Sunday, January 29, 2006

Context is King and the Value of Design

The importance of design is a corollary of the idea of "context is king" .

IAI implies accessible information and technology. In 20th century business models, it's the lack of access, reflected in the high cost of getting it, that was an essential component of the value created by information and technology. RTR was only possible in a well managed large enterprise.

But in the GME, that basis for value creation is being replaced by the ability to execute in real time. In the communications industry, successful execution means traversing the "last mile". As shown by the history of the cable industy, getting the message from the street to the living room was the hard problem. The harder the problem, the greater the value created.

But the hard problem is a constantly moving target.

After billions of invested dollars, the tech for the last mile is now pretty much solved in the developed communites of the world. While that's still a relatively small market in global terms, it's significant. At any rate, the hard problem is shifting again - getting the message from the living room into a person's life.

That's the context for the next actionable hard problem.

iPods showed what happens when you solve the last mile problem. Apple's profits and success come from monetizing the value created by a design solution for a hard and actionable problem.

Creating value in the context of the last mile has always been the job of the great designers. Recognizing and monetizing that value creation is the job of great enterprises.

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