Kathy Gibson is at Fujitsu ActivateNow – As the world of work changes, design thinking is driving a new way of developing solutions.

Venanzio Arquilla, associate professor at POLI.Design University in Milan, says the role of design thinking is key in the move to digital transformation.

“Design is more relevant than ever today,” he says. “We need a pragmatic way of designing technology solutions. Design thinking is a good tool for companies and government to define new ways of living.”

Arquilla stresses that the object of design is always to create a better life for people, and needs to combine a mix of strategic components.

“We need that conversation between design thinking and design doing – this gives us the ability to see what the new is, together with the practical side of delivering something that can be used.”

Joachim Box, head of co-creating and DTC program at Fujitsu, agrees that pragmatism is key to the success of design thinking. “For us, it means we can work faster. It allows us to be human-centred – and that is the power of design.”

Arquilla points out that the world is changing rapidly, and technology today needs to embrace object, attitude, experience and strategy. “It needs to be about the user experience perspective and the service perspective. Every product today is now part of a service.”

Companies need to look at different ways that they think about design, Arquilla adds. “Organisations need to evolve every day to meet their users’ needs. The need to think about the humanisation of products, giving human value to services – thus making them more useful to people.”

Box agrees: “In a digital world, we can’t see the product or service – it’s about how we consume it, feel it, and understand it.”

At Fujitsu, design is becoming more important to the company’s work. “Design-driven management is important, so we are growing the design literacy of all the people in the company. We will see a greater emphasis on design within the company and how we work with customer organisations.”

As an example of how design thinking can address specific challenges, Box points to the challenges that all companies – including Fujitsu – experienced with Covid-related lockdowns forcing employees to work from home.

“In the last six to nine months, everyone has struggled with living and working in the same space.

“Although people believe they have been working harder, their productivity levels have been damaged because they are distracted all the time.

“What we wanted was a solution that would allow people to be completely absorbed in the complex business challenges. We needed to give them a digital environment that lets them be immersed in a problem, and brings out the best in them.”

To solve the problem, Fujitsu put together a digital workplace representation, where people appear as avatars and can see one another at work.

“It is a democratic environment where everyone is equally important, and they can work together in large or small groups. It helps workers to be totally focused on the business challenges in what feels like a physical space.

“This solution has resonated in all our offices around the world, and we have seen that it really works for every culture. Plus it give is the advantage that we can bring in people from around the world to add value to teams – so in this way it is actually better than the physical world.”