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A Design Approach to Innovation in the Australian Energy Industry

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Electricity distribution businesses across Australia are facing many market disruptions, such as the increasing demand from the rapid uptake of domestic air conditioners and the contrasting problematic generation from solar power connections to the grid. In this context, the opportunity to proactively leverage forthcoming technological advances in battery storage and electric vehicles to address the steeply rising cost of electricity supply has emerged. This research explores a design approach to support a business to navigate such disruptions in the current market.

This study examines a design-led approach to innovation conducted over a tenmonth action research study within a large, risk-averse firm in the Australian energy sector. This article presents results describing a current foresight gap within the business; the response of the business to using design-led innovation to address this issue; and the tools, approaches and processes used. The business responses indicate their perception of the value of qualitative customer engagement as a path to addressing, and potentially benefiting from, disruptive innovation. It is anticipated that these results will further business model development within the company, and assist in leveraging disruptive innovations for this industry participant, thus limiting future increases in the cost of electricity supply for customers in Australia.
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Keywords: action research; design-led innovation; electricity supply; stakeholder insights

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Queensland University of Technology

Publication date: March 1, 2016

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  • The Journal of Design, Business & Society is a double-blind peer reviewed scholarly journal that aims to publish high-quality academic papers that examine the role of design in business and/or society, case studies, design critiques, and book reviews of relevant literature. Our aim is to promote cross-disciplinary research in the field of design. Therefore, in addition to design papers we are also interested in receiving manuscripts on research about design that are coming from non-design areas, such as business, marketing, management, health, psychology, social sciences, environmental sciences, and others.
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