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IBM is gearing up to become the world’s largest and most sophisticated design company

After Apple with its focus on the design of artifacts, the next posterchild of design will be IBM with its focus on design in business contexts.

“IBM’s aggressive and zealous design-minded approach can help promote a more nuanced definition of design’s purview. Just by the scale of its presence in 170 countries, IBM can re-contextualize roles and careers for the design profession around the world. Expanding design’s influence beyond finessing shapes, beautifying screen interfaces, and tidying up presentations, IBM’s trained employees can demonstrate how design thinking can improve and humanize solutions for the world’s most urgent matters, from detecting cancer and fighting the Zika virus to providing drone operators with real-time weather data.”

Anne Quito /anne-quito | @annequito ~ Quartz

Good design drives shareholder value: 2014 design value index results and commentary

2015 version coming soon, because ‘the results are in’.

“The 2014 Design Value Index shows us for a second year that corporations that put an emphasis on design as a strategic asset perform significantly better than those that do not. As corporate design capabilities mature, executives are able to direct this power towards their companies’ most challenging problems. This, in turn, allows design-driven companies to grow faster, and often with higher margins, due to the exceptional customer experiences they are uniquely positioned to create. Key trends identified through this work include the rise of user-experience (UX) design as a sub-discipline whose growth is expected to outpace all other design disciplines as the number of digital interfaces expand and the significant investment in internal design capabilities under way in many large U.S. companies today, as we see from DVI companies Intuit and IBM .”

(Jeneanne Rae a.k.a. @JeneanneMRae ~ Design Management Institute)

How legend Paul Rand pioneered the era of design-led business

It’s called IBM version 5.

“In a way, what Apple does today with design is what IBM was doing in ‘50s (…) It was about simplification and cohesiveness across all platforms of the brand—products, ads, stores. These are all ideas in the modern vein that came about with Rand’s work with IBM. It set a precedent.”

(Carey Dunne a.k.a. @careydunne ~ FastCo Design)

Design and the Corporation: A reply from Darrel Rhea

It’s just a new wave of what happened before. But now with less ‘crazy designers’.

“Design isn’t just working on aesthetics or functionality, they are making contributions to strategy, they are generating new value propositions. Having design be more prominent is allowing these organizations to leverage the insights they have been gathering on customers and consumers. They are becoming institutionally empathetic.”

(Grant McCracken a.k.a. @Grant27)

The case for design consulting

2015 will be an interesting year for the design and business marriage.

“It’s a great time for design. Never in its history has it been so valued as an economic force or so influential as culture. Traditional businesses of all types – from management consultants to retailers and banks – are adopting design thinking and either building or buying internal design competencies.”

(John Rousseau ~ Artefact Group)

Moving beyond the design

Some want to design, others want to make a difference. Through design or by changing the behaviour of people in organizations.

“How do you take user experience to the next level? Simple. Forget about the design! Stop tweaking those wireframes, editing those annotations, and pushing those pixels, because, if you don’t, you’ll never figure out how to move beyond the details and see the bigger picture. Five years ago, I couldn’t have imagined saying that my role included facilitating and storytelling. And if you’d asked me what my role was, I’d likely have said that the core of my work was creating wireframes and documentation. These days, the core of my role as a UX professional is much different. Today, my role is to be the design storyteller and the vision facilitator – not just the wireframe maker. And it’s my foundation in theatre that gives me the confidence that this move was the right one.”

(Traci Lepore a.k.a. @TraciUXD ~ UX matters)

The shift: UX designers as business consultants

Will they then become CX consultants?

“UX is a broad field and designers are increasingly playing a strategic role in many companies. Be that designer. Businesses are increasingly adopting user-centered approaches to create experiences, moving UX design to be one of the core activities driving the company strategy and operations. This is an incredibly valuable opportunity that we designers can take to step up and contribute to create the great experiences and services they envision, taking our vision, tools and understanding to a different level. But we need to learn the new skills to play at this table, a table that’s often speaking a different language with a lot of politics and different stakeholders. This talk will cover exactly these extra skills that are required to make this strategic jump: understanding the business needs, educating the client, understanding the hidden request, managing the various party involved in a project, defining the right process, understanding the internal impact and more.”

(Davide Casali a.k.a. @Folletto ~ Interaction14 videos)

IA and business strategy: An evolving relationship

All experience design fields will be part of the larger business ecosystem. Like it or not.

“Information architecture doesn’t drive business strategy, per se. It won’t tell you what sort of business you should be in, or if you should outsource part of your manufacturing, or if you should change to a matrix-based management structure. But increasingly, IA needs to be considered as an input to those decisions, because all of them require thinking through how the digital places where you do business have to change, structurally. The difference between success and failure — or if a new business approach is even possible – can depend on the shape, clarity, and resilience of those information environments.”

(Andrew Hinton a.k.a. @inkblurt ~ The Understanding Group)

The intersection of user experience, customer experience and corporate strategy: The holy grail for 21st century business?

In the end, it all depends on the execution. Like always.

“UX and CX advocates and practitioners would do well to have a few beers together and explore how they can work to the common purpose of increasing customer uptake, loyalty, and advocacy across the entire ecosystem of their business’ interaction with their target market. And, senior executives need to lead that collaboration, if not mandate it. Their competitive position in the marketplace and future profitability may be at stake.”

