We’ve always known that good design leads to better customer experiences. But a new study from InVision, a digital product design platform provider, has discovered the benefits of a mature design practice deliver far more considerable benefits.

The New Design Frontier report, which surveyed more than 2200 companies across 24 industries, found companies that put design at the center of their strategic thinking see increases in cost savings, revenue gains, brand equity and share price. “When design takes center stage, it can have a direct impact on tangible business results,” the authors wrote.

Some of the differences are staggering:

  • 92 percent of the highest performing organizations (Visionaries) report their design team is responsible for increases in revenue — compared to just 22 percent of the lowest level firms.

  • More than half of Visionaries report that their design practice has led to increased valuation and/or shareholder value (just two percent of the least mature firms can make that claim.)

  • More than 80 percent of Visionaries say the design team drives cost savings and speeds up time to market (compared to less than 20 percent of less mature firms).

These visionaries don’t all come from Silicon Valley. The companies generating the most value from design come from different industries, including pharma, automotive, advertising, retail, and finance, and they are scattered across the world.

Maturity: It’s Not What You Think

Along with proving design’s value, the authors of this report dug into what makes a design organization mature — and the results may surprise you. It doesn’t have to do with the size of the design team or the seniority of its leaders.

Instead, they found that the most mature organizations are the ones that make design a strategic priority in all of their business activities, and include employees from across the company in design-decision making. “They are the ones using technology and design to redefine the standards for customer experience and business process excellence,” the authors report. In other words, they embrace a design thinking philosophy.

The authors report that top level firms “bring design thinking into the boardroom and employ design exploration to discover the next business opportunity.” Almost all visionaries (95 percent) say employees participate in the design process, 85 percent say employees “understand why human-centered design is valuable,” and 54 percent provide training on design thinking and human-centered design to employees and executives across the company.

The data proves once again that when companies create a culture where design thinking is woven into the fabric of the operation, they can disrupt their industries and steal market share from their less innovative peers.

How to Become a Visionary

If you are wondering where your firm lands on the design maturity scale — and what you can do to rise in the ranks, check out the handy appendix at the back of the 40-page report. It lays out exactly what the highest performing firms are doing to get ahead, which provides a useful blueprint for any organization that aspires to design maturity. Hint: offering design thinking training to employees across the company is a good place to start.