Written By

Andy Van Solkema

 

Written By

Andy Van Solkema

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April 11, 2017

Recently, OST and Visualhero were delighted to host John Maeda in our studios to discuss his research around the growing overlap of design and technology. As you can imagine, this is a common topic around our company, especially since Visualhero’s acquisition last year.

First, a bit of background on John Maeda. In the design community, he’s a thought leader on the convergence of design, business, and technology. Through his involvement in the MIT Media Lab, tenure as President of Rhode Island School of Design, and Partner of Venture firm KPCB, Maeda has spent his career at the center of all three. He is an active thought leader within the design community with numerous books, TedX talks, online content and appearances, and now leads design at Automattic (WordPress.org). He is also known for his yearly Design in Tech Report, which is a collection of data and insights from the industry (including contributions from leaders at Visualhero) that acts as a guide for design and tech industries across the world. Last Thursday, John presented the findings from this year’s report in Grand Rapids as part of West Michigan Design Week.

Before his keynote talk, John spent time with the OST and Visualhero team to discuss the impact design and technology have made in the product-centric Midwest and beyond. A few important themes stuck with me long after our conversation was over.

Bring relevancy

Within the changing landscape of technology, Maeda highlighted that one of our duties as consultants is to be an important, relevant resource for our clients. As technology and design practitioners, we live within this growing overlap every day and while our customers may see through the lens of a single project or initiative, our experience allows us to connect programs, initiatives and practices to create wide-spread, comprehensive innovation and transformation. We have a tremendous opportunity to leverage our understanding of the full enterprise value chain evolution to be an incredible resource for our clients, both here in the Midwest and abroad. He commended us for using our experience, expertise, and enthusiasm to connect patterns across industries and create new service offerings and value from design through to data center.

Lean In from all perspectives

John was also joined by Kelly and Mark, two of his colleagues from Automattic. As part of a design and technology team, they talked a lot about inclusion and cross-discipline product development. This is a timely topic for us at OST, as we continue to see projects that require cross-discipline teams. Through our discussion, we arrived at a simple consensus that designers, developers, and business collaborators from a variety of backgrounds must lean in, complement each other, and learn together. Evolving our collective crafts, creating new expertise, and exploring new ways of thinking is the key to success for organizations. This is further illustrated in the Design In Tech Report section on diversity and inclusion as a crucial tool for new value creation.

Hands on activation and transformation

We also spoke about how activating our collective offerings with our customers requires a mindset shift within our organization and our customers. When we bring all of our services to the table, we can truly empower customers who are looking to lead strategic growth efforts across their business. Through hands on delivery of technology and experiences for both clients and our own initiatives, we are constantly learning and applying those learnings. Demonstrated collaboration and curiosity allows for new ways to inform creation, transformation, and implementation. One of John’s last comments was the opportunity OST brings for this evolving space: “You are activating so many parts of your customer’s businesses.”

We like to think so too.

Thanks for the visit, John, Kelly, and Mark!

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About the Author

Andy is VP of Digital Strategy and Experience at OST. He is responsible for the practice, vision and integration of design services while infusing human-centered design expertise with OST’s strong technology experience. Prior to OST, Andy founded Visualhero. In 2016 Visualhero was acquired by OST and continues as a midwestern based experience design studio. Visualhero offers a systems approach to creative problem solving by helping organizations take insights and ideas to action.