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Future is where design meets data

The essential rule of good decision-making is to know two things: what is going on and how to react to it. Depending on their data maturity, many customer-centric and data-driven organizations are working on both, yet often acting as though they were separable. As a result, their full potential and competitiveness are lost. What if we stopped following patterns, started looking forward instead of backward, and let design shake hands with data?

In 1973, IBM's Watson Jr. famously said, "Good design is a good business". Many years later, it became clear that design-centric companies are outperforming their competitors*. On top of that, organizations are now enhancing their capabilities by integrating design with data.

We believe that data & design will be at the core of future-proof companies. It will improve both employee experience as well as customer experience. To succeed in this in the future, organizations must improve data maturity and capabilities.

Building data capabilities At Futurice, we help our partners on building data capabilities (read more on VR project), improving existing operations (read more on FIRA collaboration) as well as creating business models through new products and services.

How to combine design and data

The process is firstly a cultural transition into an agile company with operations based on a data strategy and making the data visible and accessible for everyone in it. Secondly, both your internal teams and external partners need clear data guidelines for future data quality & compatibility. Thirdly, form multi-disciplinary and data-inspired teams for growth and give them enough support.

After the business objective is clear to everyone, a good starting point is to explore what kind of data is currently available (owned/bought or open data) and proceed from there. Meanwhile, the team enriches the data with qualitative insights from end-user behavior.

Both data scientists and designers should work in harmony. One case could be simply improving an existing service through data. designers must also learn to think in new ways, such as imagining the product if a particular data would be available and then create a service to collect the data, which would bring a competitive edge in the future market. Meanwhile, Data scientists should expand their skills with design methodologies, and for example, work together with designers to create more predictive and prescriptive features for services. Below are some more designer + data scientist collaboration examples from our data meets design thinking webinar (view the webinar from here on demand - registration required)

Design thinking loves data

The team should always start their work by first identifying the most urgent problem and solving it with agile design practices. If your company is new to design thinking, you can get started by downloading our Lean Service Creation Handbook and canvases. To get started with future work, check out our updated Lean Futures Creation Toolkit.

Data scientists, designers and business representatives must work as a team, concentrate on the goal and help each other. Synergy is everything! The development then runs in a continuous circle of creating hypotheses, designing and running tests, and analyzing the results and iterating the solutions. Also, harness growth hacking, for example, conversion optimization, marketing automation and omnichannel, to support the development processes.

Start small and go bigger in accordance with the results. Explore, discover, innovate and, most of all, enjoy your journey, and the results will speak for themselves. You'll see how your work becomes easier, more inspiring and rewarding. A connected and experimental company, in which design meets data, flourishes in R&D, services, production, sales, marketing and in everything it does.

At Futurice, we are ready to help with your transition into a data embracing and design-savvy organization.

Annina Antinranta Principal designer, Emerging Business

Korhan Buyukdemirci Principal Consultant, Strategic Design

Stay tuned! In our next blog post, we'll shed light on the working process between designer and data scientist in the context of Futurice Exponential, our program that researches and develops technologies and solutions which aim to create ultimate connected companies.


  • Portrait of Annina Antinranta
    Annina Antinranta
    Principal Designer - Emerging Business
  • Portrait of Korhan Buyukdemirci
    Korhan Buyukdemirci
    Principal Consultant, Strategic Design