Integrating Data and Design

Integrating Data and Design

Integrating Data and Design thinking not only creates user centric products and services but also improve the business processes.When companies look to connect different and disparate ideas then they invariably achieve success.This is because diversity of perspectives foster fresh thinking to solve tough problems.

Data is important because they provide facts to the decision makers so that they can make the right decisions.Recent advances in AI and analytics have further increased the importance of how data can be leveraged by the management from hiring to product development to customer engagement.

Companies like Apple and Google have demonstrated the importance of design thinking by driving higher revenues and customer satisfaction.These companies harness qualitative insights, creativity and relentless focus on end user needs to achieve product and service innovation.In order to knit together Data and Design more effectively, companies need to move from silos to squads approach, from disconnected workflows to deep synchronicity skills and from product innovation to operations wide use.

The most effective integration of design is through the assembly of squads that include both data experts and designers who work together in same engagements.These squads understand the business problem, identify and prioritize potential solutions, develop the business case and then build prototypes.Once the organization is ready to build and implement a solution, these squads can be integrated into an agile development team in order to implement the solutions.

These squads combine the best of both the worlds – deep qualitative insights around motivations, attitudes and business processes and strong quantitative insights from data.

For instance, a bank can have both design and data teams work together to identify issues affecting customer experience and then taking steps to resolve the problem. When a bank has lot of its customers coming to the branch to check for account balances the data team can identify the trends from the datasets and the design teams can validate this trend as they get inputs from customers.Combining the inputs from data and design team, the bank can take a decision to create an app for customers to get details on account balances.This can allow the bank managers to focus on relationships building.

Having squads of data and design teams working together can help facilitate the development of cross functional knowledge by training their data scientists to understand how design research is done and conversely enabling the designers to gain an inside view of the work of data scientists to better realize how data is harnessed.This knowledge building can happen either via formal workshops or via on the job training.

In most of the projects, data and design work together similar to a relay race fashion with each team passing on the baton to the next once their lap is completed. Design teams are engaged to offer an user centric perspective – for example to perform ethnographic interviews or design an user interface.Once they finish their work, they move on to the next project.They submit a report with recommendations to the data team.This relay race approach will not work when evaluating a business challenge in the larger context that requires novel solutions.

To solve a specific business challenge, whether it is around product innovation, digital transformation or operational efficiency, teams need to work keeping the larger context in mind – how the challenge sits within a process and how the process fits within the organization. In order to broaden the line of sight, data and design teams must work in a synchronized fashion where data and design teams share their perspectives and actively apply their skills across all facets of the project lifecycle.This intermingling of ideas and expertise between the data and design teams can vastly improve the business results.

Companies often turn to design teams for product innovation and product development while they turn to data teams to improve the business processes. Integrating both design and data in business process improvements or redesign can deliver superior results.

Final Takeaway

Institutional silos, disconnected workflows and misconceptions of design as primarily an innovation and product development framework can prevent one from reaping rewards of the value that integrating data and design can deliver together.Digital natives have merged data and design teams as natural evolution of their culture.This facilitate diverse approaches which deliver superior results.