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InUse 2018: 85 million people – a great start

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Most acquisitions fail. Bringing organisations together is hard. Still, in 2017 we decided that the possibilities to make an even greater impact through combining inUse and ÅF were worth both the risk and the hard work it would take. Now, looking back at 2018 we’re off to a great start: we grew by 15 percent, got a taste of the new possibilities, and the work we did will make everyday life easier and more fun for 85 million people around the world.

At inUse, we are all about making an impact; for people, business, and society. Going into 2018, combining the skills of the old inUse and the old ÅF Industrial Design was definitely what excited me the most. The physical and digital worlds are melding into what can – when designed well – become truly seamless experiences that both empower and delight.

During 2018 we’ve started to do some really cool stuff in this “digi-physical” space. Just to mention a few things, we used VR technology to design coast guard boats, we worked with service innovation to help transform the transportation industry, we explored how to change people's behavior during rush hour, and we collaborated with the immensely talented team at ÅF Sound to create Sound Design Guidelines for one of the world's larger appliance manufacturers.

These are all really super cool projects. However, we're just starting to scratch the surface of what’s possible in this space.

Oh. And just to mention a few more things, we’ve also improved the e-banking experiences for millions of people, re-designed the check-out for an e-commerce site with 2.5 billion annual visits (rolling out during 2019), and together with the waste management and recycling company Renova we created an award-winning customer portal that improves customer service and internal efficiency, helps to gain new business, and improves environmental sustainability.

One area that we wanted to start exploring during 2018 was the design possibilities of AI and Machine Learning. We ended up doing more than just exploring, including a few smaller projects (that I hope to be able to tell you about in the future), and starting a university program in collaboration with Halmstad University. And, at the moment we're super excited to start working with Fredrik Hofflander and his team of AI Engineers at ÅF.

AI and Machine Learning is becoming a core skill, regardless whether you work with Business-, Service-, or UX-design. Everyone in the field of creating great experiences need to learn, and start exploring the possibilities. For that particular reason I’m really happy to have both Chris Noessel (IBM Watson) and Paul Fu (Alibaba) joining us as speakers at From Business 2019, and I strongly recommend reading ”Prediction Machines” to get a business perspective, and ”Designing Agentive Technology" to get a design perspective. Yes, AI is hyped. But in the form of prediction technology it’s already here. And it will make a big difference for everyone working with digital design.

From Business to Buttons 2018 attracted more than 800 attendees to the beautiful Circus in Stockholm. The weather was perfect, and on stage we got to hear Maria Giudice, Kellee Santiago, and Tony Ulwick among others. It's always fun to read the tweets and comments after the conference, and this was my favorite from 2018:

From Business to Buttons borde vara en röd dag för alla som arbetar med design på ett eller annat sätt. Och när filmerna släpps på Youtube borde det vara halvdag.#fbtb18
— Bjarne Johannessen (@UxBjarne) May 15, 2018

Perhaps most capturing was Jared Spools talk about Disney and how design matures and develops in large organisations. If you haven’t yet seen it – don’t miss it. Definitely worth 40 minutes of your time!

When I write this From Business to Buttons 2019 is selling out quickly. There are now fewer than 100 90 tickets left, and the conference is still more than six weeks away. The lineup, which includes Kim Goodwin, Jake Knapp, Laura Kalbag, and Marc Stickdorn, is absolutely stellar. In truth, I’m already experiencing performance anxiety for 2020. It’ll be a tall order to put together something that will beat this, so get your ticket now, if it’s not too late.

The fifth edition of the InUse Award offered not only great inspiration, but also entertainment by Ebbot (Soundtrack of Our Lives) and Nicolai Dunger. It was pure joy to celebrate the fantastic work of e.g. Opti, TipTapp and EasyPark, and of course to congratulate the winners Trine for creating a great example of design that makes an impact, for people, business and society.

We – everyone in the design business – need these role models. We need the inspiration. We need to aspire, both to solve the kind of challenges that e.g. Trine, Tolkvox and Dit-i-tid takes on, but also just to learn from their ways of working. Thank you for being excellent. Also, thanks to Anna Eriksson (DIGG), Martin Espmark (PostNord), Lennart Waldenström (ÅF), Ylva Lipkin (SEB) and our own Jonas Söderström, David Dinka and Sara Lerén for their excellent jury work.

The inUse blog becomes more popular every year. In 2018 we had 191 000 visits, compared to 145 000 in 2017 – an increase of 31 percent. Some of the most popular posts (most of them in Swedish) were:

And, on the theme of writing, Jonas Söderström released another celebrated book, "Inte så jävla krångligt!", this time adressing how to write for impact!

Yes. It’s a lot. 2018 was intense. And still, this is just a small sample of what we have done in this new constellation. A small sample from the 188 assignments for the 95 clients we worked with. From our 107 blog posts to our 10 lovely speakers at From Business to Buttons. And from some of the most innovative products and services that we celebrated at the inUse Award. In the midst of this we find 130+ brilliant designers, 50 percent men and 50 percent women, with at least 1000 years of combined working experience. The work we did last year will make everyday life easier and more fun for 85 million people around the world. 85 million people... that's what I call a great start!