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When I was just starting out as an industrial designer, I can remember rolling my eyes when I heard some prominent designer or design agency talking about how designers were going to save the world. I thought they were a bit full of themselves (and I still do), but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t some value in what they were saying.
They didn’t have a name for it at the time, but what they were talking about is what we now refer to as design thinking. Design thinking is broad and vaguely defined, and if you ask ten designers what it is you’re likely to get 12 different opinions; but if you examine those various opinions you’ll start to see some themes repeated, reflecting many of the tools that designers use in their process including user-empathy, prototyping as exploration, abductive reasoning, re-framing, and the list goes on. As a starting point, we have identified five tools of design thinking that can be applied in a research context.
Design is a subtle, intuitive, and non-linear process. It cannot simply be mapped and codified into a repeatable, cookie-cutter method, but the principles underlying it can be emulated and applied to other problems including research design. If we can remember these principles when we are planning, conducting, or analyzing research, we will open up new opportunities, generate more meaningful insights, and create richer feedback.
Perhaps the most important element of design thinking is that—contrary to what those design luminaries would have you believe—it is not restricted to an elite group of people. As Nobel Prize laureate Herbert Simon said, “Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones” (Sciences of the Artificial, 3rd ed., 1996). So, while you may not have the training to design the next ground-breaking smartphone or web search algorithm, you can apply the mindset of design thinking to your area of expertise and go a step further, or maybe even leap beyond.
Tyler Duston is a User Experience Lead Specialist at GfK. Please email Tyler.Duston@gfk.com to share your thoughts.
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GfK TEMAX® results for Western Europe, Q3 2016
Efficiency at the press of a button: RegioGraph supports companies of all branches in the optimal use of available resources and regional potential down to the level of street segments. A case study from the business-to-business sector shows how.
Mexico, USA and Netherlands lead for populations who help others a minimum of once a month. Men slightly ahead of women overall, while 20-29 year olds lead across age groups.
GfK's Map of the Month for November illustrates Europe's purchasing power density at the 2-digit postcode level. Purchasing power density refers to the purchasing power sum per square kilometer (source: "GfK Purchasing Power Europe 2016").
Our survey amongst the online population across 17 countries shows that four out of ten people help others or do volunteer work at least once a month. Download our global study and find out more!
In the run up to Christmas, it is good to see that habits of generosity are still strong. Are you interested in which countries people help others at least once a month? Read more!
Tech companies are constantly releasing their latest product “innovations” as they attempt to find the growth that the sector craves. From new versions of tablets and smartphones to kitchen appliances, these aren’t the game-changing innovations that will halt market stagnation and prevent decline. Where is the growth in the tech sector going to come from?
Innovation, in the true sense of the word, means finding new and different ways to solve customers’ problems. Genuine growth in the technology sector can only be achieved this way. If the prevailing approach of evolution rather than revolution persists, many of the companies that are around today will no longer exist in the next ten years. It’s not just me who thinks this. John Chambers, former CEO of CISCO, agrees: “If you don’t reinvent yourself; change your organization structure; if you don’t talk about speed of innovation, you’re going to get disrupted. And it’ll be a brutal disruption – the majority of companies will not exist in a meaningful way in 10 to 15 years from now.”
Technology is a competitive and disruptive industry. We’ve seen startups with the backing and funds threaten established players with ground-breaking innovations that change consumers’ lives for the better. They are meeting a need. Today’s Connected Consumers and B2B customers are more demanding, better educated and less forgiving than ever before. They’re hungry for genuinely new technology. And they are increasingly adept at identifying – and ignoring – slightly updated versions of technology they already have. This approach simply can’t generate the kind of sustainable growth that technology companies all over the world are trying to achieve. Put simply, product innovation is getting harder in this sector.
