No matter what industry you’re working in, if your business sells services, your ultimate goal is making your customers happy. At Virgin, we have always found that our front-line employees play a big role in that, with their cheerfulness, patience, resourcefulness, and dedication to listening to customers. But no matter how good they are, your staff will need you to set the stage for a great customer experience with good design — by providing a space that you, your employees and your customers love to be in. A well-designed space immediately says that you care about the details and that you want to contribute something fun and meaningful to your customers’ lives — proper design for business interiors will help customers to relax and talk about what they’re looking for. We learned this accidentally, and early on — at our first storefront, in fact.Our first Virgin Records store in London, which opened in 1971, was essentially a place for us to listen to music and meet new friends. It featured listening stations where customers could play records before buying them and beanbag chairs so that everyone could hang out. From that experience, my friends and I realized how important it was to create inviting, unique spaces of business design that bring people together to discuss what they are passionate about: music, mobile apps, travel, even banking.
Every new business or new product initially starts as an idea. An idea that the owner(s) of it hope can become successful. Unfortunately the statistics don’t show promising news with up to 95% of new products failing each year and reports stating (depending on the country) that anywhere between 50 – 90% of new businesses fail in their first four years. There are a number of causes attributed to these failures including, but not limited to, problems with cash flow, poor marketing campaigns, inadequate competitor analysis, unsatisfactory products and poor understanding of customer needs. Focusing on the last two problem areas, I will show how following a process called ‘Design Thinking For Business’ can help to identify and increase understanding of potential customer’s explicit and latent needs and in turn increase the likelihood that a new product introduced into the market will add value and fulfill those customer’s needs. SME’s, where the majority can be characterized as having a lack of available funds and resources when it comes to new service or product development, are under increasing pressure and financial strain, especially in the current economic climate, to deliver successful innovations. Following the Design Thinking Methodology, for the purposes explained above, can be a viable and less expensive option for SME’s than alternatives which can include hiring a consultant or simply introducing a new product and hoping that a good sized share of the market will purchase it.
In another very basic dimension the “marriage” of design and entrepreneurship today, is becoming a well-promising challenge with the strong involvement of educational institutions:
In an exciting new initiative, the Greenwich Peninsula, home to the O2, to Ravensbourne and to an emerging new business and residential community, is embarking on a collaborative association with one of the world’s leading educational institutions: Cambridge University. Through a series of virtual and physical events and a mentor scheme, the initiative aims to marry design and entrepreneurship from an early stage, and to the highest level of excellence. The Accelerate Cambridge entrepreneurship-focused program, belonging to Cambridge University’s Judge Business School, will collaborate with the entire Greenwich Digital Peninsula, but particularly the Digital Design Enterprise Greenwich Center led by Greenwich Council. This collaboration has design at its very heart. Entrepreneurs and business school alumni who are at the business development stage of their education will be ‘buddied’ with design innovators working at the cutting edge of their field. Judge Business School, Ravensbourne and the Greenwich Peninsula were originally connected via the Cisco National Virtual Incubator, through which their key stakeholders were able to explore shared thinking around the importance of design in business. It is when education offers knowledge as design thinking meets business thinking