Digital Trend & Solutions

Where is Design Thinking going? An initial analysis of active Start-ups in the sector

If an analysis of businesses within a sector provides a roadmap of their competitive dynamics, often, an analysis of Start-ups helps to understand how such dynamics will evolve over time. In other words, for this reason the Design Thinking for Business Observatory not only examines companies’ various applications of Design Thinking but also studies what happens in the world of Start-ups that offer support services to Design Thinking processes. As regards the latter, and based on the principle “follow the money” – that is, understanding Start-ups on which most investments are concentrated – several different evolution directions are emerging.

One of the areas of greater interest appears to be collaborative “product management” platforms; meaning virtual spaces where employees and external collaborators can: (1) flexibly share their knowledge for the development of a new product; (2 )share score-cards on product target parameters; (3) include first responses from customers and comment them in real/time. An example is Productboard, a Start-up that has already collected 1.7 million dollars from private investors.

Financial investors also seem to be attracted by the world of digital applications with which to support a sub-phase or specific task of the Design Thinking process. Wrkbench, for example, supports brainstorming activities through interactive boards, viewings and the possibility of sharing notes, videos, comments as if people were operating in a common physical meeting room.
New entrepreneurial sentiment analysis initiatives seem to be gaining appeal in the eyes of private investors, as they attempt to “feel” potential clients’ soft reactions, capturing the impact that new products and services have on people’s emotions and behaviours. An example of this is MYChannel, that promises to “measure user’s emotions/feelings” allowing them to freely express themselves using emoticons, chats, comments, notes and suggestions and additionally supported by wish or sentiment measurements when applicable, or other parameters revealing the emotional reaction to whatever we are faced with.

Further to these examples, what is emerging and will very likely set the new frontier of Design Thinking, is not so much digitalizing some activities or processes, but rather their being “reduced” to “applications”. Are we moving towards a world where innovation managers will manage application portfolios that support innovative processes? Can we discern a trend where the design innovation process is transferred on the personal devices of single individuals to be accessed if and when they deem appropriate?
It is on the answers to these questions that the Observatory will focus over upcoming months.

by Cabirio Cautela, Luca Gastaldi, Stefano Magistretti, Design Thinking for Business Observatory

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