The rise of design signaled the fall of Nokia, RIM and Motorola describes how engineering is becoming less important in distinguishing hightech and other products from each other. It also presages a seismic shift away from product towards customer experience in determining market leaders for people-oriented products and services. A very large portion of product companies will follow in the footsteps of these three former mobile phone titans unless they transform their focus from product features (engineering) to customer experience (design).
By no means do I imply that engineering is not important—in fact, it is more important than ever—I assert that it is less important than design in differentiating people-oriented products. Engineering is abstracted away from the customer/user of the product, and design explicitly addresses how the customer uses the product to attain outcome(s).
Design is to the Knowledge Economy what engineering was to the Industrial Economy.
Ron May, 1956-2013
Ron May Digital Social Pioneer, and the notorious Chicago hightech commentator and analyst, died on 23 June 2013. Since I knew Ron longer and better than many people, I’ll reflect on what I knew of his life and considerable gifts and contributions. Above all, I’ll try to convey what Ron taught me about the digital world, where he was a pioneer among pioneers.
I met Ron in late 1996 in Dick Reck’s office at KPMG, when The May Report was fledging. It was obvious that he was unusually smart and passionate and motivated, and I learned that these traits were the foundation of Ron May the person. Ron May cared, and he had strong opinions. He had a brilliant inquisitive mind and indefatigable energy. I had a few conversations with Ron about his health over the years, and I suspect that it had a large impact on how he felt and interacted in public.