Left brain, meet right brain

By Catherine
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By Catherine Bolgar

Three Jigsaw Puzzle Pieces on Table

When Louis Henry Sullivan said, “Form ever follows function,” he was talking about architecture of buildings. But today his 19th-century credo is cited in many other spheres where engineering and design interact, including technology and software.

The lines are blurring, though, so that in the future, engineering and design will be seamlessly integrated.

Good designers are engineers,” says Blade Kotelly, senior lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and vice president of design and consumer experience at Jibo Inc., which makes a social robot for the home. At the same time, customers are no longer as wowed by raw technology and they expect an easy, and aesthetic, user experience.

Design runs to the core of things,” he adds. “Large companies realize they’re being outdone by smaller companies that are putting design at the center of their thinking.”

Brainstorming Brainstorm Business People Design ConceptsThis design-thinking approach can be hard for engineers to understand, Mr. Kotelly says: “The beginning of the design process looks like very little is happening, because the designers are trying to get their brains around the problem fully. Before that, they ask whether the problem is even a good one to solve. Then they figure out what’s going to make the solution successful, then they begin the typical design process of research, prototyping, testing, iterating.”

Modular structures or open-source components that can be swapped in or out in a modular way reduce the risk of change, so “you can iterate faster,” he says.

“It’s important to think architecturally about the system—how it breaks out at the top level and the smaller and smaller components—to be able to observe technology as the landscape is changing,” Mr. Kotelly says.

The Internet of Things is making it possible to create systems as never before. However, we’re likely to soon stop talking about the IoT as it becomes the norm.

“It’s like plastics in the 1960s,” says Dirk Knemeyer, a founder of Involution Studios, a Boston-area software design studio. “The distinction of things being plastic was super-important. A couple of decades passed, and plastic things are just things.”

In the same way, “in the future, everything that is digital and many things that are not will be in the Internet of Things,” he says.

Systems require holistic thinking. And that requires integrated teams. “Getting to a successful integrated model that puts design in an appropriate strategic place can be challenging,” Mr. Knemeyer says. “It requires overcoming the biases and preconceptions of stakeholders who are already in place and who often have a skeptical view of design and creative expression as part of business. They also have existing fiefdoms they control, and fear that order might be upset by redesign of people and processes.”

Tearing down management silos provides a new problem-solving methodology and mindset that can augment the traditional perspectives, whether financial, operational or technological.

The engineering perspective is raw capability: what is the range of possibilities technology can do,” Mr. Knemeyer says. “Design says, ‘from these technologies, here are the things that can be done specific to the needs of customers.’”

Addressing customer needs is at the core of high-impact design, or design that brings a meaningful change in increasing revenues and reducing costs, he adds.

Business People Team Teamwork Working Meeting ConceptAt the same time, design thinking doesn’t just create efficiencies, but new ideas, says Mathias Kirchmer, managing director of BPM-D, a West Chester, Pennsylvania, consultancy that helps companies increase performance through cross-functional business and information-technology initiatives.

In the classic approach, a company starts mapping the processes it needs to accomplish, then optimizing so the processes will be carried out efficiently, then writing the actual software, then implementing or installing it. “It’s very inside-out driven,” Dr. Kirchmer says. “In today’s world, that’s a huge problem. First, it’s too slow. We need a faster approach. Second, the inside-out view doesn’t deliver results to drive profitable growth. It doesn’t improve the customer experience sufficiently. It’s good to be more efficient, but that doesn’t make enough of a difference for the client and move the organization to the next performance level.”

Companies compete in just 15% of their processes, he says. The rest is commodity—that is, matching competitors rather than differentiating beyond them. That high-impact 15% requires innovation enabled through design thinking.

Dr. Kirchmer sees four aspects of design thinking:

• empathy to look at high-impact processes from a customer point of view;
• transfer of ideas from unrelated fields to introduce innovation;
• storytelling to communicate the customer journey and intended innovations in a way that will resonate with all the involved teams;
• rapid prototyping to quickly get to the visual design of user interfaces and software development.

