By Gerhard Pfau
How would you reinvent product design on a global scale?
If you’re a 103-year-old company like IBM, which does business in over 170 countries around the world, this is no small task.
Adam Cutler, IBM Design Studio Director, explored this very topic in his post on this blog, “Building an Environment for Innovative Design,” where he showcased the opening of IBM’s design studio in Austin, Texas, last year.
At that lab, design practitioners tap into the expertise of IBM design thinking through an educational program we call Designcamp. But it’s a relatively small program, and if we were to send every IBMer to Austin for Designcamp, it would take decades.
It quickly became clear that we needed to scale design thinking at IBM and bring the creative practices of design to IBMers and our clients worldwide.
Now, with the opening of the IBM Design Studio in Boeblingen, Germany, we are ready to focus on bringing creativity directly to our local teams and clients.
We were inspired to bring IBM Design to Boeblingen when we were in Austin in November 2013, attending Designcamp. There, we saw the power of breaking through traditional methods of product development and envision the continuous reinvention of our company.
It became clear to us that we needed something similar back home in the IBM Germany Labs, to unify and accelerate our design efforts in pursuit of new innovations. We created the studio in only nine months – from initial brainstorming over prototyping to realization – including a three-month beta phase.
In Boeblingen we are working on solutions from mainframes to business process management, social software and cloud-based systems. Because of our close proximity to the auto industry, the machine manufacturing industry and major financial institutions (to name just a few), we have a close connection to our clients.
The new studio will enable designers and product teams to collaborate and identify synergies to design better technology solutions. We can involve users early in the design phase to jointly brainstorm with them to create solutions that will alter the client experience in both a powerful and fun way. And it already works, especially after an “ideation workshop” with digital natives on the topic of cloud-based systems.
Based on the experience gathered during the beta phase, we look forward to working in the studio with product managers, designers, engineers and clients to generate solutions that put the user front and center. And look for more local IBM design studios around the world to scale the practices and make IBM design thinking part of every IBMers’ DNA.