Better Business Conference Review
by Mitchel Ahern
VP Marketing, Cantina
“Businesses have always employed designers to improve the look and feel of products and experiences, but we are now seeing design thinking happening sooner, and more deeply integrated into an organization’s products and services.”
At Cantina we’re seeing design considerations steering technology choices in new ways that speed development, increase iterations and increase roadmap flexibility. Design Museum Boston (DMB), a distributed museum, is running their most recent exhibition, Better Business By Design, at the The Innovation & Design Building in the Seaport District. I attended both the opening and the Better Business Conference held there last week. The exhibit and event provided insight into the impact design is having on business, and illustrate different aspects of how design principles are being applied to businesses, spaces and products.
The exhibit itself is a series of illustrated case studies, which included models, mock-ups and even a demo robot. Overall, the case studies can be summarized as “paying attention to design is good business,” and that point is made through narrative, comparison and a big chart pointing up how much better design-centric business shares perform over the market average.
On Wednesday, August 6th DMB expanded their brief to host their first miniconf at the Better Business by Design exhibit. It was a success. Presenters from Mad*Pow, Preserve, Communispace, Digitas and Essential each gave a short talk expanding on their particular piece of the show. There was something for anyone interested in business design-related topics. For me the two stand-out sessions were Eric Hudson’s explanation of what Preserve is up to, and Richard Watson from Essential discussing their product design process as evidenced by work they did for iRobot.
It was hard not to be infected with Eric Hudson’s enthusiasm about recycling #5 plastics, the material yogurt containers are generally made from. His presentation was equal parts business, environmentalism and practical design. Everyone got a Preserve toothbrush, which I’m happy to report does the job splendidly.
I was also very happy to see Richard Watson, Partner and Co-Founder of Essential, describe their approach to product design as applied to work they did on iRobot’s Roomba. They evolved three new Roomba variations by focusing on brand, user experience and platform opportunities. By using an iterative design process they were able to quickly create three differentiated sub-brands to hit three different price points, without altering the underlying technology platform.
I liked the miniconf format. Presenting a lot of good content in one afternoon session achieved a nice balance of learning and networking while still leaving an open chunk of the day for getting things done, and an after-party to unwind. Looking forward to the next one!
– Mitchel Ahern
Eric Hudson- Founder & CEO, Preserve
Michael Tiedemann- SVP Creative Director, Digitas
Melanie Seaborn- SVP of Services Design & Innovation, Communispace
More videos from the Better Business Conference coming soon!