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Design Thinking and AI Practices for Competitive Advantage

Let’s get one thing straight

Okay, so it’s 2019 and Artificial Intelligence is finding its way around us more and more. It is not the futuristic scenario that it was until four or five years ago, it is now a reality.

And yeah, I know how most of you think, as it happened with other such events, like social media, which marketers considered a fad, or the advance of smartphones, which was neglected by NOKIA. 

Let me get this straight: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IS NOT A FAD! 

Even though it just recently came to what can be called its final form, the concept itself exists for about 60 years now.

Artificial Intelligence playing piano.
source: www.unsplash.com

What does this mean for Businesses?

Based on the results of a study conducted by ISG in 2017, they estimated that the use of AI and Automation was going to triple by 2019 when 16% of the companies were already using Automation and AI in their processes, and 51% expected to do so by 2019.

Among the industries that AI has the most impact on, there is, obviously, IT. 59% of the respondents said that IT productivity will be doubled by 2020, because of AI.

In Customer Care, 61% of the respondents said that virtual agents and chatbots will improve customer experience, and in the field of Finance & Accounting, RPA (Robotic Process Automation) will automate more than half of processes.

In another study, conducted by HBR Analytic Services and Oracle, in 2018, 80% of the respondents said that adding AI and automation to their business processes is very important to their success. 

Among these, the five business areas that will benefit from this type of automation are Operations (77%), Customer Service (63%), Decision Support (62%), IT (61%) and Finance (53%).

36% of the leaders of organizations participating in the study said that their use of automation has had a very positive impact on the organization’s bottom line.

There are other benefits expected from AI and automation, such as boosting efficiency by eliminating manual processes and increasing process quality.

What can be taken out of this? 

Well, yeah, AI can be considered as a threat. It can be considered as a threat because it’s new, it’s technical, and it’s not available to everyone.

It can be considered as a threat because there is not a lot of knowledge available on how to integrate it into the processes, operate it and work with it.

But you know what the real threat is?

The real threat is the competition implementing AI into their processes, learning how to operate it and work with it. As I said, it is not something to be ignored because „it will just go away.” 

It is something to be taken seriously. Because if you don’t do it, your competitor will.

And you know what that means.

So, what’s left to do?

Design Thinking.

That’s what you should do.

You probably know what Design Thinking is. If not, to briefly explain it, Design Thinking is a structured way of dealing with problems in a creative way. Sounds good?

Design Thinking combines both Convergent and Divergent Thinking to properly understand the roots of a problem before trying to solve it. 

The Design Thinking process usually consists of five steps:

  • Empathize – Design Thinking relies heavily on the needs of the users. To create a great solution, you need to properly understand the needs and pains of those you are creating for.
  • Define – Redefining the problem based on the needs identified at the previous step.
  • Ideate – Ideation techniques of all sorts, through all kinds of brainstorming and visual techniques. (Visual techniques are highly encouraged in the context of Design Thinking.)
  • Prototyping – Building prototypes for them to be tested with the product or service’s end users.
  • Testing – the actual testing of the prototype. Users should be encouraged to interact with it as much as possible, to get the most profound insights.


If you want to learn more about the Design Thinking process, you should check out this article we wrote a while ago, Everything You Need to Know About Design Thinking (It’s in Romanian, but Google Translate always does its job well:) )


„An AI revolution is underway right now, but I believe it needs to be complemented with a design revolution.” says Jim Guszca, chief data scientist at Deloitte Consulting LLP

How do Design Thinking and AI work together?

 One of the purposes of Design Thinking in organizations is to promote the practice of working in cross-disciplinary teams that encourage employees to be analytical, to question, observe and, most importantly, to experiment in an environment that is surrounded by uncertainty. Also, Design Thinking preaches the fact that innovation accounting should be realigned. That means that when an organization adopts AI, that doesn’t mean that the IT department will be in charge of it while anyone else will have no clue what is going on. No, through a Design Thinking culture, innovative and technological aspects will be shared throughout the whole organization, where employees will be encouraged to test it, play it and understand the basics of it.

Executives who promote a culture based on Design Thinking can accelerate the adoption of AI, achieve alignment throughout the whole organization and drive commitment towards the general goals.

Where Design Thinking is a general practice, employees aren’t afraid of the unknown because they learn to work with it, make sense of it and adopt it with ease.

This article is just an introduction to what this practice consists of. There are serious aspects of it, which can only be understood to practice.

Luckily for you, we are organizing a free meetup on the 2nd of October, in Cluj-Napoca at ClujHub. 

Our friend Nadia Piet, Service Designer and specialist in both Artificial Intelligence and Design Thinking will be joining us and will walk you through a crash course in AI, common machine learning applications and ideas on how to leverage AI for better user experiences. 

It is a free event so you can reserve your spot simply by responding to it on the link below.

You can see what Nadia has been up to (A lot!) on her Linkedin profile.

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Innovating Society ajută antreprenorii prin găsirea de soluții inovative la nivel de produs, strategie, oameni, marketing și transformare organizațională. Urmărește activitatea noastră pe canalele de social media:

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