The Internet created new opportunities and it is still driven by technological developments. It enables everything and everyone to become part of the “large machine” that Kevin Kelly (Kelly, 2007) described. Looking from that perspective, the world has got smaller and denser. It is comparable with a local market that is offering an unlimited amount of products and is highly competitive. Unfortunately, most markets are saturated and innovation is often incremental rather than disruptive. It leads me to the question “how does new product development needs to change to benefit from todays connectivity and in the end stimulate disruptive market innovation”.
According to my research and own experience the problem with the user- centered design approach, taught at design schools, and the starting point of many design teams, is the perspective the team has during user research. In my opinion, they are too close to the user when researching and defining the project scope. Most often, old product-contexts are researched without questioning the relevance of the new product generation, instead of starting a conventional user research based process. In terms of disruptive innovation, I find it more reasonable to research the spaces between industries and reinvent their relationships. Indeed, the Internet makes the market denser but at the same time enables new spaces in which to innovate the relationships between people, “stuff” and industries. That offers opportunities, especially for systems that bridge the spaces and create the potential for new markets.
A holistic view of the world and the understanding of potential relations between industries are needed to spot the space for opportunities to reinvent a market and disrupt an old market. It is more important to start from the very beginning of the design process, questioning the existence of products and markets in the era of the Internet. The success of new online media companies has shown, that giving control to users can enrich a system and keep it up-to- date simply because customers can actually change the meaning of the product according to their demands, whereas the user-centered design process often ends up designing an “experience destination”. Design in the era of the Internet is about designing the infrastructure for crowd sourced product-value rather than developing an unchangeable end-product. Design thereby becomes a strategy to guide and support users to do the actual design work. The difficulty is not to get the right size or color of a button but how the system is interfacing and engaging user groups and their needs.
Yet, further research needs to be done to develop the actual design tools that help a design team frame the research and create a system design. In my dissertation, I pinpointed the variety of possibilities and relationships which the Internet offers. These are touching points and building blocks that have to be assembled correctly according to the core value proposition of the system. Furthermore, another aspect that needs future investigation is the design process in general. Due to the tremendous pace of changes in the different industries and their markets, the concept of a flexible design process needs to be developed in order to handle the changing vicissitudes of markets. The first step could be to look at an overlaying design process. A process in which single design stages are running parallel to each other, rather than following linearly on from each other and being divided by gateways.
Kelly, K. (2007). Predicting the next 5,000 days of the web. Retrieved 09 15, 2012, from Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDYCf4ONh5M