Houston innovators podcast episode 110
This expert shares why Houston has a bright future as a design-led innovation city
When you think of design in terms of the role it plays in innovation and technology, you might picture a graphic designer or maybe one step in a product's path to market. But for Summer Reeves, design is an integral part of the entire innovation process.
"When people think about design, they think about visual design — UX/UI digital products," Reeves says on this week's episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "But what we do from a service design or, what I like to say, a holistic design approach is very different."
Reeves is the director of the Houston Fjord studio — which operates under Accenture Interactive. She's currently standing up the new studio in Houston, which has iterations across the world from Austin and New York to Barcelona and Singapore. The new studio in Houston will help Accenture clients think through the design of their solutions, rather than jump the gun on deploying a technology.
"We want to be a design-led company," Reeves says. "Fjord is what I call the tip of the spear of what we do."
Fjord's design team focus on understanding the root cause of the problem, who's impacted, and what the scale of the solution should be. On the podcast, she gives the example of a coffee shop that wants a mobile app to engage with customers. Reeves says rather than just creating the app, Fjord would look at what the customer wants via surveys and observations.
"It's human nature to jump to solutioning," she says, "but we need to do research to make sure that's the right call."
Reeves is currently responsible for growing the team of the studio — something not too unfamiliar to her. She was instrumental in setting up Accenture's Houston Innovation Center. She say she's excited for the way the design industry in Houston has developed. It's been second chair to Austin on the Texas landscape, but that's changing.
"There's a reason why Accenture is building a Fjord studio here in Houston — and now, versus in the past," Reeves says.
She describes Austin employers overly competitive for designers — making it hard to attract and retain design talent. This has caused a wave of designers coming to Houston. She's also seeing Houston employers — mostly in the energy industry — shift their thinking in hiring these types of positions.
Reeves shares more on the intersection between design and innovation — as well as how COVID-19 affected consulting — on the podcast. Listen to the full interview below — or wherever you stream your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.