Design thinking can be defined as the creative process of coming up with new innovative ideas to solve problems. Design thinking combines innovation and critical thinking to allow data to be organized, decisions to be implemented and solutions to be enhanced. Design thinking can be applied in all areas of industry such as technology, business, science, education, humanities and architecture. Design thinking process starts with defining the problem. Then research is done on previous attempts to solve the problem. Research is followed by ideation where design thinkers brainstorm and come up with different ideas on solving the problem. Then ideas are refined and a variety of ideas are presented to the customer. After choosing, the solution is implemented with feedback from the client collected later. Design thinking has several benefits such as creation of new efficient products and services; improved processes; increased productivity and elimination of weaknesses.
Design Thinking in the Business Model
Design thinking has been applied in business since its inception. Design thinking is a reliable and effective technique of solving business problems. The main focus of design thinking in business is meeting customer demands. Businesses have to set aside enough time for idea creation and ways to meet customer requirements. Design thinking has to be the centre in strategy development and managerial change in order to establish a culture that is focussed on problem solving. Creative ways of solving problems can be applied to production, services and any business process that needs improvement. Large and small firms have applied design thinking with varying degrees of success. Most business problems are not well designed and need thorough scrutiny and analysis of data before they can be tackled. The solutions to the problems have to be creative in order to satisfy customers and enhance the business problems. This is where design thinkers come in. The process of design thinking is tedious and time consuming but the benefits far outweigh the costs.
Design Thinking in Technology
The technology sector has evolved rapidly over the years. New software systems, websites, devices, games and applications are being churned out every day. Technology companies work diligently to keep up with the changing market. Customer needs keep changing frequently and technology companies must meet these demands in all ways possible. People interact with technology constantly therefore customers are attracted to goods and services that are efficient, reliable and innovative. Firms that come up with creative ideas often outwit their less innovative counterparts and end up making more profit. Many technology firms have turned to design thinking in order to meet customer demands, increase efficiency, build quality products and overcome challenges in technology.
THE APPLE IPAD
IPads are tablet computers designed and manufactured by Apple Inc. iPads were introduced in April of 2010. So far, Apple has sold over 400 million iPads worldwide. In the tablet sector, Apple has a market share of 69.6%. This shows that the iPad is a very popular device among consumers. The iPad design, features and performance have improved over time. All these were possible because Apple applied design thinking principles to their business process. In 2009, Steve Jobs studies the market and decided that his company would produce a device that would change the way people used tablet computers. He set out with a team of designers and software engineers who did extensive research on the tablet industryat that time. Customers were queried on what type of features they would want in a tablet. The teams then came up with ideas and blueprints for creating a quality tablet computer. The ideas were refined until an iPad prototype was designed. Apple then began manufacturing iPads.
Figure 1: Tablet Shipments in 2012
When the iPad was released and it immediately became a big hit with consumers. Its selling points were its stylish user interface, the high processor speeds, connectivity and ease of use. Because the iPad was very light and portable, users could use it wherever. However it had its problems too such as battery life, lack of a cameras, lack of USB ports and incompatibility with other devices. Apple design teams have applied innovative solutions to these problems over time. Application of design thinking has enabled improvements on the weaknesses of the initial device. Over the years, Apple has improved the user interface, prolonged battery life, installed faster processors and created different accessories for the iPad. Taking consumer feedback has been central to improving the iPad. IPads have wide ranging applications from communication, art, music, aviation, health, sport and education. Apple has changed the way people communicate and interact with computers. IPads are used by people from all ages from kids to adults. Apple’s business rivals such as Google, Microsoft and Samsung have created their own tablets but they have never been able to beat Apple in tablet sales. Apple owes it all to design thinking.
Google Glass is a type of wearable technology that was released by Google Inc. in February 2013. Features in Google Glass include an LED display, camera, internet browser and real time GPS. Google Glass was developed by Google to be a form of an ever present computer. Google Glass was created by Google X, a team of Google designers dedicated to creating new technological innovations. The designers were tasked with the challenge of making a smaller and thinner version of previous display designs. Google X developers suggested and tried many designs until a Google Glass prototype was created in 2011. The prototype was heavy and cumbersome to use therefore Google continued innovation and variations to the design until a satisfactory device was created. Google’s consumer-centric policy ensured that user input was considered at all levels on conception of Google Glass.
Google Glass was released in 2013. The device was improved and had new features such a touchpad that enabled users to control the device and voice commands. The device was initially only compatible with phones and tablets that ran on Android OS but over time, the designers have enabled compatibility with Apple products. Google Glass has found applications in internet usage, communication, navigation, medical technology, photography, journalism and art. Google has constantly installed new improvements on the device making it desirable and effective. Application of creative designs to Google Glass has made Google a leader in scientific innovation especially in the wearable technology sector. Google Glass is a big improvement over previous wearable devices produced by Sony and Nokia.
