The relevance of Design Thinking in the digital age

Firms like Infosys, Yes Bank, the Tata group and the Mahindra Group of companies, are using design thinking principles to improve their competitiveness

Long before Design Thinking became a buzzword, Steve Jobs, the late founder of Apple, remarked that one has to start with the customer experience and work backwards towards the technology and not the other way around. Every Apple product has been built using this approach, and this perhaps explains the company’s huge success in almost every product category. Apple was one of the earliest proponents of design thinking principles.

Put simply, this means that enterprises must step into the shoes of their customers and think about what customers would love to have. It also means unlearning traditional ways to solve a problem, and think of coming up with something that creates immense value for the customer.

Design Thinking is more relevant in the digital age, as the pace of innovation has accelerated and the next Uber or Airbnb can disrupt any industry. Take for instance, a firm like Infosys, which is trying to reinvent itself by incultating the principles of design thinking.

Under Vishal Sikka, the firm is trying to completely change the traditional model by incorporating design thinking in some of its major processes. For example, software engineers have to mandatorily come up with a better and efficient way to complete a project, and look at innovations within their own projects with the ultimate goal of exceeding expectations for the client. Thanks to design thinking, the company has more than doubled its share of large deal wins.

Another case in point is Yes Bank, one of India’s fastest growing private banks. The bank has applied design thinking principles in identifying the gaps in targeting the urban poor, by observing and talking to the concerned people. The bank found out that migrants were losing a lot of time and money as they were forced to stand in long queues at the banks to send money to their native places. These migrants did not need a savings account. They just needed a faster way to quickly remit money to their family members.

Yes Bank addressed this problem by creating Yes Money terminals, which were given to the small merchants or paanwallas, who were authorized sub-business correspondents with the bank. Migrant labourers could use the terminal at the nearest location to send money. While the most obvious way would have been to open bank accounts for the poor, Yes Bank followed a different strategy using design thinking principles.

Besides Infosys and Yes Bank, the Tata and the Mahindra Group of companies, have started using design thinking principles to improve their competitiveness. While the number of Indian firms applying design thinking principles is relatively small today, expect this trend to accelerate in the digital era as new entrants try to change traditional markets completely through a totally different approach. The choice for incumbents is clear – disrupt or be disrupted.

customer experienceCXdesign thinkingMahindra & MahindraTata SonsYES Bank
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