Design Thinking: Creating Exponential Value

By Sunil Karkera, head of TCS Interactive

The technology-fueled shift over the last five years – driven by breakthroughs in cloud computing, big data, analytics, mobile, and artificial intelligence – has changed the way enterprises approach the challenge of providing exceptional customer experience.

The enterprises that succeed in the digital age will be “Business 4.0” enterprises that embrace risk, hyper-personalize experiences for customers and employees, and leverage ecosystems of partners and technologies. Ultimately, a Business 4.0 enterprise can develop new business models and entirely new services that use today’s technologies and enablers (agile, automation, intelligence and cloud computing) to create exponential value at scale.  

The reality of this change is obvious. But how you turn that change into strategy, and ultimately, into value – is less clear. That’s why we’ve adopted a powerful approach that helps enterprises discover and develop big ideas: design thinking. 

Ideate your future 

Design thinking allows you to find the big idea in a way that’s focused, but spontaneous; structured, but flexible; and focuses very squarely on the what. In the last few years, design thinking has emerged as a key tool for designers, engineers and business professionals in delivering powerful user experiences and generating new enterprise opportunities. 

For example, take a retail bank that has been serving customers for 75 years. For most of its history, the bank offered a growing range of products through an expanding branch network. As digital technology matured, it slowly but steadily built digital experiences through the web and apps. The bank has constantly reinvented how it serves customers, but now it needs to reinvent what it does for customers. Design thinking can help by providing a full spectrum of techniques for out-of-the-box creative thinking, prototyping, testing and validation. 

A design-thinking approach starts with encouraging divergence and gathering people from different functions and areas of expertise to brainstorm and explore ideas. You would brief the group on the current what is, then start generating ideas about what could be. This is based on the capabilities of digital technologies, along with changing consumer behavior. 

How would you reinvent banking to serve today’s customers and tomorrow’s? What kind of services do consumers want and need in a world where cash is essentially an afterthought? How do you engage customers to give you more of their financial assets to manage?  

Engaging with these questions in a design thinking workshop can lead to radical ideas:  

  • A completely automated, transparent investment strategy that reflects an up-to-the-minute, hyper-personalized understanding of customer income, free cash flow and financial/life goals 
  • A customer experience so differentiating and satisfying to end-users that they aren’t even tempted to shop around 

Design thinking can differentiate a company and its service offerings, and it can lead to new levels of engagement and business opportunities.

Related: How To Inspire Creative Marketing Teams

How design thinking works 

While all design-thinking tactics are tailored to the company and situation at hand, the methodologies used share common elements. Design thinking involves up-front research on topics like personae, customer journeys, the competitive landscape, and enterprise goals. Design thinking also demands a high level of customer (or employee) empathy. Every participant should be able to understand and relate to issues, frustrations, needs and wants. The question isn’t, “what can we do better?” but, “what new or emerging needs can we address?” 

Technology informs the entire process because you’re always thinking about the possibilities afforded by the cloud, analytics, AI, as well as digital experiences like augmented and virtual reality. But, the design-thinking process itself is low-tech. Ultimately, design thinking is about ideas, and ideas become even more powerful when people can contribute freely and with as little self-censorship as possible.  

Design thinking often generates game-changing ideas that can be quickly implemented and scaled. Perhaps even more important, design thinking fosters a culture of innovation that can change an enterprise’s DNA, enabling a continuous stream of new ideas and new businesses. 

About the Author

Sunil is an engineer by profession, and over the past 20 years, he founded three successful startups in Silicon Valley (wireless products, SaaS solutions and mobile applications), led information systems groups at News Corporation and worked and consulted for companies such as Nest, Westinghouse, Dell-Sonicwall, Lockheed and Siebel. He is also a trained typographer.

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