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By Chris Purcell
Steve Jobs famously said, “If you are working on something that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.”
For Bryan Jacquot, Vice President and Chief Design Officer at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), that vision is creating innovative IT designs. To achieve this goal, two concepts relentlessly tug at his brain: discover what the users really needs and then design something that fits seamlessly into their hands.
During a recent podcast, Jacquot spoke with Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. In his interview, Jacquot shared his thoughts on how innovative IT design is helping organizations succeed in today’s ultra-competitive and disruptive business environment.
Seamlessly solve business needs
Jacquot believes the goal of today’s IT design is all about helping users solve their business needs rapidly. The pace of change today means every business must move quickly in order to not only survive – but to thrive. And effective IT design is key to achieving that goal.
“With design, we want to help customers achieve their business needs in a more efficient, agile, and responsive manner,” says Jacquot. “Whether it’s in hospitals, where they are trying to deliver better patient care using medical records, or if it’s in the finance industry, where they are trying to get the next trade done faster. It’s all about speed and agility.”
As Jacquot talks with customers, a consistent overriding theme emerges – they are all under threat of being disrupted by somebody. And if someone else is not disrupting them, they are trying to create their own business disruption to prevent someone else from disrupting them.
Because of this threat, organizations must constantly push themselves, so they can focus time and energy on their business instead of IT. Jacquot explains that businesses require the best possible IT in terms of scaffolding, foundation, and structure to support what they are trying to do. “Anything that designers can build for those users to be more efficient, those are the things that are the most successful and sought after.”
Begin at the beginning: know your user
At several points during the podcast, Jacquot talks about innovation – what he’s learned and what he focuses on. He began his career as a software engineer, working on numerous projects. During those years, he developed a passion for doing the right thing for the user by designing solutions that were error-free and easy to use.
He learned that he must first understand the user before he could determine how to enable them effectively. “Innovation requires a lot of listening and understanding. We can brainstorm and explore, but it has to start with understanding and not trying to be too rigid. If you’re too rigid, I think you would miss out on opportunities.”
Jacquot thinks it’s important that he and his team not move too quickly to provide a solution, but first make sure they really understand the problems their users have. Once that happens, they can focus on innovating and delivering higher value to them.
Creativity is messy – a bunch of squiggly lines
Once Jacquot and his team think they truly understand the user, the next step in the innovation process is creativity. “We explore ideas, try things, throw them out, and try again. You can start down a path, share ideas, and get feedback. And we don’t always get it right the first time. In fact, I expect to get a bunch of this wrong before I get it right.”
Jacquot is passionate about the creative process – calling it messy. If you do a Google search on design or design thinking and look at the pictures that come up, a lot of them show an orderly process. But Jacquot insists those pictures miss one important thing.
As you are going through this process, and as you get a better understanding of the user and where you are heading, you take turns you didn’t expect. “You have to be willing to take those turns to get to the nugget of what’s possible. The creative process doesn’t go in straight line. It’s curvy, it’s a squiggly line all over the place. We start by finding good places where things are resonating, and we continue to refine and iterate until we get to the point when we’ve got something. Then we go build and deliver that — and then the next squiggly, messy area starts up again in a continuous cycle that never ends,” Jacquot says.
Meet your user’s needs, quickly and efficiently
Another insightful Steve Jobs quote talks about the importance of design. “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
Jacquot agrees. “The best solutions we can build are the ones that fit as seamlessly as possible into the user’s hands, whether they are working with something digitally or physically. For me, that vision led me to the successful delivery of various products and solutions over my career — offerings that are focused on meeting the customers’ needs.”
Jacquot and his team are working to deliver services that meet the needs of those users where ever they are. Users will choose a service that enables them to be as quick and efficient. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a big public cloud or if it’s in local IT — as long as they are able to do it with the least effort on their part as possible.
Chris Purcell drives analyst relations for the Software-Defined and Cloud Group at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. The Software-Defined and Cloud Group organization is responsible for marketing for HPE Synergy, HPE OneView, and HPE SimpliVity hyperconverged solutions. To read more from Chris Purcell, please visit the HPE Shifting to Software-Defined blog.