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Critical Role Of Chief Design Officer

Srini Srinivasan, Chairman & CEO of Lumium Design & President of World Design Organisation reminds how design is core to innovation & business outcomes at BW Businessworld Future of Design Summit & Awards 2019.

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The importance of design is prominent in people’s lives, and sustainability has become an important factor in this. As boundaries of design collapse, design communities are no longer just worried about industry but also about the user and the world itself, according to Srini Srinivasan, Chairman & CEO, Lumium Design & President, World Design Organisation (WDO).  

He reminded the WDO was focussed on industrial design, which can be defined as the strategic problem-solving process to drive innovation, build businesses success, and lead to a better quality of life.  

Quoting examples from the World Design Impact Prize, he explained how design-led solutions today were making a difference in solving problems such as malnutrition, health safety and waste reduction among others. 

Speaking at the BW Businessworld Future of Design Summit & Awards 2019, he asserted that design can be a tool for social good. He urged delegates at the forum to take note of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and contribute towards adopting them. He also cited the NITI Ayog, Dec 2018 report that details India’s progress on the UN identified SDGs and the fact that the road was still long.

The global landscape too according to Srinivasan is “complete chaos”. “Everyday known and unknown acts are contributing to this chaos,” he said. Whether it the rise of digital, its impact on entrepreneurs or in the creation of social platforms and so on, the rise of data, or how global markets are growing, and generations are colliding with each other, each present opportunity and challenges. 

Innovation and design go hand in hand for Srinivasan. He said, “Innovation uses creativity to solve a problem. It also involves bringing something new to the market.” 

He asserted that businesses that invest in research and innovation or are spending on design, show significantly higher rewards. He added, “They have an edge over their competition. There are several examples linking good design to better business outcomes.” 

The factors of innovation – whether it is business, technology or human values – all have design innovation at the core. 

“The position of the chief design officers is more critical today than ever. Once they did not even exist; today designers are entering the boardroom and are at the forefront,” informed Srinivasan. 

Businesses are adopting design-driven solutions for innovative thinking, differentiation, reaching audiences in unique ways, gaining an edge over the competition and applying creative business processes.  

The innovation age comes with a set of challenges beginning with identifying the opportunities that digital, physical and biotech are bringing. There also are job losses in manufacturing and service. Artificial intelligence (AI) and a high volume of data are on the rise and small startups can upset large established businesses. 

The key drivers in this backdrop use technology better in day-to-day life. It is seeing the merging of culture, technology and economics, putting traditional business setups at great inconvenience.

Srinivasan lists a host of trends that are shaping the future. First in this list is the demise of apps as we know it due to the rise in voice technology. He also sees a future where luxury is for everyone. Big data will behave more predictably. Micro-moments will increase. Governance will be made digital. Heath is new wealth. The likes of augmented reality and virtual reality is finally in play. Simplicity in design and usage will continue to win and design thinking will come in-house more and more. 

Designers’ challenge in this future will be to stay relevant and bring more to the table. “Gone are the days when it was enough to give a form to an idea. Designers need to create relevant, impactful and authentic, products, brands and services. The future of design is a mix of functionality, convenience, fun and pleasure.  

Srinivasan was speaking at the second edition of the BW Businessworld Future of Design Summit & Awards 2019, held in Mumbai on October 17, 2019.