By Alan Murray and David Meyer
March 6, 2018

Good morning.

I’m in Singapore, where our Brainstorm Design conference got under way a few hours ago. The premise of this new event is that design has become a key driver of business success. Why? Harry West, CEO of frog (I don’t know why it’s not capitalized), explained it this way: “Over the last 20 years or so, customers have been given much more power, more choice, and more ways to express their choice.” As a result, design has become a critical differentiator. “Brand communication still matters, but brand experience matters more.”

While the importance of design in business is on the rise, its effective integration into large companies apparently still has a way to go. “There is a big difference between saying design is important, and actually following through,” said Maria Giudice, the vice president of experience design at Autodesk. “I’m not sure companies know how to do it.”

One problem, according to Derrick Kiker of McKinsey and Jeanne Liedtke of Virginia’s Darden School, is that business people are trained to focus on efficiency, and design solutions can often add cost and inefficiency. But Liedtke says her research shows that a strong focus on customer-centric design can not only produce better products and services, but also help drive cultural change. We write a lot here at CEO Daily about how new technologies are going to force a rethink of virtually every business in every industry. It’s design, the folks here in Singapore argue, that will help companies navigate those changes successfully.

“I think it’s going to be vital for CEOs in the future” to be more fluent in design, said West. “Their products and services will need to change; customers will demand (them) to be ever better. You get there through design.”

Enjoy your Tuesday (mine is nearly over.) You can follow the conversations at Brainstorm Design here or by subscribing to the just-launched occasional newsletter Business by Design that will keep you up to speed on design, innovation, smarter corporate thinking, and the goings-on in Singapore this week.

News below.

Alan Murray
@alansmurray
alan.murray@fortune.com

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