Design Thinking is the New Normal – Six Lessons in Innovation and Marketing Excellence

In 2012, Kodak filed for bankruptcy after 128 years of being a market leader, simply because it failed to predict the disruptive power of the digital camera. Ironically, 37 years ago a Kodak engineer created a filmless-camera prototype; the experimental variant was shelved amid fears of an adverse impact on Kodak’s core product sales.

Clearly, products – like their customers – are always on the evolution curve, and require smarter strategies. This is exactly where Design Thinking plays a pivotal role, combining product innovation with a steady eye on current and latent user demands.

Design thinking is a solution-oriented, human-centered approach to innovation. Consumer considerations lie at the heart of a design thinking approach.

A pioneer in this space, Tim Brown, the CEO of IDEO identified three key elements at the core of a design-based roadmap – insight, observation, and empathy. Taking a leaf from his seminal work, here are 6 organizations that put these principles into action, therefore successfully reimagining their business outlook:

  1. #1: Rationalize the offering bouquet – Apple takes a ‘stripped-down’ approach

    This is how Steve Jobs redefined design for a customer-centric universe – “Make it look good! That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

    Apple deployed design thinking to completely reposition themselves in the consumer electronics market. With an acute understanding of prevailing market conditions, Apple discontinued 2 business lines, reduced their core product catalog from 13 to just 3 – leading to a 2000% increase in share prices over 10 years.

  2. Discover ‘human’ undercurrents – Denver Museum restructures its pricing strategy

    Denver Museum of Nature & Science unraveled the many complexities in visitor demands, enabling services that would enjoy wider acceptance.

    Conceptualizing a discount program for low-income visitors, the museum took their ideas to the larger community – fine-tuning the plan, gathering feedback and creating a focused prototype and testing model.

    Interestingly, the initiative revealed a few key observations – family-driven activities over singular, budget options.

  3. Manage customer expectations - AirBnB boosts retention rates

    AirBnB increased guest-host harmony by addressing the unique challenge of pairing dissimilar clients. Combining analytics and data from over 100 quantitative surveys, the ‘Why Hosts Reject’ review laid out several logistical (and emotional) explanations.

    AirBnB dramatically minimized host reluctance by sharing customized guest-information portfolios, built on a ‘tree-structure taxonomy of reasons’. Design thinking and design research informed their strategic decision making.

  4. Connect past to future – All Nippon Airways fosters entrepreneurship

    Japan’s largest airline, ANA is using its Digital Design Lab (DDL) to strengthen the Japanese startup ecosystem. DDL is a group of 5 key members and 20 company ambassadors, involved in identifying unique opportunities and disseminating execution plans. DDL works as a team on the periphery, analyzing questions and issues (avatars, AR, drones etc.) that might come to transform ANA in the future.

    In 2016, they established WonderFLY – an entrepreneurial platform that provides funds for prototype creation, followed by a crowdsourcing campaign. What differentiates WonderFLY is its unwavering focus on creativity and customer centricity. ANA expects no direct ROI, despite allowing access to its own pool of investors and stakeholders.

  5. Expand the customer base – Microsoft embeds inclusivity in development

    Microsoft uses Design Thinking principles to develop products with greater – and universal – usability. For instance: a font and text-wrapping system addressing those with reading impairment and a Bing Map version utilizing common landmarks for easy navigation.

    The company’s Design Thinking toolkit, Inclusive Design identifies gaps in user experience, broad-basing brand presence for a wider and all-encompassing customer footprint, and opening up their products and experiences to more people with a wider range of abilities, preferences and affordability.

  6. Innovate with a purpose – Healthcare adds empathy to industrial design

    In the future, Design Thinking will have a profound impact on customer engagement across sectors – industrial designer Doug Dietz’s CT/MRI scanner is an iconic example. A workshop on Design Thinking at Stanford University equipped him with the tools needed for ‘empathy-driven’ industrial design.

    He observed that pediatric patients were battling acute stress, requiring sedation when scanned. Dietz transformed the CT/MRI suite into imaginary landscapes - camps, outer space or oceanic views— customer satisfaction, as a result, climbed to 90%.

he HCL Perspective – Design Thinking and Us

HCL Technologies has for several years imbibed principles of Design Thinking especially in the consistent usage of emotional language in the delivery of customer experiences. In the highly competitive, hard to differentiate B2B IT Services industry, where neither products nor pricing strategies offer an organization a chance to stand out, HCL has positioned itself in the relationship realm, which is an emotional value proposition for the long haul.

This core emotional value proposition has to manifest across all touchpoints a customer engages with the company – sales and account marketing teams are empowered with films, premium CXO-level giveaways, sales collateral, customer pitch presentations, facility and event branding, communication templates, web properties that all seamlessly communicate the core ethos of Relationship beyond the Contract™.

Ensuring adoption across thousands of professionals who engage with customers on a daily basis for a USD 7 billion organization necessitated customer satisfaction workshops, webinars, training videos that enabled our design principle based interventions to enter the buying cycle like never before.

Design plays a major role in developing both the brand image as well as the brand experience, marrying the emotional with the functional. The impact of design thinking in brand campaigns and delivering one-of-a-kind unique customer intimacy, has led to HCL becoming the fastest growing technology services brand in the market in the last 5 years’ basis the 2017 Brand Finance Global 500 Brands Report.

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