Demand for design is growing strongly and design is increasingly integrated into the core businesses of companies. Most of the design work is done within companies. In 2021, so-called in-house design will account for a significant part of companies' design costs, amounting to 67 per cent.
This is what was shown by the survey of the member companies of the Helsinki Region Chamber of Commerce conducted in May-June 2021. The survey examined the utilisation of design expertise in companies in different industries. It was responded to by 108 companies in the services, manufacturing and construction sectors.
The majority of the respondents stated that the need for design or the demand for design services has increased over the past five years. In addition, a significant number of companies anticipated that growth will continue over the next five years.
According to the respondents, the main benefits of design are improved quality, usability and quality control of products and services as well as visualisation. In addition to designing products and services, design is more and more often seen in companies as design thinking and strategic design.
"The utilisation of design is growing gratifyingly well, and more sectors are investing in it. The production of design services within companies has increased significantly, which indicates that design is seen as an increasingly strategic part of companies' business operations," says Ornamo's Executive Director Salla Heinänen.
"There is still room for improvement, as more than half of the companies surveyed stated that the biggest obstacle for using design is the lack of design skills. Companies need more expertise to make design purchases. Financial instruments in this sector should also be developed."
"Design reduces uncertainty in decision making"
Elisa, which provides telecommunications, ICT and online service, has significantly invested in design in recent years. Its design community has quadrupled over the past few years.
"The transition from traditional user interface work to fast data-driven experimentation and agile service design facilitation is visible in the design sector," says Jussi-Pekka Erkkola, Service Director, Ecommerce & Digital Service at Elisa.
"Design also helps to understand what the value experienced by the customer consists of and how it is realised. A new challenge for design is the harmonisation of a multi-channel customer experience, which is facilitated by scalable and easily shared design practices and tools."
Designers work in all of our key business operations, at different stages of the lifecycle of our services," says Jouni Linkola, Head of Design at Elisa.
"Designers' tasks include gathering and refining customer understanding for service development, identifying business opportunities as well as designing and quickly evaluating the service concepts based on these. This means that design plays an important role in reducing uncertainty in decision-making."
The growth of design service companies continues
According to Statistics Finland's regional business statistics, the turnover of the core industry of design was EUR 3 650 million in 2019. This figure includes the manufacturing industry strongly utilising design (design-intensive industry), design service companies and artistic activities.
The turnover of design service companies continues to rise and its growth amounted to 59.5 per cent in 2010–2019. Growth has been the fastest in companies offering industrial design and interior design services. Turnover has also increased in artistic activities.
Traditional manufacturing using design accounted for 26 per cent of the total and its turnover has fallen by more than two per cent in 2010–2019. Turnover had fallen most in the manufacture of glass and ceramic products. Growth has been recorded in the industries of industrial design and clothing manufacturing, which has also been reflected in the growth of employment in these industries.
The total turnover of the design industry was EUR 12 600 million in 2019, including digital design and companies operating in the field of architecture and landscape management. Digital design accounts for a significant and growing share of the sector's total turnover. It was worth EUR 8 200 million in 2019. The field of digital design includes companies involved in software design and production, for example. As a result, the role of design in the development of companies' digital services has been significantly strengthened.
The total turnover of the design industry grew by around 2.9 per cent and employment by 5.8 per cent between 2018 and 2019. The development was better than the average for the whole business field.
The cyclical expectations of design have improved significantly
Ornamo's annual economic survey for the design sector maps the state and trends of the Finnish design sector. The economic surveys for 2021 were conducted for Ornamo member companies in June–August and 103 companies responded to them.
According to the survey, the outlook for the design sector has improved significantly since the downturn in 2020. Of the respondent companies, 51 per cent believed that the general demand and economic outlook will improve over the next 12 months. One year earlier, the corresponding share of respondents was unusually low at only 26 per cent. The views of the design sector on the general economic outlook and demand perspectives are clearly better than the average for SMEs as a whole.
The survey also collected information on the number of companies, their size, employment trends and internationalisation plans as well as on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the development of companies.