d-school - delivering design thinking for finance professionals


d-school to show finance professionals how design thinking can make their organisations future proof.

Finance Indaba Africa presents the d-school with the opportunity to work with a new layer in the organisation. With finance shifting from being almost exclusively about cost reduction to more analysis around customer insights, the potential to engage with a more diverse group of influencers is significant.

“We want to exchange insights from our perspective regarding how best delegates can leverage customer insights to build momentum for the future. It is about using those insights to develop new products and services for businesses. The new environment is about identifying trends and how best to feed them into a business,” says Rael Futerman, programme manager at d-school.

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The d-school is the only training schools of its kind in Africa. While it comes from an academic space, it engages with design thinking in a different way.

“Not only do we understand the importance of context, but also local needs and global movements. This helps us to determine how organisations can use design thinking to become futureproof. There is certainly a willingness to embrace this as those companies who do not will see innovative employees leaving for their competitors.”

According to Futerman, finance departments can show others in the organisation to embrace this mindset and move from being purely analytical to incorporating creative thinking.

“Once people see the advantages of a design-led approach, they can develop a common language across the organisation. This enables innovation to happen and provides a great foundation for the future.”

Futerman says technologies like machine-learning and artificial intelligence enable businesses to leverage computers to perform analytics leaving them to upskill people inside the organisation for more strategic functions.

“Potentially, this could free up almost 40 percent of a person’s capacity inside the organisation. This lets them become more creative in their job functions with computers taking care of the admin-intensive and analytics-driven functions. Companies need to be aware of what is happening globally to avoid being left behind. People need to understand innovations despite some of the more traditionally-minded executives being resistant to change. In the research I have looked at, South Africa is slightly ahead of the rest of the continent in terms of adapting and changing to new technology. All told, these are interesting times for us and we are looking forward to working on this changing approach,” he concludes.

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