By Phil Guido
The term “starving artist” might become obsolete if the current trends in technology keep advancing. Just look at the device you’re likely using to view this blog and you’ll notice a carefully-crafted piece of high design. Sure, it’s great technology inside but how you make that technology accessible and easy to use has increasingly fallen to the visual artists/designers.
The trend of technology and design coming together isn’t necessarily novel, but what is new is design moving beyond consumer devices into the systems and infrastructure behind SmarterCities, businesses, and industries. As consumers, we’ve become accustomed to the ease of use and intuitive nature of the applications we use. Now, those same requirements are making their way into the workplace and other aspects of our daily life. Also, good design can help inspire breakthroughs in engineering and science.
A good example is the team of digital IBM designers and technologists who worked directly with Boston Children’s Hospital to globalize their pediatric critical care expertise via an application called OPENPediatrics.
The application equips doctors and nurses with the knowledge and skills they need to save children’s lives during intensive care situations. It’s design is unique: OPENPediatrics trains medical professionals using an on-demand, interactive, digital and social learning experience, equipping them to perform life-saving procedures and treatments for children who would not otherwise have access to intensive care.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that graphic design jobs are expected to expand by 13% by 2018. I’d argue that these estimates might be low as they were done pre-2008 before this recent uptick in demand for design skills. For example, take a look at the recent moves by some venture capital firms to bring designers on board to help the firms they invest in infuse design into their engineering process.
IBM is investing in design to continuously transform the products and solutions we bring to our clients. Just last week, for example, we announced a new design studio in Austin, Texas, where our designers, software engineers and product managers will collaborate as part of a company-wide effort to revolutionize how users interact with software.
We are also investing in design skills and cultivating the next generation of designers. This morning, I had a chance to meet with students at the School for Visual Arts in New York City as part of an IBM mentor session on the intersection of design and technology. Some of the students are studying design for social media innovation and the role design can play in bringing a collaborative social environment to businesses and industries. As part of their course work, many of the students work with foundations and local community organizations on design projects to advance their causes.
What we’ve learned at IBM from experiences like this is that technology advances – such as using analytics and cloud to gain insights from the massive amount of data in today’s interconnected world – will dramatically change how we live, work, and play. But these dramatic changes require pairing design artistry with disruptive technology.
This means new ways of thinking about jobs of the future and increasing collaboration between educational institutions and technology firms. Mentorship is one great way to help increase this collaboration as we experienced with the School for Visual Arts and many other leading institutions around the world.
Together, we can re-imagine curriculum and the workforce of the future.