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The digital transformation and the importance of design

Since the mid-80s I have been fascinated by the notion of the Digital Transformation (sometimes called DX). In those days we speculated a lot about what the digital transformation would be and what it would lead to. I gave talks about a future where every piece of furniture is connected, every tree in the forest is constantly measured and connected, all houses and vehicles are fully connected and aware of each other, etc.

As with most predictions, the aspects of the transformation that I saw as fascinating are not necessarily the ones we today are experiencing as the most important ones, even though some are. But what really is emerging as a fundamental aspect of the digital transformation is that it forces us as humans to think about where we want to go, what we see as the desired future, what the role of humans should be. It has become less a question of transformative technology and more about what deep ideals and values should guide us through this transformation.

Digital technology is a material that has no form, no shape, no limits, we can do almost whatever we want with it. I have realized that this is not a question that can be answered by defining a goal or an end state. Instead, it is something that is answered in every tiny step on the way. That means that every designer is partially answering the question on a very practical and everyday level when they create and design new products and services.

This means that there are no insignificant designs, no difference between small and big designs, no difference between simple and difficult designs, they are all important and they all contribute by adjusting the direction we as a society are moving. To me, this brings wonder into design. Every time we add a design to the world, the world changes its path. It removes the unfortunate distinction between what is important design work and what is not.

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