The digital world levels the playing field for all kinds of business and all kinds of services. But it also offers tremendous sources of competitive advantage for enterprises that can embrace the opportunities created by today’s digital technologies: cloud computing, agile development, analytics, and artificial intelligence. These technologies enable truly differentiating customer experiences – hyper-personalized and continuously evolving – at scale.
Hyper-personalization is one component of the framework that we refer to as ‘Business 4.0TM’. That’s our shorthand way of referring to the next phase of business evolution, one driven by the technological breakthroughs of the past several years and by the ability to leverage ecosystems of partners and technologies. Business 4.0TM enterprises will embrace risk by making lots of small investments in new businesses, new business models, and new varieties of customer experience in the quest to uncover massive new opportunities and create exponential value.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist, or even an engineer, to see that the digital world of today opens all kinds of new opportunities. But to fully realize those opportunities, it is essential to answer two key questions: How do you discover and develop big ideas? And how do you foster innovation throughout the enterprise?
For us, the answer lies in a discipline invented several decades ago: design thinking.
Design thinking is a proven framework for ideation. As a framework, design thinking is highly flexible. It can be applied to all kinds of situations and all kinds of teams. And because it brings diverse people together (representatives of different functions within a customer organization plus experts in digital technologies, user experience, content strategy, and other disciplines), design thinking leads to diverse ideas and innovations. Design thinking is also extremely fast, enabling people to create and test ideas quickly.
As I outline in the linked article, “Discovering Game-Changing Possibilities with Design Thinking”, design thinking engagements typically begin with a discovery process that articulates “what is” – then briefs workshops participants about generating ideas about “would could be.” What new or emerging need can you address using the tools and technologies of today?
If you were designing a user experience for, say, a bank from scratch, you would think less about optimizing transactions and more about creating a new, digitally-powered experience. For example, what would a personalized, holistic approach to personal financial management look like? What if that experience could monitor your free cash flow, anticipate your cash needs, and automatically invest an appropriate amount in a portfolio designed for you? Or what would a truly intelligent budgeting system look like? Transactions are secondary; the experience and totality of the offering is what will get new customers and increase your share of wallet.
Design thinking generates tons of ideas and opens up all kinds of new avenues to pursue. Significantly, it also can help any enterprise foster a culture of innovation so that ideation and creativity can become a permanent part of its DNA.
How do you make your enterprise more creative and more idea led? How have you used design thinking to find new opportunities?