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The Business Value of Design

With the advancement of technology which ushered in the discovery of Artificial Intelligence, it has been said that AI will take away many people’s jobs. It’s a fact; “According to McKinsey Global Institute report” some 375 million jobs worldwide will vanish by 2030 predicted job losses of up to 47% within 50 years. A report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says a startling 1.4 million jobs in the U.S. will be gone in just eight years. After digging through some Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) numbers, researchers at CreditLoan have concluded that some 48 billion hours of work a year in the U.S. will soon be done by robots instead of humans. That’s equivalent of 300,000 working lifetimes gone.”

Human has three state of awareness; Hindsight, Insight and Foresight. AI is created to play the role of hindsight and insight but lack in foresight. (Richard B. Joelson 2016) The final goal in promoting change is achieving the state of self-awareness; namely Foresight.

The biggest limitation of artificial intelligence is it’s only as smart as the data sets served. AI’s main limitation is that it learns from given data. There is no other way that knowledge can be integrated, unlike human learning. This means that any inaccuracies in the data will be reflected in the results (Peter Guy 2018).

Designers are forward thinkers we see ahead. That is why we are referred to as problem solvers; we are human-centered because we put the user at the center of problem solving “Empathy.” Our quest for improvement and development is compared to none. The bitter truth is that we have designers that are yet to understand their values in the society and in the business world. I am displeased whenever I see designers been used like machines. As a graphic designer, I have been in situations where some client does not see reasons, they should pay a particular amount for services been rendered. As designers we should not lament about this but take necessary actions in tackling it. Design itself is invaluable and the role of a designer is immeasurable, that is why AI cannot take away our jobs but will only add to our value.

I cannot imagine what our transportation systems will be like without road signs. Signals, Directional signs, Signage, Maps, all this are products of Visual Communication Design, and has helped in lot of ways, such as; helping in reducing a good percentage of the accidents. Signals and signs help to follow roads in remote areas where it is difficult to find help from a person. It is true that designers are purpose driven, but clients should be aware that we are in business to earn and as well make profit. Besides, designers will continue to be cheated in the market place until we know our design worth. I agree with Steve Vassallo (Steve Vassallo; Way to Design) when he said designers must embrace the entrepreneurial spirit and design better, to build a world where ordinary people feel like they have a chance, where all our fellow citizens are respected and would be tyrants resisted, where the undefended and helpless everywhere are given succor, and where the earth that holds us is safeguarded.

Beth Comstock, SVP GE & Co Chair (Design Management Institute Conference 2011) said; “What business needs now is design. What design needs now is making it about business”. Great design is simple, beautiful, and easy to use. It creates a sense of purpose and place. It responds to user needs, and it just works. Aside from these characteristics, how can we know whether a design is “good”? Moreover, how can a business know whether the investment of time and money into a design was worth it? The proof is in the numbers.

Businesses have slowly come around to recognize that design can be used as a differentiator to respond to changing trends and consumer behaviors. Time and time again, Fortune 500 names such as Apple, Microsoft, Disney, and IBM have demonstrated the intrinsic value of “design thinking” as a competitive advantage that impacts the bottom line and drives business growth. They have come to recognize that design innovation happens at the intersection of desirability for customers, viability at the business level, and feasibility for technology. Design thinking — a product design approach that has been slowly evolving since the 1950’s integrates all three.

Design typically has three definitions: design as an object, design as a service and design as a process. Working with Design Thinking you might come across design in all three of these aspects, but Design Thinking combines business and design mindsets into an overall human-centered approach to innovation, which helps develop concepts that are desirable, economically viable and technologically feasible (Mike Monteiro; Design is a job). It has become clear that using design in different ways and on a strategic level creates competitive advantage, boosts innovation capacity, adds value across the whole value chain and has a positive impact on the bottom line. Research from Danish Design Center and Danish Industry from 2016 shows that using Design Thinking creates greater customer and user-satisfaction leading to happier and more satisfied employees. It also creates innovation based on new knowledge, leading to new business models, and in the end a better bottom line. (Sarah Deloughery 2017; Understanding design thinking and how it can create value for you).

Many companies that “lead with design” are admired by their customers, extolled by the media, and coveted for the design talent they’ve managed to cultivate. Few of us, however, may be aware of how much tangible value is also created — and how design can demonstrably affect the assets of shareholders who put their money where the great design is.

This elusive link between design and shareholder value was first uncovered by the UK Design Council in its 2005 study of design-led firms. The Design Council research looked at 1,500 organizations throughout the UK and defined 250 of them as design-led companies, where the use of design had made a direct impact on such key measures as competitiveness, market share, sales, and employment. One important component of this effort was “a sustained track record in design and innovation awards” by these organizations. Other indicators of design leadership included senior-level or executive-level design management and broad design training across the organization. Design led companies such as Apple, Coca-Cola, IBM, Nike, Procter and Gamble and Whirpool have outperformed the S&P 500 over the past 10 years by an extraordinary 211% according to a 2015 assessment by the design management institute. Singaporean firms making design a key part of their business strategy increased 27% to 31%, translating to a business spend of $25billion from 2011–2015.

Results show that over the last 10 years design-led companies have maintained significant stock market advantage, outperforming the S&P by an extraordinary 211%.

2018 Mckinsey’s research found that shareholder return and revenue growth differences between the fourth, third, and second quartile McKinsey’s Design Index scorers were marginal. The market disproportionately rewarded top quartile companies whose design performance truly stood out from the competition.

Corporations have started adopting design thinking to re-invent the way they innovate. The focus of innovation has shifted from being engineering-driven to design-driven, from product-centric to customer-centric, and marketing-focused to user-experience focused. Although many indigenous organizations are yet to wake-up to this reality.

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