In the outskirts of Musanze, in northern Rwanda, mattresses have become a tool for female empowerment, family security, and social change. Hilarie, a softspoken farmer, mother, and wife, is the mastermind behind this association and has become a figurehead of change in her village and over 30 others in the region because of it. How Hilarie became a purveyor of mattresses for social change offers some fascinating insights about human behavior, community dynamics and… financial services.
Yes, financial services. Specifically, the challenge of financial inclusion—bringing financial services to the poor for the purpose of improving their lives. This is one challenge that resists easy scaling across markets. If a solution devised by a bank, mobile operator, or other financial services player achieves some level of success in one market, it's highly doubtful that the same idea will work in other markets. The always-cited example of this is Safaricom's highly successful M-Pesa mobile money platform in Kenya; no other mobile money service in the world has had even close to the same level of success.
Roberta Tassi is a senior design researcher and interaction designer at frog Milan, with a deep background in information visualization and communication design.
While working on her graduation thesis—exploring the interconnections between Communication and Service Design—Tassi developed Service Design Tools, a website that gathers visualizations used to support design processes. The collection was created with the idea of sharing her research within the design community, and so far it has caught the attention of both academic and industry insiders. Yet, Tassi warns these tools are meant to inspire, not act as one-size-fits-all solution.
Tell us a little bit about Service Design Tools.
I put together this web platform called Service Design Tools in 2009, and I still manage it today. After published, it has immediately become a sort of reference point within the service design community, it's an organized catalogue of tools and examples that professionals can use to support their design activities day-by-day. It can be browsed in different ways, according to specific communication purposes, and it's conceived as an open platform: I still receive a lot of examples of new tools, keeping the collection growing in time.
Why are visualizations specifically crucial in service design?
When we speak about a service or a system, an ecosystem or concept, they are a lot of times abstract things. Visual representation is a way to make them more tangible, and so, sharable.
The same is when we deal with research outcomes, usually there is the need to translate them into meaningful insights and frameworks to inform the design process, establishing a foundation for all the following activities. And visualization again can be really helpful, to turn information and data into usable materials.
As the exchange of personal data becomes a lynchpin of the modern business model, mobile operators are confronted with new challenges and opportunities. At frog, we’re working with mobile operators on the challenges and opportunities in a world where a richer personal data stream is opening unprecedented possibilities for creating value. This article explores the why behind the market’s development and how operators can use Leverage, Risk, Scale, and Tangibility to evaluate opportunities to create value from personal data.
Personal data is the root of the next-gen business model
Twenty years ago, nobody imagined creating revenue from personal data. But a number of factors—the rise of the Internet, globalization of workforces, heightened access to capital, and a strong entrepreneurial spirit—changed all that by opening the way to rapid social and technological growth. Enter Google, Facebook, Twitter, and a whole new era in the sharing and consumption of information (read: data). All of these business models were predicated on the notion that if you can create a service cheaply and then offer it for free to establish a large user base, value would follow. And it has, mostly in the form of personal data monetization.
Now, by the time you read this, a huge trail of data will have been generated. Nearly everything we do in our daily routes—from checking email to buying coffee or driving to work—leaves distinct trails of data exhaust that describe who we are, what we do, and how we spend our resources. Today, your morning coffee not only gives you a buzz but also generates a rich personal data stream that can be logged, tracked, shared, and monetized.
This is an excerpt from from my new book, Success by Design: The Essential Business Reference for Designers, out now from HOW Books.
Culture is everything people in a design business do that supports the process of making work happen. Culture can create joy for designers, while improvements in process can facilitate profit. A common misperception is that culture emerges organically based on the decisions of a business owner or CEO. But a design studio’s culture is not created solely by those at the top. For a design-led business, culture is generated from ongoing contributions and discoveries from both studio owners and employees.
In researching my recent book on how design businesses can be more successful, I began to see important building blocks that were present in the most successful studios. These building blocks are divided into two groups: hard building blocks and soft building blocks. Hard building blocks are realized through a budget, meaning that you can allocate money and time for them as part of business overhead. The soft building blocks can be created through the decisions employees make over the course of their daily work, life and play (with less material investment by the owners).
