[Research] Jeffrey Huang
Yesterday, I met Jeffrey Huang, who is Associate Professor at the Harvard Department of Architecture. We had a interesting chat about my phd and CatchBob. Huang, J., "Future Space: A Blueprint for a New Business Architecture," Harvard Business Review, April 2001.
Although the Internet is an essential conduit for many business activities, it isn't rendering the physical world any less important, as the failures of many Web merchants demonstrate. People need social and sensual contact. The companies that succeed will be those best able to integrate the physical and the virtual. But that requires a new kind of business architecture--a new approach to designing stores, offices, factories, and other spaces where business is conducted. The author, a faculty member at Harvard Graduate School of Design, provides practical guidelines to help managers and entrepreneurs think creatively about the structures in which their businesses operate. He outlines four challenges facing designers of such "convergent" structures, so-called because they function in both physical and virtual space: matching form to function, allowing visitors to visualize the presence of others, personalizing spaces, and choreographing connectivity. Using numerous examples, from a fashion retailer that wants to sell in stores as well as through a Web site to a radically new kind of consulate, the author shows how businesses can meet each challenge. For instance, allowing customers to visualize the presence of others means that visitors to a Web site should be given a sense of other site visitors. Personalizing physical and virtual spaces involves using databases to enable those spaces to adapt quickly to user preferences. The success of companies attempting to merge on-line and traditional operations will depend on many factors. But without a well-designed convergent architecture, no company will fully reap the synergies of physical space and Internet technology.