Digital design leaders from tech-forward firms across the country share their insights and to-do items for the new year. It may be wise to take note.
By Wanda Lau
The start of a new year may be the impetus you needed to reassess professional priorities and investments for the near and long term. Continuing our annual tradition of identifying technologies and business strategies to set you and your firm up for success, ARCHITECT asked nine digital leaders in tech-forward practices across the country to identify the changes they anticipate in the design profession. To gauge whether they're walking the walk, we also asked them to summarize what they've resolved to accomplish in 2019, with (imaginary) bonus points for brevity.
Use the Powers That Already Be
Charlie Williams, AIA
Director of Inspire Design and associate principal, LPA, Irvine, Calif.
Prediction: A deep understanding of the data that informs the design process and client relationships is an essential skill that every business will need to master as designers transition out of the service economy and into the experience economy. Professional sports and financial industries have already mastered and leveraged this skill. Books like Money Ball (W.W. Norton, 2014) and Super Crunchers (Penguin Random House, 2008) outline the benefits of understanding data and how to transform it to knowledge.
To date, the technology necessary to understand data deeply has not been very accessible. However, business intelligence tools have become user friendly and knowledge about how they can be leveraged is so broad that the tools are no longer constrained to large corporations and industries. With the maturation of business intelligence tools such as Tableau’s Tableau Desktop, Microsoft’s Power BI, and Google’s Data Studio, firms of all sizes can simultaneously investigate multiple databases—as complex as a SQL database or as simple as an Excel spreadsheet. Combining disparate bits of data distributed throughout a company’s network in ways that are visually oriented empowers companies to migrate data to information and even further to knowledge, which can then be leveraged to understand most anything, including financial metrics, project planning, and building information model health, more deeply.
Architects can leverage such business intelligence tools to transform the design process and client relationships. And as the stories shared in Money Ball and Super Crunchers show, success comes from the most unexpected of places.
Resolution: Deepen our informed design process with data and research-driven design thinking to further collaboration among our integrated design teams.