A healthy studio culture draws equally from both types of building blocks. They provide emotional and material stability to employees in the face of ongoing work challenges, and often clients, family and the general public perceive them as ingredients of the company’s brand. These building blocks are equally present within design firms and in-house design teams—though for the latter, the composition of some building blocks may be heavily influenced by the company's overall behavior and needs.
Let’s take a deep dive into these building blocks, with important questions to ask yourself (and your team) in order to create a strong studio culture.
For more than fifty years, Salone del Mobile has drawn design enthusiasts to Milan each April—growing from festival to promote Italian furniture for the export market into one of the world’s premiere design events.
“From Tuesday to Sunday, the city comes alive with all sorts of madness,” Executive Creative Director Fabio Sergio explained ahead of this year’s festival. “It’s not just about the furniture showcase but what is happening informally in showrooms across the city as companies and designers showcase what is happening within design.”
This year, frog’s Milan studio opened its doors for two nights of intimate and insightful events.
New developments in connectivity and monitoring are shifting an industry traditionally defined by incremental change.
The world of healthcare has traditionally been characterized by incremental innovations and a deep-rooted aversion to risk. But the healthcare realm is undergoing a quiet revolution, spurred by new developments in Big Data collection, by the growing presence of wearable sensors and related bodymonitoring equipment, and by increased connectivity between the people formerly known as patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals, often thanks to the widespread adoption of mobile technologies.
Approaching a problem with a design mindset is a craft—a way of working that may seem effortless, or even second nature, to a master craftsman, but can prove very hard indeed for a novice. And, like all crafts, it is something you learn by doing rather than by knowing. You can read all about “Design Thinking,” or other user-centric approaches, but it is only when you start to do them, to apply them, and to practice them that you start on the journey to becoming a master craftsman. As a result, these methodologies don’t really lend themselves to classic corporate education seminars. You can learn what they are in a seminar but not how to apply them. Such methodologies do not easily fit into a traditional school curriculum either. Though core curriculum standards are beginning to value twenty-first century skills, such as collaboration and creative problem solving, it is not obvious how a school might integrate the design-mindset into students’ schedules. It’s creative but it’s not “art”; it involves problem solving but it’s not math. So, if design-centric thinking is the future, and schools are not adopting it, how and where might we teach it?
Museums are a great place to start. They aren’t constrained by curriculum, they are environments that celebrate innovation and creativity, and they are often dealing with groups of students looking for an interactive experience.
Download Mobile Ecosystems Evolving
Mobile technology is more than the sum of the world’s portable electronic devices and the supporting telecommunications infrastructure.
Unlike earlier versions of the Internet, the mobile Web is a halo of information that follows us almost everywhere, an increasingly meaningful part of our most minute interactions with the physical world. It is an infinitely complex, dynamic system fed by billions of users and a growing variety of hardware and software programs that generate, transmit, and structure data.
These continuous streams of data are already transforming business on many fronts. How can improved user experience design make the vast trove of data more useful? What role does hardware play in the new digital ecosystems? And as the mobile Web continues to evolve, how will we prefer to interact with it?
frog explored these questions over the course of several weeks in our recent web series, Mobile Ecosystems Evolving. From healthcare, to retail, to enterprise—download the full collection of the insights and perspectives that were shared as we studied the future of mobile technology and its impact on diverse industries.
In today's age of hyper connectivity, data consumption and production will continue to grow at an inexorable pace especially in China and throughout Asia. Organizations will not only be challenged to manage, secure, and understand the data but also to create experiences that consumers find meaningful. With frog's Chief Creative Officer Mark Rolston, Executive Creative Director of Global Insights Jan Chipchase and Executive Creative Director Rainer Wessler, we will explore the notions of radical transparency, intimacy and authenticity that are pushing the boundaries of big data in Asia and enabling a new generation of change agents.
在当下的这个网络世界，数据正在以惊人的速度被生产、被消费。如何更好地管理、保护和理解这些大数据，将是未来几年里，我们所有人的重要工作之一。而其中最关键的，则是要让数据对消费者有价值。本次活动演讲嘉宾包括青蛙设计首席创意执行官Mark Rolston、全球视野洞察执行创意总监Jan Chipchase以及执行创意总监Rainer Wessler。届时，我们将与大家共同探索、搜寻，究竟有哪些开放透明真实的理念在整个亚洲范围内不断推进着大数据的变革。
Join frog at our "Rethinking Big Data" event, to be held at the SOHO Design Center on May 16.