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The human-centric revolution that is redefining ICT

Kenny MacIver — August 2014

People are now at the center of technology innovation, argues innovation designer Vito Di Bari — at long last.

In recent years, under the growing influence of the consumerization of IT, customer experience and design have become primary considerations for most business technologists. That is evident in numerous (but by no means all) business areas — from compelling mobile banking apps and online retail sites to powerful enterprise social networking and data visualization tools.

But according to innovation designer Vito Di Bari, the arrival of consumer design values within business software is actually being viewed through the wrong end of the telescope.

“A lot of people are asking why design is [moving] center stage in technology. But I’d argue that this is not actually happening. The point is not that design is becoming part of technology but that technology is becoming part of design.”

And the great design that is evident with some smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices is just the vanguard. “What business people and CIOs must realize is that the entire world is changing and changing in a way where everything that's out there is about to be redesigned.”

The reason: companies across all industries are starting to embed Internet-connected microprocessors in the things they make – from window panes and jet engines to toothbrushes and light bulbs. And that means a rethink of the form and the function of these objects. “If we embed, then we have to redesign,” says Di Bari. “So it’s not so much design becoming a part of technology, it’s technology playing a role in the things of the future, and that means they have to be redesigned.”

“Finally, tech companies are understanding that they are producing stuff for real people who have a need to view [technology] as working for them.”

An important factor in that transition will be a better understanding of how people are now at the center of technology engagement, he argues. “I think that finally tech companies are understanding that they are producing stuff for people, real people who have a need to view [technology] as working for them.”

Tech companies have had to accept they are not leading the digital revolution — producing technologies in isolation. Instead, users of technology are now increasingly defining the shape of the technologies — just as in any mature market. “The entire world is changing and technologists have to understand that people are driving [the direction of] technology innovation rather than companies thinking they’re driving it, as was the case in the past.”
Human-centric age

“What we’re talking about here is human-centric innovation,” he says — although it’s only in recent times that technology companies have started to accept such a fundamental aim. “There is an awareness appearing in the minds at many big companies that they are not pointing the future to people, but people are pointing the future direction to them.”

He singles out ICT company Fujitsu as having understood this earlier and better than any of its rivals (see Fujitsu Technology and Service Vision). “Fujitsu has a good sense of where the world is going; others will follow,” he says. “As such, if you ask me, are we going towards a human-centric age? The answer is, yes — finally.”

• Find out more about Human Centric Innovation in the Fujitsu Technology and Service Vision

First published
August 2014
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About: Vito Di Bari
A professor, think-tank director and consultant, Vito Di Bari has been exploring the symbiosis between design and innovation for over two decades. He is the author of 11 books, including the Neofuturist City Manifesto, which was instrumental in Milan’s bid for Expo 2015.

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