NEC Finds Business and Talent Opportunities through Multi-Stage Partnership with ID
November 16, 2023
Known as the key locus for pioneering thought at the intersection of business and design, the Institute of Design (ID) has been recognized year after year for its world-changing ideas and innovations.
But what can the Institute of Design offer the singular organization?
The launch of the new, three-legged ID (Graduate School, Executive Academy, Action Labs) has meant a bevy of opportunities for partners. Through partnered, multi-staged initiatives, ID finds novel approaches to an organization’s pressing issues. For NEC Solution Innovators, Inc., a Fortune 500 company that offers IT and network solutions to businesses and government agencies, realizing and benefitting from these opportunities unfolded through a series of touchpoints.
Demonstrating the Potential of Emerging Technologies
Student demonstrates prototype of AI and VR platform designed to reduce racial inequities in medical education
The ID-NEC relationship began with Dean Anijo Mathew’s Spring 2022 Multidisciplinary Prototyping class. The NEC team challenged graduate students in design, technology, and business to synthesize new ideas and innovations that leverage emerging AI technologies for healthcare and workspaces.
As pioneers of human-centered design and champions of applying design principles to business, ID is at the vanguard of creating value out of emerging technologies. Through their final presentation, graduate students delivered NEC four full-scale prototypes: an AI and VR platform to reduce racial inequities in medical education, an AI-powered onboarding experience for new employees, robotic guides for office interactions, and an IoT platform for personal healthcare at home.
Equipped with new thinking and business ideas, the NEC-ID partnership continued into a summer research project, an ID Academy course for the NEC team, and an internship program for ID students.
Revealing Opportunities for Self-Tracked Data
Renderings of Community-driven Cartography, a crowd-generated navigation system that builds and protects communities. Part of the Memiro project.
In Summer 2022, Assistant Professor Zach Pino, an expert at the intersection of data and design who works in generative AI and is interested in developing inclusive technologies for marginalized audiences, led a team of four handpicked ID student-researchers in the Memiro project, an effort to surface opportunities at the intersection of data and design. The project blazed new trails and established new approaches.
The team saw an opportunity to “explore new ways of using self-tracking data for purposes of safety and community building,” explained ID researcher Shinichiro Kuwahara (MDes 2021).
Eschewing traditional persona and scenario-building approaches, the team focused on capturing rich data about individuals and specific communities.
Other highlights included research that proposed adding a critical sixth “V,” Vulnerability, to the commonly accepted 5 V’s of Big Data and a better understanding of the real value that self-tracked data might bring to organizations.
Ultimately, the team proposed four designs:
- Digital Legacy, a memory repository that aids in aging and end-of-life scenarios
- Community-driven Cartography, a crowd-generated navigation system that builds and protects communities
- Moving Alignment, which monitors physical movement for honest reflection and appropriate action
- Personal Encoding, which protects sensitive information through analog encoding
Customized, topic-based explorations like those offered through the Multidisciplinary Prototyping workshop and Memiro research project explore emerging business, technology, and organizational challenges and opportunities through design.
In addition, NEC was also able to expand its innovation and design capacity by hiring five ID students as summer interns.
Enrolling in the ID Academy
With a series of ID engagements under their belt, the NEC team felt drawn to engage in the classroom themselves. ID’s Executive Academy allows organizations to tap the next-level thinking and pioneering practices of ID faculty in order to level up existing talent. The NEC team thought the approaches taught by Dean Mathew in Multidisciplinary Prototyping would be helpful to their own team, so NEC employees enrolled in Academy Prototyping for Strategy, a course tailored for professionals—and ideal for the NEC team to take together.
Finding Ways to Work Together
If your organization would like to explore a multi-pronged approach to engaging the Institute of Design, learn more about enrolling in Academy courses, sponsoring research, or offering internships, please reach out to Peter Zapf, ID Director of Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives.
Peter Zapf stands in the ID outside courtyard
Director of Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives
Contact Peter Zapf for inquiries about custom ID Academy courses, recruiting ID talent, and crafting a range of partnerships with ID and its Action Labs.
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