They are saying that 2016 was the year that changed everything. From Britain deciding to leave Europe. To the surprise result in the US Presidential Election. In Design things changed in a big way too. But will 2017 bring a much bigger and tougher change?
In 2016, design and customer experience was finally and fully accepted as a major success factor by the CEOs of our age. The kind of problems we were solving and the technology at our disposal got really interesting. We saw our day rates increase and the job market went wild. There had never been a better time to be a designer.
With great power comes even greater responsibility
In 2016 we discovered we had great power. We shaped the future, reinvented business models and created new technology to serve our clients and their customers. In 2017 they will expect more, but with this great power comes even greater responsibility.
We’ve all heard the famous quote, but what if…
Uber owned all the cars but employed no drivers. Amazon ran every shopping experience (on and off line) without any shop assistants or delivery drivers. Then AirBnb managed all the beds in the world but may run out of paying guests. What if?
The rise of automation will carry on in 2017. Everything from automated vehicles to check-out free grocery stores. But what happens when this new technology becomes mainstream? When the automated vehicle replaces taxi drivers. Or check-out free stores replace the check-out assistant? What does that mean for society, people’s jobs and the way we live?
Artificial intelligence became mainstream in 2016. We started talking to machines, and they started talking back. Instant messaging introduced us to a world of communication with our colleagues without the need to speak to each other in-person. In 2016 new devices started replacing those colleagues with machines capable of far more. Is human-to-human contact fast becoming human-to-machine? And before long machine-to-machine? Are we becoming second-class to the machines we create?
What happened to the humans beings we serve? In 2017 we will face new challenges far greater than the business and technology problems we faced in 2016.
In 2017 designers need to face these new challenges head on
In 2017 we don’t need anymore UX Designers. Designers who fulfil the requests of their clients, who create options for non-designers to decide on. Those who produce deliverables to hand-over to third parties and conduct research to tick a box on a check-list. Even those who focus on designing products beautifully. We don’t need you in 2017.
We need a special kind of designer that’s ready for these new challenges. A leader ready to step up to the importance of their role. With a set of moral values that guide them as they create the future. And the ability to inspire and excite those around them to create followers.
These designers will be curious enough to keep asking ‘why’ and brave enough to offer ‘why not’. They’ll say ‘no’ to that feature if it doesn’t feel right to them. They will value the outcomes created over the output they produce. Putting the customer first in all their decisions. Because they serve humans beings over businesses and machines.
They will focus on designing the right product over designing it right. Being open minded to see problems from other perspectives and challenge the status quo. They’ll think beyond the obvious to reframe problems in a way to create a future that we want ALL our children to grow up in.
The problems and challenges we face in 2017 will reshape more than the businesses we serve. They will transform societies and cultures, change the way we live our lives and make a big difference to the world around us. Now the real work begins.
2017 WILL be the best time to be a designer. Bring it on.