The melding of disciplines means that in the future, designers will need to be more knowledgeable about core science or core engineering. “The way science is moving is going to pull all of us into a more quantified scientific environment,” Mr. Knemeyer says.

 

Catherine Bolgar is a former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Europe, now working as a freelance writer and editor with WSJ. Custom Studios in EMEA. For more from Catherine Bolgar, along with other industry experts, join the Future Realities discussion on LinkedIn.

Photos courtesy of iStock

Great design is everything… and not enough   

By Alyssa
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Imagine the disappointment. Your design is innovative and beautiful. Your product is as useful as it is intuitive. A perfect marriage of form and function.

You did absolutely everything right.  And yet, your customers keep leaving you. Why?

To put it simply, your customers leave because they can. Easily. Today’s markets are transparent, production is global, competition is fierce and consumers are powerful. With comparative price, availability and performance information available online 24/7, companies can easily discover and copy one another’s innovations, and rapidly bring alternatives to market. And customers can easily survey all options and switch allegiance at will.

How can companies combat this? When a customer becomes engrossed in a compelling experience, rather than simply purchasing and using a product, a true relationship can be formed and a bond of loyalty created.  This is the reason “customer experience” has become a top priority for CEOs.

So, how do companies create these experiences?  In a new 3-page paper, “Design in the Age of Experience,” Dassault Systemes explores the current design environment and how companies employing a traditional strategy of competing on price or features or even just design find themselves struggling to sustain the game of one-upmanship and manage customer churn.

How can a company transform itself to thrive in the Age of Experience?  We invite you to discover this answer now!

You can also check out here to see more about discussions held at our recent event, Design in the Age of Experience, that took place last month in Milan, bringing together ~400 attendees from different industries and from around the globe.

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ENOVIA at DESIGN in the Age of EXPERIENCE

By Matthew
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DitaoEComing this April 11-12 in Milan, Italy – join colleagues and like-minded design-focused professionals from around the world as they converge on what will be a blow-out global conference.  For two days, come and be inspired by solutions delivering disruptive 3D experiences for designers around the world. Let’s imagine together the future of Design and Engineering, connecting the dots from FICTION to FUNCTION, and innovating across roles on Dassault Systèmes.

ENOVIA will be at this event and we invite you to join our breakout sessions planned that we hope you attend.

April 11
Day 1:

  • Brand CEO Breakout Session

April 12
Day 2:

  • Accelerating Market-Driven Product Development with Garth Coleman VP of ENOVIA Brand Marketing (9:30am)
    Learn how to get the best ideas from the market and enable requirements-driven
  • Keeping complex projects on time with Invisible Governance with of ENOVIA Brand Marketing Howie Markson (10:15am)
    Learn how to provide global teams with accurate, realtime information to keep design deliverables on track and respond to ever-shrinking product lifecycles
  • Harness the power of 3DEXPERIENCE and CATIA V5 with Howie Markson (11:30am)
    Learn what exciting and unique 3DEXPERIENCE® applications can be leveraged by CATIA V5 data to enhance your design capabilities and improve your productivity
  • Disruptive Engineering using Data Driven Design with Sameer Arora of ENOVIA User Experience (1:45pm & 2:30pm)
    Learn how to quickly capitalize on multiple market opportunities to capture market share and significantly improve design productivity

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  • Move to 3DEXPERIENCE with Sameer Arora (4:00pm)
    Transition & Coexistence approaches for CATIA V5 users moving to the 3DEXPERIENCE platform

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The day will have the other Dassault Systèmes brands on site with engaging and exciting content.  Additionally, plan to check out the 3DEXPERIENCE Playground where you will be able to enter virtual universes where you will discover how the 3DEXPERIENCE platform helps companies innovate in the age of experience and shape the future.

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We look forward to you joining everyone at this event.

HERE’s a LINK to the detailed agenda and all the relevant info for the two days can be found on the landing page HERE.

See you in Milan!



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