Business leaders, politicians and thought leaders recommend Denmark to catch the opportunities made available by digitization. But if the digital tsunami currently taking the world by storm should be transformed into economic growth and welfare, we need to take a systematic approach: one that is offered by our unique design heritage.
The value of taking a design approach has luckily not gone unnoticed by many Danish companies such as Templafy, Unity, Tradeshift, JustEat and many more; all termed “unicorns” and valued at 1 billion USD or more. A new survey made by the Confederation of Danish Industry (Dansk Industri) and Danish Design Centre shows that among those companies working most strategically with design, over 90% can see a direct correlation to an increased turnover. At the same time the survey unfortunately also reveals that almost half of all Danish companies do not see that design is relevant to them.
Making or breaking new digital products
Imagine if Spotify had been super slow and difficult to use. Or if the user interface of Skype was confusing and ugly. Or if MobilePay had been complicated and frustrating? Would they have been able to revolutionize music consumption, telephone communication and money transfers? The short answer is no. All three became successful not just because they were built on good technology, but because they put user experience front and center. They illustrate how the one thing that make or break new digital products and services is: good design.
Design: a creative approach towards innovation
In general, Danish design makes you think about beautiful furniture and lifestyle products. But design – or rather to design – is really a more universal way of approaching problem solving. The kind of design we are talking about has several names, for instance design thinking or strategic design. The key is to use design to craft a systematic way of experimenting as an organization. It includes steps like placing users at the very center of your innovative work, to ensure that all new ideas are based on actual needs. It also includes building quick prototypes – sometimes with just pen and paper – to test quickly on actual customers. And then iterate. This way you can harvest ideas from users and play with new technologies and experiment with them in a swift manner to see what actually works.
Danish design: an invisible resource?
Danish design is an obvious tool to turn the digital tsunami into new opportunities for companies, organizations and citizens. Its ability to combine quality, ethics, functionality and sustainability – often with a clean, simple, Nordic aesthetic – is creating a stronghold, that we as a globally recognized design nation can leverage much more in the digital realm, than we are currently doing. At the High Tech Summit 2019 we are looking forward to collectively explore how to succeed in this.
“It’s no use closing your eyes to the changes. We need to constantly keep up and try to influence the process.”
Professor Jan Madsen, DTU Compute