hitting the physical and the virtual store today’s consumers are not willing to accept crappy design. What was considered cutting edge few days ago, is becoming old-school in no time. It’s really challenging for designers to constantly strive to create great product experience, that strikes emotional chord with the users.

The Big Design Beyond interfaces:

The trend is not just restricted to enterprise software or consumer products.

Design is also increasingly becoming critical in solving real life problems that are beyond the experience of a product or an application. I strongly believe that design is a way of living thinking, which can be applied to any situation to improve the quality of life.

In the pages of Wired, Melinda Gates mentioned human-centered design as the single biggest driver of social change in the last few decades. As we march towards 2020 we will see more and more of such social challenges getting resolved through an approach that is deep rooted in human-centered design.

Internet of things is about new experience:

Everyone is talking about IOT today! Gartner, Forbes, Mckinsey all are forecasting jaw dropping “Trillion” dollar market for IOT. 2020 will witness an explosion of connected possibilities, with more than 50 billion devices connected to each other.

To me IOT is all about experience. An experience that doesn’t exist today. An experience of multiple context and touch points, that can change the way we live tomorrow.

If you look at it most of the technology that is needed to make IOT possible (RFID, Beacon, NFC, touch sensors, motion sensors, pressure sensors, etc.) is available. Today and it’s cheap, very cheap. But Technology alone can’t define the experience. They can build it once the experience gap is identified and elegant solution is defined.

The true value of IOT will only be visible when it’s able to improve our lives through this connected experience. That’s where design will play extremely critical role.

There is no doubt that IOT is definitely going to challenge the designers. Designers, who are able to push the boundaries, have the ability to think of experience beyond an interface or a platform will be the designers of tomorrow. This indeed is a much bigger transition from print to web, or web to mobile.

So what is going to be the role of a designer in the IOT space?

Read about my take on this in my next blog post.

Till then cheers!

This blog was originally published at Medium on 25th Jan.

About Subhasish Karmarkar : Subhasish heads the Design Practice Products and Services at Imaginea Design Studio.

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