Business opportunities in Design

A comment by Ken Douros, the latest member of Does Size Matter?,  on my post exploring consulting opportunities, has captured my imagination.  Here it is in full,

The opportunity is huge.

One of the problems I’ve seen with many design firms is their focus
on maintaining their edginess in a world of sanitized business-speak.
It’s hard to maintain that air of frenetic creativity when you start
trying to explain the advantage of good design using Porter’s 5 Forces
or its place within the Five P’s of the Marketing Mix. Unfortunately,
that is precisely what is needed.

In order to really provide inescapable value to businesses,
designers need to understand how to present design across the entire
product development lifecycle. Without that understanding, design
becomes relegated to the cool styling that gets added at the end to an
otherwise ordinary product. Good design should be part of every element
of the product development process, including challenging the design of
the process itself. The best way to do that is to enlist business
people, engineers, etc. and form a coalition, all of whom speak each
other’s language and understands how to cross-leverage & recombine
the disciplines.

There may be a fear that somehow design will lose that inborn
(inbred?) sense of sophistication and "je ne sais quoi" that they have
worked so hard to cultivate, but there is also the very real
possibility that it will make design more accessible to the larger
business community that knows that they want it, but doesn’t know
precisely how to ask for it.

You can see why I’m excited by this comment. If there is, indeed, a market of the addition of business strategy and metrics to the presentation of design concepts, and this from a senior manager at the larger consumer electronics manufacturer, then I need to start getting my business plan in order to launch my services. [hopefully :)]

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3 Responses to Business opportunities in Design

  1. Hans Henrik says:

    Hi Niti
    If you need a international presence – maybe in Copenhagen? – I certainly think we should “connect”!
    All the best
    Hans Henrik

  2. Niti says:

    Why thank you Hans Henrik. Why don’t you email me what you have in mind? I will be in the UK for two weeks in July this year.

  3. jeremy says:

    yes, it’s a slow sunday evening here in shanghai!
    there most certainly is a need for an ‘interface’ for designers. On the manufacturing side they need to be familiar with the timelines and limitations of production. And of course on the sales side they need to be aware of the type of product they’re to design. Without both the design firm would have a tough time.
    from your article:
    “A major opportunity exists in designing products for Asian manufacturers for the North American and European markets. Attending consumer electronic and consumer product trade shows in the Far East is one way to reach new clients. While local design talent may be cost effective, Asian manufacturers are limited by their lack of exposure to the American consumer and the American market. This experience is a significant advantage for American design firms”
    A number of US manufacturers have supplemented or replaced their domestic production with production in Asia. What they retain is their brand and design functions.
    There are also independent importers and designers doing this sort of thing, though they tend to focus on one product or product line.
    I think there’s still a lot of untapped opportunity here and also to revive brands and spread them to mainstream retailers.

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