(Chris Allen ~ HFI Connect)

Mapping business value to UX

The economic transaction of design is not its core.

“(…) we’ll expand on our approach to mapping business value to User Experience and explain how we have put it to use. Our goal in sharing this information is to be as transparent as possible about our process and our intentions, so the greater UX community can pursue an important conversation that we’ve been eager to have. What is that conversation going to be about? It is a dialogue that centers around selling User Experience – which goes far beyond user-interface design – to all of our organizations. This is a dialogue in which we, as an industry, need to engage. Hopefully, hearing our story will inspire you to share your own story.”

(Lis Hubert a.k.a. @lishubert and Paul McAleer a.k.a. @paulmcaleer ~ UXmatters)

Design thinking is killing creativity

Is business killing creativity by nature?

“A fellow designer and I were discussing this in detail and jointly came to this disappointing conclusion. It was quite a significant conclusion and likely to be correct, as both of us were in positions to manage design processes and teams, and also shape and influence design centric business strategies. I do not think that this epiphany happened as a result of this discussion. This was something that has been cooking at the back of my mind since design thinking started gaining traction in the competitive corporate environment. My thoughts include design thinking’s impact, its fallout, and its side effects. This was really not an easy post to write, there were lots of information for me to manage and reorganize. As with any story, lets start from the beginning by looking at why design thinking was even needed in the first place?”

(Avi Bisram a.k.a. @avi_bisram)

Manipulation and design

That’s what you get when business takes on design.

“Manipulation is deceptive. Design should be supportive. Theoretically, the two are separated by intention. But increasingly, in practice, the two forces are converging. This may be inevitable, as fields of sales, marketing, and design collide. I hope not. I’m troubled by the collision, and how it manifests in digital products.”

(Jon Kolko a.k.a. @jkolko ~ UX Magazine)

The UX ownership war is over… and we have lost

Well, that sounds dramatic and calls for a major reboot of our community.

“I had a profound experience last week, which unfortunately pushed me over to the dark side regarding my perpetually optimistic perspective on how UX design professionals will eventually take a place of equal rank in the boardroom. (…) the future ownership of the UX agenda will become the provenance of people not trained as designers or HCI specialists but of people who have never actually practiced design. At least they will employ designers.”

(Daniel Rosenberg ~ ACM Interactions)

You’re doing customer experience innovation wrong

Walk the CX talk.

“Everyone talks about customer experience innovation, but no one knows quite what it is or how to attain it. In fact, when we ask customer experience professionals how they’re driving their innovation efforts, we find several misguided approaches that actually thwart differentiation and waste massive amounts of time and money in the process.”

(Kerry Bodine ~ HBR blog)

Design ROI: Measurable design

Design trying to gain legitimacy through business thinking.

“The Design ROI project was a research project conducted between September 2011 and September 2012 with the aim of developing a model and a set of metrics for measuring the return on investments in design. The project was funded by Aalto University, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (Tekes) and fifteen member agencies of the Finnish Design Business Association (FDBA).”

(Antti Pitkänen)

New frontiers: The UX professional as business consultant

Business, the new hunting ground for UX professionals.

“We talk a lot about cross-channel experiences and how to address these new challenges as designers, but what about using our design skills, our hard won knowledge and empathy for customers to help companies decide what products and services will help grow their business? While companies are coming round to the value of customer experience, they’re struggling to acquire the skills needed for creating and managing touch points as well as understanding and prioritizing needs. And when we’re talking multi-channel ecosystems, who’s better equipped to address this complexity than those who have the skill set to not only understand it, but to design it and guide how it’s built. From optimizing the cross-channel customer experience, to creating new product and service extensions, we’re heading into a prime moment for bringing our toolkit into the business arena. This talk is meant to be both a thought starter as well as a lively group discussion around how UX can begin to play a substantive role in a company’s digital strategy. Using examples from my own experiences and input from a variety of seasoned practitioners, we’ll examine the challenges and map the opportunities across our own journey as UX professionals who are starting to think about what’s next.”

(Cindy Chastain a.k.a. @cchastain ~ Interaction 13)

Bridging the CEO credibility gap

So, grow-up you UX community.

“Unfortunately, boardroom UX literacy does not develop by itself. It is the role of UX leaders to create an environment in which it can develop within their companies’ leadership teams and to provide meaningful data to which it can be applied. (…) I would suggest that the root cause leading to CEOs remaining underserved by the typical usability data available to them is a continued lack of business leadership focus and practice understanding among the UX community.”

(Daniel Rosenberg ~ Interactions March-April 2013)

Why service design is so valuable

Whatever it takes: usability, user experience, customer experience, or service design.

“To be able to build sustainable businesses, they need to create real value. That’s why service design is so great. Service design makes use of an analytic, methodical process, but combines this with a creative, exploring and customer focused approach. It combines left and right brain thinking. This makes sure your focus will remain on long term value creation, without neglecting short term results. And not only results for your own business, but for all stakeholders involved. And that’s tough. That requires a change in culture. A culture, where the customer is really king. Where innovation is viewed as a responsibility for the entire company. Where people get the chance to try stuff out, and where they don’t get hanged directly if it does not work. Where management includes creative people and functions like chief experience officer exist.”

(Robbert-Jan van Oeveren a.k.a. @RobbertJan ~ Buro Koos)