Designing Digital Realities

We can no longer ignore it; we are facing some solid challenges in the world we live in. Global warming, the war in Ukraine, rising energy costs, farmers’ protests. Shall I go on? We should not ignore these challenges. In fact, we cannot longer ignore them. We must take responsibility in this; you, me, the government and organizations too. But don’t get me wrong! Taking responsibility is not just a duty. No, it actually creates a lot of opportunities, chances to make a positive impact.


In this blog, I will dive into how organizations can create new value and make positive impact by taking responsibility. They can do this, for example, by using a Digital Reality to achieve sustainable business. A sustainable business is one that creates a net positive value for our environment (Planet), our society (People) and the organization itself (Prosperity). This is what we call ‘Triple Win’. Read on quickly to find out how to design and create this sustainable value.


Designing Sustainable Value

Before we go into depth, it is important to remember that designing sustainable value, in this case through a Digital Reality, is not about figuring out what cool technical applications you can use. What it is about, however, can be broken down into three different steps. First, it’s about creating a clear design of what impact you want to make as a business. We call this strategy design. Second, it’s about knowing what value you want to deliver. This is called business model design. And finally, you need to be clear to yourself how a Digital Reality can help you then realize this value. This is called digital design. In the following paragraphs, we will discuss these three steps in detail.


Strategy Design

The impact you want to make as an organization and the role you play in it must be clear and obvious. Not just for you, but for everyone within the organization. In this way, you will ensure that everyone within your organization will commit to creating the same impact. We call this strategy design. Strategy design consists of six steps.

  • Step 1: You start strategy design by outlining the context. This is because it is important to have a good idea of what is happening in the world, what is changing and what changes might be relevant to your organization.
  • Step 2: After outlining the context, you form a shared worldview. Together you form an opinion about what needs to change in the world. You determine what is important to you and what needs attention.
  • Step 3: The next step is to translate your worldview into a mission. A mission is a clear and concrete description of the impact you want to make as an organization.
  • Step 4: Once you have formed a mission, the next step is to form a vision. A vision describes the role you want to play as an organization in achieving the mission.
  • Step 5: The next step is to create an ambition. An ambition consists of measurable results that you want to have achieved at a specific time. Your ambition shows whether you’re on the right track in realizing the mission and vision. We call the ambition the champagne moment, when can we open the champagne bottle?
  • Step 6: The final step is to write down strategic pillars. It is important to have a clear understanding of what the focus points will be for the coming years. These pillars will ensure that you can realize your vision and ambition. If you go through all six steps, you will see that, as an organization, you have a much better idea of where you can play the game. It is also then easier to make choices about where to invest time, energy, and money. Last, and not least, it also creates a lot of collective positive energy.


Business model design

After you have clearly formulated your strategy, use it to adjust your current business model. It can also help you design new business models. A business model is important because it makes concrete what value you want to deliver as an organization to fulfil your mission and vision.

During the design of your (new) business model, you want to discover whether it has real value for your customers (desirability). In addition, you want to find out whether you can realize this business model in a scalable way (feasibility). You also need to find out if you have enough left over from the business model to continue delivering value over the long term (viability). Last, but not least, it is important to be clear whether you can deliver the value in a way that contributes positively to the environment and society (responsibility).

Digital Realities can help you create sustainable value. It can help you with the following:

  • Make value accessible to more people
  • Reduce the negative impact of physical solutions
  • Create convenience for society
  • Make solutions scalable


Now I see you thinking, what exactly is a Digital Reality? A Digital Reality is the use of technology in interactions to deliver more value. For example, you can think of interactions with your customers or with your employees. In this way, you create an interaction that may not have been possible before.

There is not one kind of Digital Reality, we know several. I will explain the different forms of Digital Realities below.


Digital world

A Digital Reality can be a digital world in which value is made available. We have long known digital worlds within the gaming industry, but we are now seeing a shift to other industries as well. A recent example is the platform Mibo, on which you can connect with friends and colleagues in a digital world. In addition, more and more services will become available in the digital world Metaverse in the coming period.


Digital ownership

Digital ownership involves owning digital assets. Think, for example, of Bitcoins and NFTs. An example of digital ownership in the form of NFTs is the company The Fabrikant that sells digital fashion. We expect that the range of different forms of digital ownership will continue to increase.


Digital access

Digital access grants you access to things that were previously more difficult to access due to physical limitations. We saw this form of a Digital Reality several years ago at the Rijksmuseum. It made its collection accessible digitally, and in high resolution, in the Rijks Studio. Another example are the VR tours offered by the company Specterras.


Digital collaboration

The fourth form of a Digital Reality is digital collaboration. Digital collaboration is a form of Digital Realities that removes physical limitations by making collaborations digital. The most famous example is the increasing use of MS Teams and Miro caused by the COVID pandemic. We are also seeing more and more digital collaboration in production environments, supported by Gemvision, for example.


Digital replaces physical

Finally, we see that operations that were previously performed by physical means or by humans are now digitally automated. We see this with many organizations introducing chatbots, Adyen making payments completely digital and Albert Heijn opening stores without cash registers.


Digital Design

Now that you know what value you want to create for whom, what forms of Digital Realities exist and for what purpose you want to deploy the Digital Reality within your business model, you can start designing this Digital Reality. It is important to remember that you are designing a Digital Reality to create sustainable value, not to show that you are using a cool technology or that you are keeping up with the technological changes.

The following six steps will help you design a Digital Reality.

  • Step 1: Start by mapping and understanding your target audience’s jobs, pains, and gains. Find out about their jobs to be done, what gets in their way of achieving this and what they are doing it for.
  • Step 2: The next step is to validate the jobs, pains, and gains. You do this through qualitative and quantitative experiments, such as interviews and surveys. In this way you can find out whether the assumptions you have about your target audience are correct.
  • Step 3: After this, you start designing the value. What do you want to promise your customers? What should this promise do? And through what products and services is this reflected?
  • Step 4: Next, you determine what digital technology you can use to do this. What new and existing technologies are there to help you do this? Can and do you want to develop something new?
  • Step 5: In this fifth step, you develop and test the technology, based on use-cases created in Step 3.
  • Step 6: During the final step, you validate whether the Digital Reality creates actual value. You can do this by using prototypes, MVPs and finally the actual solution. It is important that you keep iterating the solution based on your insights. After all, the world and your competitors are not standing still.

In practice, we often see that a new technology, or the combination of existing technologies, is the reason for creating a Digital Reality. This is because people often immediately see the potential of the Digital Reality. That’s not a bad thing, as long as you don’t forget to take a few steps back first. After all, you need to get the proper application of the technology clear first.

In this blog, you have read that deploying Digital Realities can therefore be a powerful tool to address the world’s current challenges. As I mentioned earlier, organizations play an important role in this. Through Digital Realities, we can create “Triple Value” business models. These business models deliver a net positive value for the environment (Planet), society (People) and the organization (Prosperity). Make sure you maximize the potential of a Digital Reality by designing it well from top to bottom (through strategy design, business model design and digital design).


Want to know more about designing Digital Realities? Please contact us or come to the DDW Talks about Digital Realities that we organize together with the Dutch Design Foundation on October 28, 2022, during Dutch Design Week.

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