So how exactly do you go about being innovative? The most important requirement arguably is to let go of the obsession with the product. For the longer you focus on the technology, the less likely you are to invent something that is genuinely innovative. The real route to innovation lies with the end customer. It is only by focusing on your target audience – whether domestic or business – that you will be able to create technology that is genuinely new, necessary, relevant and desirable.
We’re not just considering product innovation in this discussion. It’s worth remembering that innovation comes in many forms. You can innovate the experience, position or re-position a brand, optimize existing portfolios and invent new brand strategies, identify and target new markets, business models, channels and customers.
I believe there are three key elements to successful innovation:
Whether it’s for consumers or businesses, how you communicate your innovation is crucial. You must anticipate the different factors that enable adoption. An emotional connection with your innovation is every bit as important as the product itself, perhaps even more so. Get this right and you’ll have the “eureka” moment you’ve been waiting for. Get it wrong and your latest innovation won’t make it further than the early adopters and a review in the specialist press.
If there’s one thing that I would like the technology industry to remember it is this: customers, customers, customers. Whether you target the B2C or B2B market, if we’re more passionate about the technology than we are about the end users who will – or won’t – use it, then John Chambers’ doom-laden prediction may come true. I am more optimistic. I believe that together we can create the radical departures needed to reinvigorate the global technology sector. We can find genuine innovation that will lead to the growth we yearn for. But only if we can put the end customer – not the technology – at the heart of the creative process.
Karl Pfister-Kraxner is the Global Head of Technology at GfK. For more information or to share your thoughts, please email email@example.com.
Genius Digital has been bought back fully by its founders. GfK retains the powerful return path data and analytics capabilities which have grown substantially under GfK’s ownership.
Findings of the GfK Consumer Climate Study for Germany for November 2016
Things are looking up for the global major domestic appliances (MDA) market in 2017. After a rather difficult year in 2016, where the market has grown by less than 1% overall, we forecast global revenue in 2017 will be a solid +4%, reaching $193 billion. This would make it the second best year after the record turnover of $196 billion measured in 2014.
Low interest rates and inflation in many regions are driving historically high levels of consumer spending. On top of that, real estate markets are booming, especially in Germany, France, Benelux and Scandinavia – leading to higher durable goods spending, such as built-in home appliances. The demographic trend in Europe towards smaller households also adds to this increased demand for home appliances.
With many consumers having more money in their pockets, the MDA market will be driven by innovative, premium smart products, such as energy efficient washing machines, heat pump tumble dryers, bottom freezer fridges with ‘No Frost’ technology, inductions hobs and self-cleaning ovens. Smart, connected appliances are currently experiencing limited demand in Europe, but we expect them to grow fast in the next years. Online sales will outperform the average market development, at the expense of the smaller traditional retail outlets.
According to our GfK forecast data, the global market for Major Domestic Appliances will grow solidly by +4% in 2017, driven by high consumer confidence in Europe and North America, a strong development in India, and a modest recovery in China, Russia and Brazil, whose once buoyant markets have recently suffered from a deterioration of economic and geo-political conditions.
Growth drivers for the developed countries in Europe and North America are a favorable macroeconomic environment with historically low interest rates and strong real estate markets. Built-in products will profit strongly from this development, and we will observe an increase in purchases of more premium products with innovative features. The sluggish market in China will be supported by a strong increase in online sales and replacements of older products. India and other developing countries in Asia will grow strongly with better educated, young families and household penetration rates which are still very low. The markets in Russia and Brazil are expected to stabilize with a stronger World economy and subsequently higher crude oil and raw material prices.
With the MDA market poised for growth, appliance manufacturers should capitalize on the market conditions with new innovate products that give consumers what they want. While increasing consumer awareness of the smart home will lead to greater adoption of smart products and appliances over time, it will be the products that seamlessly improve the lives of their owners that will find the most success.
Natalia Andrievskaya is the Global Director of Major Domestic Appliances. For more information or to share your thoughts, please email Natalia.Andrievskaya@gfk.com.