In his presentation he shares his views on what he think the next cycle will be about in tech. While we all are talking about a new technology layer, like AR or voice, the next cycle might be more of a framework for a matured industry.
Software is eating the world. We have arrived at a time where all companies have become tech companies. Do you see a company as a taxi company, a workspace rental company, a mattress company or as a tech company? And does it matter?
Tech is moving into the fabrics of daily live and with this the impact and responsibilities are growing. Keep in mind that in the West only 15% of retail is digitised.
Moving to a more systematic model is great for design, we have seen fields like Service Design, Design Strategy, Design Thinking growing up over the years to facilitate the need for systematic thinking and design.
When we create something, we have to think about 2nd and 3rd order effects of the things we do and design for it. Technology is moving from the edges to the center. With this complexity and responsiblity scales.
The technology and design that get or got your company started will not make sure it stays around.
I strongly believe that the biggest challenges and opportunities for designers are going to be on a system level.
Systems grow in complexity; every touch point is connected all the time
Behaviour personalisation increases; what you see is not what I see or what we see
This results in less control; it’s hard to design a blue print for something with a lot of dynamic parts, so design (as a field) also has to move the boundaries of design, where you aim for guidelines, intended behaviour, principles.
In this edition some examples of why we?—?as a design field?—?need to think bigger.
A car controlled by a computer it’s still limited by the sensors and rules and data we’ve put in.
People have always been great manipulators of systems. This video shows how easy it is to manipulate a system when you start talking to a system in its language.
We relying more on camera’s for a lot of services, this is a new domain for design, right now mostly driven by technological capabilities.
A lot of platforms are having issues with filtering content. Because of the network effects and gaming a system a lot of ? gets the attention it doesn’t deserve. This as much a technical problem as it is a design problem. I don’t think there will be a simple algorithm to fix this, it’s more a systemic problem.
If you don’t design for it it from the beginning you will never be in control.
While most discussions are about Facebook I personally think YouTube has issues of a similar size. It’s the magic place where you can find someone explaining how to replace that tiny spare part in your car, but it’s also full of nonsense, spreading faster then a computer can stop it.
Snap showed some nice demo’s of what it can do with augmented reality. AR personalises reality. Again, we can look at the same object and my experience can be totally different from yours, just like a news feed.
What if AR meets all the problems Facebook and Youtube have? Would you let your kids use it?
Design automation is still on the rise and this year it made it to the ‘keep vigilant watch’ of Amy Webb’s yearly tech report.
Not only do our design tools get better, algorithms are taking over a lot of jobs that can be done manually, but are require a lot of time or craftsmanship. Better, more accessible tools democratise design and the act of making something.
For example Spectre uses machine learning to create a beautiful time-lapsed pictures, something very difficult before. Or take a tool like colourise, it takes a black and white picture and colourises it, with a focus Singaporean photos. Or SC-FEGAN, a tool for altering faces just by drawing on them.
Pinterest on steroids
If these generative tools move from pictures to video (and they already did) we eventually move beyond 3D-modelling to create alternate realities that look completely real.
This kind of generative technology can also used towards turning any idea into pictures or maybe even a technical scheme. Think what this can do for architecture or interior design. It’s like talking to Pinterest or turning a mood-board into AutoCAD. Increasing accessibility by lowering the technical barrier.
The watch website Hodinkee makes a Podcast and they have some great long discussions with designers and their passion for design and engineering.
IDEO popularised Design Thinking. The definition is quite broad. For me it’s applying skills designers learned to bigger problems that aren’t necessarily a design problem, but a human problem. And allow non-designers to use them.
It’s a different way of looking at a problem. Long time IDEO was on the forefront of this design domain. It’s great they created this overview. IDEO and Design Thinking contributed a lot to how design is spreading through companies.
In 2018 I read, discussed and talked a lot about Product Design roadmaps and Design teams. On building career paths and scaling the capability of designers within companies that are more and more driven by technology in every domain.
I believe digital design is moving through some of it break through years and how we organise as a design community, share and learn will deeply influence the future of our jobs. It’s so exciting to just look at the challenges ahead.
