Customer perspective can provide a common language

Is it possible to find a common language between business and design?
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In today's global competitive environment, the competence of designers is needed more and more, but finding a common language between designers and business people is not always easy. Another aspect of today's business world is that business is done on consumers' terms. These topical themes were discussed at Design Club, one of the events of Helsinki Design Week, where experts spoke about how design can be used to boost business.

Museum Director Jukka Savolainen from Design Museum held a concise presentation on how times have changed since the beginning of industrial mass production. Businesses now understand the power consumers hold and a user-centred approach is more common. As an example of today's business philosophy, Savolainen mentioned taxi service Uber.

’The arrival of the internet has changed the world significantly, and the biggest change is yet to come. The importance of creative work has grown and will continue to grow’, says Dean Anna Valtonen from the School of Arts, Design and Architecture.

The need for new approaches will also grow in the future as natural resources grow scarce. According to designer Ilkka Suppanen, designers are good problem solvers because they are used to looking at matters from different perspectives.

Jaana Beidler, Professor of Colour and Material Design, highlighted that companies can use designers to successfully stand out from their competitors.

’Nike has created an innovative business culture where designers have been given more power than before. Both business and design competence are present at the corporate management level. This is called a ”both-brain” approach where results are analysed by a business professional and the future is sketched by a designer’, Beidler explains.

How big is the gap between design and business? According to Jukka Savolainen, more dialogue is definitely needed. Ilkka Suppanen believes that a common language already exists in creating value for customers.

’Instead of target profits, businesses should talk about their vision. Something that is easy to understand and motivates people. In the case of Nike, the vision was to make people enjoy sport, and this vision provided inspiration for employees’, Beidler says.

’Finding a common language is extremely important. It is also one of the main goals of Aalto University: we aim at creating dialogue between technology, business, and the arts’, Beidler sums up.

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