Design-Led Business Transformation


Guest Blog post by Roy Sharples, Principal, Enterprise Strategy Services, Microsoft Corporation and Fred Warren, Lead Architect, Office of CTO, Microsoft UK

Putting people and culture right at the center of the experience

We have always identified with the way “outsiders” and maverick designers thought about the world around them and the inhabitants within it. We admire they go about solving problems and/or see new opportunities by creating new innovative experiences, products, and/or services  that have a deep connection by putting people and culture right at the center of the design.  In many cases, it may be said that the more you build solutions in this spirit, the higher probability that they’ll be a sustainable success.

A resounding example of this of is the famous Fallingwater house by Frank Lloyd Wright, designed in 1935. The house remains one of the most visited houses in the world. In terms of approach, Frank spoke to the clients beforehand and asked them what they wanted. They said they wanted a house that was part of the country. Perhaps they expected a house looking at the waterfall? What the design gave them was a house over the waterfall. It really made the house part of the country. Inside the house, you constantly hear the waterfall. It is a part of the experience of the house.  He knew deeply the needs of his client and delivered a vision, and ultimately a solution, that met those needs.  The functional, but beautiful, design remains an inspiration today. It still retains its beauty and is timeless!

Of course, design is always subject to personal taste, though arguably great designers tend to share a common set of values that inspire innovation and creativity, resulting in customer-centric solutions that often endure. This can be pinned to creativity, being bold and brave, thinking from the outside, inside, top, bottom and sideways, a high degree of collaborative, or an intense focus on the customer experience.

Applying this thinking and practice to the enterprise, we’re increasingly seeing more and more customers move towards this approach, specifically related to how they differentiate themselves from their competition and create new market space. Business and technology leaders have opportunities in these two realms to contribute to design-led business transformation:

Competitive differentiation

  • In-depth identification of the intangible qualities of competitors and how those qualities create an experience aligned to a brand proposition as a part of an overall brand architecture. 
  • Decompose competitive threats from existing competition, new entrants, substitutes or changes to market conditions beyond accepted understanding, traditional market research or financial comparison will help refine the potential areas for differentiation.

New market space

  • Deeply understand the needs, wants and desires of consumers outside of the focused set of existing products or services.
  • Explore the potential products or services that can reshape the market norms.

To capitalize on these opportunities, our customers are asking us for a complete and mission relevant engagement

The Microsoft approach is geared towards improving traditional sequential delivery models in terms of the quality and impact of the output, as well as reducing the overall time that would have been spent to achieve similar results using another method. This means helping co-create new value with our clients, improving our strategic relevance, and accelerating the deployment of initiatives using our technology in a manner that ensures a more sustained and substantial engagement. We identify and define previously undiscovered and often surprising opportunities for our clients, such as new market space or direct differentiation.

By looking at the problem from a business concept, technology concept and experience concept design point of view, it’s at the point of convergence between these that we find the breakthrough potential, helping get the organizational values, balance and structure right to better foster continuous transformation. We use the term ‘design’ because it encompasses intentional outcome and ambition, applied creativity (innovation) and experimentation, research and prototyping, aesthetics and human response, and market and business response.

Approach for Design-Led Business Transformation

Microsoft is expert at undertaking complex challenges and bringing clarity to define simple, elegant and valuable solutions, through proven multi-disciplinary approach, removal of inefficiencies and costly rework of sequential research and analysis models. We use unique insight and experience with an unparalleled technology portfolio.  Learn more by visiting the Enterprise Strategy website  or email to speak to us directly.

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