John Cain is a design strategist, serial entrepreneur, and educator whose work has consistently focused on innovation—developing robust methods for creating products and services amid the startling challenges and opportunities of the past three decades. In the face of new technologies, globalization, and the current Data Economy, he has persisted in applying an integrative approach, drawing on the humanities, technology, and design traditions to inform his own work, and that of his clients and students. Cain is joining IIT as a Visiting Industry Professor after teaching for over 20 years at the Institute of Design as an Adjunct Faculty member. At ID, he will be helping to devise a course curriculum for design and innovation methods to shape technology-enabled products and services to be more useful, wise and fair.
Cain received his undergraduate training at the Institute of Design, IIT, and at Yale’s Brissago Design Program. The seemingly incompatible worlds of form and systems thinking led him to a role at Jay Doblin & Associates (later Doblin Group), a groundbreaking firm that was first to establish design as a business strategy through the large-scale view of strategic design planning. At Doblin Group, Cain led projects for McGraw Hill, Amoco, and Apple Computer, among many others.
In 1994, Cain and Rick Robinson, PhD, cofounded the pioneering human-centered research firm E-lab, widely recognized as the first standalone social research and design services firm. In 1999, E-Lab was acquired by Sapient Corp., a technology consulting firm at the forefront of design, business, and technology integration.
Cain joined HWT, an innovative start-up data analytics firm, in 2004. As COO he led programs for public health payers to implement audit, analysis & payment recovery solutions. In 2008, HWT was acquired by UnitedHealth Group, where Cain led data innovation programs until Robinson sidetracked him with another business venture..
Known for their pioneering work in human-centered business innovation, Cain and Robinson launched a research and development firm, Iota Partners, in 2010, to design and build sensor technology platforms for ongoing collection of smart data. When Iota was acquired by SapientNitro in 2013, the intelligence platform developed by Cain and Robinson became the centerpiece of Sapient’s Consumer Intelligence services.
Cain is currently active in a number of ventures including consumer products, data, and analytics start-ups. He is a frequent writer and lecturer on topics ranging from experience design and consumer research, to innovation, data analytics, and the internet of things.