Market Transformation: Innovation through Design, Data and Devices

The art of design, the science of data and a focus on devices provides fertile ground for market innovation in part two of our series on essential transformational strategies.



In the first article in this series, Digital Transformation – Driving Innovation, Creating Adaptability and Developing Resilience, it concluded that there are three essential transformational strategies.

The first is market transformation, which is concerned with changing the marketplace – or at least the organisation’s relationship with the marketplace.

It is about more than just being customer centric. It also requires looking at suppliers, competitors and regulators to uncover opportunities to create new value. It also needs to consider the organisation itself as a dynamic participant in shaping and influencing the marketplace over time, not as a static provider/consumer of services.

There are three critical leverage points to consider when approaching market transformation. The first two, in a very real sense, combine art and science.

Design drives innovation

The ‘art’ comes through a focus on design.

Design and design thinking has become quite hot in recent years, but what is it?

Tim Brown, president and CEO of design industry pioneer IDEO, describes it this way: “Design thinking is a human-centred approach to innovation that draws from the designer's toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”

One of the most familiar examples of design thinking is the discipline of customer experience (CX) and the description of customer journeys, but the approach is applicable across a broad range of creative problem solving.

There are a number of different approaches (as befits a creative endeavour) but there is a lot of similarity between them and they all try to provide some structure to the creative process.

The easiest for a simple person like me to understand is one espoused by the Darden School of Business that systematically asks four sets of questions:

  1. What is? Develop a deep understanding of the current situation, the challenges, the opportunities and the people involved.
  2. What if? Develop a range of possible solutions.
  3. What wows? Systematically assess the impact of various solutions.
  4. What works? Rapidly assess and test solutions, often via prototypes.

Together these questions – and a set of supporting techniques such as personas, customer journeys and brainstorming – deliver innovative, impactful and cost effective products and services.

Data drives insights

The ‘science’ comes from a focus on data and analytics to inform the creative process, support implementation, and evolve operations.

We’ve all heard about the impact of big data and analytics, so I won’t delve deeply here. The main point is that data is a powerful weapon to deploy in transforming the market place – and an underappreciated and underutilised asset in many organisations.

As many people have said: “If we just knew what we already knew.”

Devices drive connection

The third leverage point is flagged in Telsyte’s recently released Digital Nation 2016 research report which is based on a survey of 441 ANZ ICT decision makers.

The report highlights the continued consumerisation of ICT and the growing range of devices that connect consumers to the digital ecosystem.

To quote Telsyte: “The availability of limitless information via a growing range of devices is changing the way we shop, communicate and entertain ourselves, and this is shaping our attitude toward technology.”

Devices provide both connection and constraints, creating opportunities and challenges.

For example, most of us have a smart phone on our person 18 hours a day. That device is context aware. It knows what our habits are, who we have connected with, what we have done, where we are, what/who is near us, and can then use that information – if we let it – to improve our quality of life. Great opportunity!

At the same time, it has a smallish screen that limits the amount of information it can display and has a battery that limits the amount of connection it can maintain and work it can do. A few challenges…

However, putting those two things together – with a broad view of the marketplace and a platform like Uber – can disrupt a whole industry.

As the Telsyte report notes, penetration of new devices – the latest being wearables – continues to grow, and more will come.

So an ongoing focus on devices – coupled with the art of design and the science of data – provides fertile ground for continued market innovation.

But how do we then continually reorganise to take advantage of these opportunities?

This is the second challenge in achieving digital transformation: organisational transformation.

Further Reading