ANDROID OPERATING SYSTEM
Android is a mobile phone operating system developed by Google. Android is used by mobile phones, smart watches and tablet computers. Special versions of Android are applied in cars, televisions and digital cameras. Android was developed in 2003. Google intended to create a smart mobile operating system that was aware of its user’s likes and location. It was initially proposed for digital cameras but the market was scarce. Therefore, the developers studied the market and decided to create a mobile operating system to compete with Nokia, Windows and Blackberry. The developers and designers conceptualized ideas on the system. In 2006, Google created an Android OS model. The model underwent many improvements and changes until 2007 when the complete Android OS was released. In 2008, HTC launched the first phone running on Android.
Android has grown to become the world’s most popular mobile operating system beating its rivals such as Apple, Nokia, Blackberry and Windows. Today, more than half of smartphone users in the world have Android phones. Android’s meteoritic rise has been attributed to the creative strategies and innovations that Google has implemented. The creation of a Google store helped consumers customize their phones and use it for a variety of functions. By listening to customer feedback and improving the operating system, Android has been able to sell more phones than its competitors. Introduction of services such as widgets, Google Play store, Google Now and Google Music have been well received by consumers. Android’s rise is clear manifestation that design thinking is beneficial to the business process. Android has immensely changed the mobile operating systems niche.
Figure 2: U.S. Smartphone Market Share by Operating System
TESLA MOTORS ELECTRIC CARS
Tesla Motors is an American firm that produces electric cars. Tesla Motors was founded in 2003. The main objective was to manufacture efficient electric cars for the market. Tesla Motors created many design for the electric car. Earlier designs were ineffective and had performance. In 2005, the designers incorporated carbon fibre into design of the car body. In 2006, the Tesla Roadster was launched. The Tesla Roadster was the first car to use lithium-ion batteries. The Roadster was an innovation breakthrough that Tesla Motors built on. In 2008, Tesla Motors launched the Tesla S model which was cheaper, efficient and aimed at the low end market. The latest car to be produced is the Tesla Roadster 2.5 which has many improvements over the original Tesla Roadster model. The 2.5 Roadster has better performance, more miles per charge, higher acceleration, higher speed and more refined luxury features. Tesla has designed the Tesla model X, a concept car that it plans to start producing soon.
Through creativity and intelligent design, Tesla Motors has become the leader in premium electric vehicle manufacture beating competitors like Mitsubishi, Opel, Chevrolet and Renault. Tesla Motors produces and sells more electric cars than any other automobile company in the world. Tesla has made improvements in the zero emission vehicle categories helping to reduce pollution and climate global warming. Tesla has also established several charging stations across the U.S. to swap band charge depleted batteries. Tesla’s battery designs are improvements over normal electric car batteries. The lithium ion batteries in Tesla car models are cheaper, lighter and more reliable. Tesla Motor operates a shrewd business model that enables it to interact directly with customers. The feedback from customers has been instrumental in designing high quality cars. Therefore, design thinking has enabled Tesla to achieve phenomenal success in the electric motor industry.
Facebook is social networking site that enables users to write posts, post pictures, send messages and share videos. Facebook has grown to become the world’s most popular social media site. Currently it has over 1.2 billion subscriptions with 800 million active users every day. Facebook was started by Mark Zuckerberg and his colleagues in 2004. It grew from being a Harvard students-only website to incorporating other universities in the Ivy League. Later other universities and high schools were allowed to join Facebook. In 2006, Facebook was opened to anyone in the world who is over 13 years with an email address. Since then, Facebook has grown exponentially. The growth of Facebook has been due to the introduction of new features to the site and constant upgrades.
Facebook has evolved over time. The developers have applied new improved designs to enhance the customer experience with the site. The user interface has been enriched momentously since 2006. Facebook has also inculcated different apps and support for various video formats. Facebook’s website arrangement has also been improved making it easier to use. Facebook introduced news feed features that enabled users get real time information and news about various subjects. Such designs improvements have made Facebook very popular. Facebook is the most visited social media site in the world. Many firms have turned to Facebook to market their products and grow an online presence. Politicians use Facebook to spread their ideologies and to campaign during elections. Innovation and creativity have helped Facebook beat competitors such as Twitter, Google+ and Myspace. Facebook has changed the way people communicate, express themselves and share multimedia content .
Design thinking is concerned with creating new innovative products that offer solutions to everyday problems. One area where design thinking has been applied is in creating Ring. Ring is a type of wearable technology that enables users to send messages, controls mobile devices, open doors, remote control televisions. Ring uses innovative gesture-recognition technology to run different applications. Ring’s creative features have been lauded by consumers. Users of Ring find it easy to operate different devices using the technology get the most out of their phones. Ring is also fun to use.
Figure 3: Screenshot of Ring Technology Article in CNN
Figure 4: Screenshot of Ring Technology Article in PasteMagazine .
Design thinking is the creative process of coming up with new innovative ideas to solve problems. Design thinking combines innovation and critical thinking to allow data to be organized, decisions to be implemented and solutions to be enhanced. Design thinking has several benefits such as creation of new efficient products and services; improved processes; increased productivity and elimination of weaknesses. Design thinking is a reliable and effective technique of solving business problems. Examples of design thinking applications in technology include the iPad, Android operating system, Tesla Motors electric cars, Facebook and google Glass. Ring technology is a case study of how design thinking has been successfully implemented in technology. Therefore, design thinking should be integrated by business to improve their products and maximize profits.
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