The importance of empathy in it projects: A case study on the development of the German electronic identity card
Paper i proceeding, 2011

Although there is a great interest in user driven innovation, the IT industry still shows a strong focus on technology driven innovation development. Understanding the perspective and social context of the user also is not part of a regular technical education. As a result, IT development shows a tendency to concentrate on technical issues while often missing the users‟ actual needs. This case study describes how disregarding the users‟ needs caused serious problems regarding the introduction of the electronic identity card (e-IC) in Germany. We argue that this lack of user-centeredness is a direct result of the underestimated value of empathy and empathic knowledge within many IT projects. We consider empathy to be of crucial importance in the development of IT projects, and it is due to this that we employ the user-centered and problem-solving approach of design thinking. The conclusion reached is that the more active attention is paid to empathy throughout a given project, the less likely are unfeasible products, increasing costs and avoidable time delays.


design thinking

electronic identity card

empathic design.

public sector


Eva Köppen

Ingo Rauth

Chalmers, Teknikens ekonomi och organisation, Innovation and R&D Management

Maxim Schnjakin

Christoph Meinel

Proceedings of the 18th ICED International Conference on Engineering Design-Impacting Society Through Engineering Design, Copenhagen: 15 August 2011through18 August 2011, 7 s. 162-169



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