"Good design is good business."
Those words, spoken by IBM CEO Thomas Watson Jr. 50 years ago, underscore a core belief at our company: that good design can help people engage, and that helping people engage accelerates economic growth. Good design IS good business. The designs of our products, buildings, and even the logo were crafted to reflect what our company stands for: trust, quality, innovation and engagement. Legendary designers Eliot Noyes, Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen, Paul Rand and many others helped us develop an iconic design esthetic that continues to resonate.
In the beginning, we used good design to demystify technology in a dubious, technically immature world. Today, the problem is different, but no less acute.
With the rise of the software-defined world, the Internet, mobile technology and social media, most design innovation is reflected in consumer, not business, applications. These consumer technologies are percolating throughout the corporate organization, but they aren't necessarily fit-for-purpose, nor do they cover the vastly more complex solution requirements of the enterprise. So while user expectations are raised by consumer technologies, their needs aren't met. This is our challenge and our opportunity.
Enter IBM Design Thinking, a broad, ambitious new approach to re-imagining how we design our enterprise software and custom solutions. Quite simply, our goal -- on a scale unmatched in the industry -- is to redesign the enterprise software experience. Enterprise software shouldn't be engineered just to get a task done. It should be thoughtfully designed, with the focus clearly on the people who use it day in and day out, whether those people are end-users, developers or administrators. It should deliver on those enduring values of IBM Design: trust, quality, innovation and engagement -- across a global spectrum of needs and desires.
Enterprise software needs to be designed to work within the bigger enterprise system. That's a much bigger thought than visual consistency: it needs to work consistently across capabilities so that people can share their experience more easily. And most importantly, it should help employees get home a little earlier or make their job a little easier. I know I want to use tools that seem like they were built specially for me; I expect we all do.
And so these three tenets become the basis for a new era of design for us. We envision a portfolio of software-based products and custom solutions that:
- Works together
- Works the same
- Works for me
We live in what some call a "sharing economy." Therefore, now more than ever, technology and people have to work together. Software -- and the computers, tablets, and smartphones that run on it -- is driving nearly every task we tackle, whether it's some administrative task, scheduling an event or how we share ideas. Because of the ubiquity of all this, and because our work and personal lives are so intertwined we have to design systems that engage with humans across experiences in ways unimaginable as recently as six years ago.
And if we do?
Then doctors and nurses can get the most out of the apps built on IBM's Watson system that collect massive streams of data, including patient records, clinician notes, and test results, to identify missing pieces of data and possible tests, and suggest different treatment options for patients.
Or a group of employees stuck on a project and on deadline can rely on being able to navigate an internal collaborative network to pinpoint the colleagues with precisely the expertise they need, even if they're half way across the world.
Or technicians working on consumer's cable box or a sensor network in a river or 3D printing facility can find exactly the right information when they need it to get the job done there and then.
To underpin this recommitment to product design we are training our employees and recruiting more top design talent from industry and leading design programs, including d.school: Institute of Design at Stanford University, Rhode Island School of Design, Carnegie Mellon University, and Savannah College of Art & Design.
And yesterday, we unveiled the first phase of a new 50,000-square foot product design studio in Austin, Texas that will serve as a hub for this effort. And, to weave this new approach throughout the company, we're conducting Designcamp: an intensive, experiential workshop for our product teams and executives. Hundreds of our employees from around the world have already attended.
Design excellence is part of our DNA. Today, we are building on that legacy. We are committed to re-imagining enterprise software and delivering a portfolio of products and custom solutions that reflect the deep design required for the modern world; design that fosters human engagement and therefore, we think, human advancement.