All of us know the most valuable corporation in the world, in terms of market capitalization is Apple. Of course, Apple is known for its technological prowess and great products. But if we conduct a fair study analyzing the technological capabilities of those rivaling companies of Apple, such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, or even companies like Intel and Nvidia, they are no less in having created some of the outstanding technological marvels in both Hardware and Software. Then why is Apple rated as the most valuable company in the World.
Fundamental to Apple value creation and valuation lies in its ability to design its products and design the way the company is presented to its audience and how it interacts with its stakeholders.
Steve Jobs had the uncanny knack of understanding the value of designing products that are not only sleek, great looking but also simple and easy to learn and operate. This approach is extended to all the aspects of running companies like Apple. This resulted in building extremely loyal customers and also they are able to sustain this value by institutionalizing this as their practice.
When humans and Machines were to interact with each other from the beginning, the technologies that became popular and successful were those which were easy to learn, use and deal with. Initially this science was called Human Computer Interaction design, which covered all types of machines, electrical, mechanical and electronic etc. It started with designing dials and knobs and extended to ergonomics which dealt with the design of machines that are suitable for humans to use. Ergonomics include the way non-interactive systems’ design such as design of Tables and chairs, eventually expanded to the systems like automobile seats, steering or changing their dimensions to suit individual users.
With digital gadgets like PCs, Laptops, Mobile phones, Music Players and Digital PDAs emerged, the hardware and software capabilities of these devices increased but the real challenge is to enable the users to harness the power of these powerful systems, which often was limited by the interfaces. The small form factors of these systems are not necessarily useful unless it is easy for human beings to intuitively discover on the fly and use these devices to benefit from. Starting from keyboards, joysticks, trackpad, mouse and trackballs were designed and eventually all of them became an extension of human limbs, helping us connect with technological systems seamlessly.
When internet technology became mainstream, the intuitive and user-friendly user interface eventually designed elements that determined the success or failure of these products and services. With mobile this challenge increased and intelligent companies like Apple continue to innovate and remain leaders resulting in their massive market capitalization.
This background is explained to you, the founder to highlight the necessity of mastering the art of design, which not only relates the aesthetic and functional features that are offered by your products or services, but also how easy for the users to learn them and use them. This goes beyond the core of the product or services but also to the ways your potential customers discover your products and services. Then how easy these products or services can be tried out and bought from your company. How easy it is for them to avail your support and perhaps even financing them etc.
The comprehensive approach to designing all the aspects of business from the products and various interfaces and interactions of businesses are dealt with in the field of ‘Design Thinking’. It is important for all the startup founders and their teams to learn these essential formal sciences of building new products, services, interfaces and solutions.
Success in the modern business and industrial sphere requires much more than technology, finance or other resources. Without the ability to design great products, companies cannot create valuable products and services.
A J Balasubramanian is a serial entrepreneur, with over three decades of startup experience in founding companies, mentoring / incubating startups and writes regularly on topics of interest to startups.