How the role of the designers changes/d
Agile: The agile movement pushed design towards Product Teams within companies, not just tech, but all companies dependent on tech. Let’s call it the ‘incremental movement’, which is not only for software, but also for hardware and life styles. Everything as a service, long time goals, short term plans.
Back to technology, by decentralising design it created space for centralised support functions as design system teams, design research and designOps. Moving teams in house, even for companies that exist despite of technology, not because of.
Marketing: The disconnect of Product Design from agencies and marketing departments continued. This is both good and bad.
It’s good because it helps Product Design to grow up, be independent, close to product and customers and a driver for making a better product and experience.
Agencies found new ways of operating and adding value delivering teams as a service, joint-ventures, training or some other hybrid form. It only works when you work together.
What’s bad about this disconnect is that a company is a collection of people, who all deliver value on a certain level. For a customer, product, sales and services are becoming a single thing, the experience.
What’s the difference between web and social? When is it service, marketing or sales? And who cares? The customer doesn’t, only departments do.
The companies that do well are companies that connect or integrate verticals best and are in some sense led by a clear vision or goal. Where they use customer feedback to steer. A learning system.
Integration: Marketing is becoming product, product is becoming marketing, service is product and product is service. The digital split between touch points is evaporating.
Online stores are opening retail stores, why? Because once you start integrating both online (web, app, social, smart sensors) and offline (location, experience, people) there is a lot of additional value you can deliver.
We’re moving towards a system (brand) that delivers an experience. How you organise this behind the curtains makes all the difference.
Back to design
As a result design is getting out of control of a single group. There is no single experience anymore. It’s the a collection of interactions. Beyond the control of a person or department.
A lot of people get involved in the process of design. Through design sprints, business model design or some sort of a proposition canvas. It’s based on design values.
This is why this is such an interesting time for Design. We can be the glue, between people, business and technology and contribute on a different more strategic level in companies.
That’s why it’s about the scaling of principles. Look at the overall experience and see how something small can have a big impact.
For me it’s most like a city. What makes a great city? It’s not control. It’s culture, rules or lack of rules, opportunities, safety. No single person or organisation controls the city, everyone contributes.
The big question is. How do you build a great city?
It was an interesting discussion. There is this moment where data either scares or enables. What is surely does is that it changes the role of the designer.
Data, machine learning, Ai, is something that has some form of autonomy. It’s either too big to control or it doesn’t tell us how it did what it did.
From architect to planner
Designers are used to be completely in control. In my view we’re making a shift from operating as an architect, who has a lot of control on the outcome, to the role of a city planner, who has limit control of the outcome, but more control of the playing field.
This also changes the capabilities a designer needs. (Digital) design is still growing up, we’re talking to different stakeholders on different levels than we did 10 years ago. Some of the worlds most valuable companies are design driven. Design is seen.
We’re being offered a seat at the table to drive from a persons view and advocate User Centred Design. To do this we must feel comfortable in new domains.
10 years ago you needed to know how a computer operates.
Now you need to know what data can do, how to read it and how to leverage it.
I visited mainly design talks. The biggest take-out for me is how design is changing from interfaces and experiences towards a system level. Taking into account everything that happens in and around a system, it’s a big opportunity for designers.
I contributed to the book This is Service Design Doing as a reviewer. It’s a book about Service Design in practice and a follow up on This is Service Design Thinking. A great book about the practices of service design and how to apply it in your work.
Recently we organised the Behavior Design meetup. Dan Lockton (UK) presented about Design Intent. He talked about how people give a device, interface or product a meaning. Even if they don’t fully understand what’s going on.
Giving meaning to something helps creating context and gives some sort of control. Not being in control, even if this is by great design, can result in a bad product experience as well. If you don’t trust the input, how can you trust the output.
I really like the view Dan has on design. Instead of seeing design as a something formative that tries to steer behaviour he has a much more adaptive approach where design has to change, add and adapt to existing behaviour.
The PDMA (Product Development & Management Association) is a global association bringing people together who work in innovation and product development. The Dutch chapter just released a book with 50 most inspiring innovations from the Netherlands.
The @lly case a project we have done with Somehow for Vebego Innovations is featured in the book as one of the 50 cases 🙂