US manufacturers can teach a few lessons

“A new survey by Business Week and the Industrial Designers Society of America of 53 design departments in America’s largest companies reveals that decentralisation is in, budgets are up, staffing is down, hi-tech spending is up, and time to market is down.

Hard-won respect.

The survey, which asks corporate design managers to compare their business in 1990 to today, show that after years of internecine warfare with marketing and engineering, design has finally won the respect of top management. “There is more recognition of the value that design brings to the product by the business side than ever before,” says Lee Green, manager of corporate identity and design at IBM. “It’s become a strategic tool.”

The payoff is in rising design budgets, up by an average of 15 per cent to 20 per cent annually over the last five years.”

Business Week, 25 September 19950 lines of text

The content of a recent article from Business Week magazine should be of great interest to your readers (see above).

If the events described in the article concerning the approach to product development by large American companies is replicated over here it could have a substantial effect in both the design consultancy and manufacturing industries – namely that as manufacturers shed their design departments and increase design spending, the consultancy industry should receive a boost.

In order to remain competitive, manufacturers will have to ensure they have a longer term strategic approach to design and sufficient processes in place to support this approach.

If, as the article suggests, Motorola achieves a “ten-fold reduction in cycle time” within two years, its competitors will have to be equally committed if they are not to change from being market leaders or fast followers into trailing laggards.

Gavin Cawood

The Welsh Design Advisory

Service

Cardiff Institute of Higher

Education

Cardiff CF5 2YB

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