Design and development of future products in the Digital Age.
"If we close our eyes and imagine life in the next 10 years, what do you see? If we compare the life, like traveling on the train to globalization, our journey has stepped up to the full Industrial Revolution. The key factor is technology-driven, causing a rapid change in the blink of eyes. It affects the lives of our diverse aspects, in terms of demand, the means of human needs, to the culture of consumption of goods and services every day. For instance, if we just want to eat a favorite coffee at coffee shop, it can be ordered through an online application easily without the need to wait and queue at the shop. Or an electrical equipment, such as speakers, it integrates artificial intelligence or AI to help create smart features that can be ordered through the voice and connected to applications in smart phones. This can be seen as an innovative product and/or service which make our lives be comfortable, and affecting change in industrial design and product development continually.
Design and Product Development
When we talk about the meaning of design and product development, it is a thinking process of problem-solving, and developing products and services to meet the needs of users, in response to the use of mass production and support systems in the industry. If we look back to 20 years ago, an influential German designer, Dieter (Dieter Rams), the founder of the Braun product design known as the industry-renowned legend, define 10 principles of good design, i.e. Good design is innovative, creative, useful, beautiful, easy to understand, simple, honest, usable for a long time, a scrutiny of every detail and lastly environmental friendly. Moreover, it should be designed to be as less as possible. These principles continue to be a design philosophy for today designed products throughout several decades. Whether, these are still applicable to meet demand and to adapt in the future? Let's find out together.
Then, how the future will be?
It is undeniable that design dimensions have been changed and reformed quickly to meet human needs and the culture of consumption of each period. In 2018, Oliver Graphite Bass (Oliver Grabes), Design Director of the company Braun, has his process guidelines for designing future products. For him, the principles of the Rams are still a timeless philosophy that the company adheres to the present. It depends on whether we will bring these values to be applied to the context of changing life. Grabes mentioned that the future of product design must take, into account, the connection with the technological capability to seamless propel the lives of the people. For him, the design in the future is to see opportunity to simply create, not too complicated over human needs and make it better and better.
In another perspective, design and product development are not only tangible but also digital products. For instance, Abstract, an American application development designed the application that helps the communication of Design Team and increases performance to many organizations. Heather Phillips, the Design Director of Abstract commented that design mindset or design principle to help solve the problems would be used to develop and create new innovation for sustainable business growth on 2020. Those are challenging for the future of design. As mentioned above, product design has many dimensions to be rethinking for its growth in the future.
Let's see some movement in Thailand, in early January 2020. Thailand's designers have come up with questions, i.e. the future of the creative design. The design exhibition entitled 'Adaptation, Survival and Growth,' was organized by the Center for Knowledge and Creativity (TCDC) has sparked designers and entrepreneurs, bringing ideas and finding answers to that. To create a sustainable future on uncertainties, as young designers and experience working in product design and development over a period of 7 years, so I gather ideas, perspectives and attitudes in regard of the key factors to stimulate the thought, inspiring helpful things in adapting to design business in the digital age, as shown below.
Immersive engagement with technology "design to become one with the right balance of technology." The design and development of products to connect to the Internet seamlessly (IOT) will not be long and will be a growing segment. Referred to the statistics of Global Digital Report, in 2019, the number of Thai users on the internet is 82% out of the total population. These people spend time online more than 9 hours per day. It may sound scary, but it has become one of the factors that create challenges to product designers. This fact is that designers need to be well-rounded and need to work across disciplines more.
In terms of adaptability, if designers and related industries work with the balance of valuable design combined with skills in technology, such as learning new skills, production technology, connectivity AI (Artificial Intelligence) in order to facilitate, ease of use or even the application of virtual worlds (AR and VR) to aid communication and presentation. This will help to create value-added design and promote the development of products to meet the needs and applications in the future.
Becoming a business designer
"The combination of designers and businessmen is to create new opportunities.”
Being good design, it is not enough but it must be coupled with a mindset of business. With the increased intense competition in the industry, the beautiful products, creating great user experience, produced with limited costs and quickly released to the market in very short period of time, become the basic requirement of the current design. It impacts those product designers to the need to find new market for the growth of their businesses. With a focus on creating value, learning business skills rather than the interest that the product should look like. Indeed, because the key goal of product design and development is the same goal of doing business which are the satisfaction and confirmation by consumers as well as the profitability and growth.
In the future, leader with a logical analysis of the business combined with a highly creative angle of designer, is becoming the advantages that create new business opportunities. This will lead to design strategies and operational clear guidelines, worthwhile investment, and meet the needs of consumers. They also help predict the risk of developing long-term growth and efficiency as well.
During the past decade, we have noticed that the idea stems from a profound understanding of the principles of user-centered solutions in creative and innovative design. Design thinking, or as we name it, has become one of the fundamental processes of development of modern industry.
According to the statistics of The Design Management Institute in 2016 revealed a rate of rapid growth of enterprise applications that Design thinking is in the design and development of products, such as Apple, Coca-Cola, Nike, IBM and Starbucks, etc. These organizations have high growth rate of 211% in the past 10 years. However, many businesses have trouble in bringing the idea to continue. Due to the state of the organization and unfavorable factors, actually, the main idea for designers is not something new. It is very close to them. Only that it may not have been fully understood and applied in the context of a real business. It will be effective only if leaders understand the design thinking process thoroughly and properly, implementing. It will help create a strategy to design innovative products and services.
Empathising customer experience
Consumers in nowadays ever more discerning and harder to please. Therefore, we need to know the tricks and predict what they want and keep the trend of their consumption regularly. In the future, these people will turn attention to the creation of contents and the quality of the experience from the usage of products and services even more. The study and understanding of consumer insights, or customer Insight, became the basis for the design study which will help us know what our customers want, what value they look for and what design should fix it.
These will help designers understand consumers. It is not only the profound dimensions of its design alone but a conscious design experience with our products in all dimensions. Beginning from where customers buy products, their decisions to buy, during, and after-sales service, etc., to product development. Those insights will help designers meet and fulfill the experience of consumers.
"From the foregoing, these are just some of the ideas that reflect the factors that will influence the future of design and product development. This is only a spark to start. You need to learn and develop the idea regardless of passing time. The balance of the value of design is important that designers need to consider adapting this. The last thing that will help us survive through the change is that we do not stop learning, acting and developing ourselves continuously in order to create greater design for the future".