(Re)placing business design within data-driven company models

17 September 2020

The use and further processing of data is nothing new for companies, especially those that deal with end customers. Whenever customers enter a contractual relationship with a company, be it with insurance companies, banks, telecommunications companies or car dealers, data are transferred. These data have always been stored by companies and used for contact maintenance and customer care purposes within the context of the legal framework.

However, what is new is that the ongoing digitization of business processes is increasing the amount of data, and data is therefore becoming the focus of business model development in almost every company, whether in traditional established companies (brick and mortar) or pure digital ones.

Edging towards competitive advantage

In this context, it is becoming increasingly important – even a relevant competitive advantage – for companies to get an idea of what data means in a very specific company and industry context, and how data-based business models and services can address the needs of the target group and/or end customer.

This in turn creates new challenges for suppliers and service providers. A rethink is required, since established and traditional tools for approaching customers, be it in areas such as sales or account management, are no longer enough to address the special and increasingly complex needs of customers.

Is business design the answer?

A new occupational profile has emerged from this interaction in recent years: Business design. Business designers combine skills from the areas of strategy, innovation, design and communication. They purposely bring both worlds together by combining the entrepreneurial and economic perspectives in the development of new products and business models in a meaningful way, uniting these with the needs of the market and of potential users and/or end customers.

Interesting developments can be seen on the market in this context, because this is causing a steady increase in competition between the classic consulting and strategy companies on one hand, and the established design agencies on the other. Design agencies have to act more and more strategically and from the end customer’s perspective, while the classic consulting companies increasingly orient themselves in visualization and design topics, both in terms of their internal organization and set-up, but of course also in their projects and concerning customers.

Towards a fundamental shift in data-based business models

Wherever data pools and data sources are identified in large organizations, or data quality is part of the project mission and suitable strategies or even products must be developed from this, business designers can move in a highly technological environment and surround themselves with IT and data specialists whose main task is not necessarily to speak the customer’s language or even to translate it into suitable concepts. It is the job of the business designer to take on an important transfer function by being an integral part of a project or product team in all phases of the development process and continuously taking care of company-related and, above all, customer-centered processes.

Creating business value with business design

Business designers can make all the difference in product development by not simply evaluating and designing a new business model, but by arguing from the perspective of the end-customer. Business designers can be the drivers when it comes to developing the launch, sustainability and success of a product.
In an age of agility and disruption, business design can be the strongest partner of IT. Having a strong business design group and a flexible IT department (which is not only defined as a cost center) can lead to scalable business models, thus to the creation of new business value.

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