Tigerspike's Mark Oliver says Design Thinking is transforming businesses in India and the world

21st Nov 2017
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Speaking to YourStory, Mark Oliver of Tigerspike gives an insight into Design Thinking and how it can impact businesses.

Over the last 40 years or so, a number of strategies have been devised to foster a systematic form of creativity within a business. Design Thinking is one such.

It attempts to inspire the essential element of creativity — the ability to take an abstract idea and create something with it. Based on the fundamental belief that an unexecuted idea — one that has not been realised — is a worthless proposition, Design Thinking considers ‘doing’ as equally valuable as ‘thinking’.

In an interaction with YourStory, Mark Oliver, Managing Director of Tigerspike — a global digital products and strategy company founded in 2003 and recently acquired by Concentrix — shared his perspective on Design Thinking and businesses.

Following are edited excerpts from the interview.

What is Design Thinking and how will it impact information technology?

Design Thinking will influence everything and drive our understanding of customer experience. An organisation can experiment with new technology efficiently with Design Thinking. Whether it aggressively wants to change its business or just wants to find new ways to improve its enterprise by understanding user experience, Design Thinking is exactly what it will need.

Once the organisation fully understands the details of various choices, it will be able to properly understand what the actual deliverable is and the kind of experience it is trying to create around the product. 

Could you share some of the use cases and methodologies you are talking about?

Tigerspike is a global business and we look at a variety of organisations and technologies for particular reasons. A lot of those large organisations are interested in exploring new technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Internet of Things (IoT). They tend to start with a very small proof of the concept or demo product, but never without properly understanding the customer experience that they need to provide.

The banking sector is a case in point; whether it is about exploring new technologies for payment with application programme, or cordless and touch payments systems, it’s all about the experience. We can deliver these things and make wonderful technological choices, but without the right experience or Design Thinking, adoption and engagement is a challenge.

Mark Oliver, Managing Director, Tigerspike

What is your definition of Design Thinking?

The lovely thing about Design Thinking is that it is a creative process. There are specialists who live and breathe Design Thinking, in the same way as the passionate people who believe in agile delivery techniques and framework. They are highly opinionated about the definition they have. And Design Thinking is very similar. So, the interpretation of Design Thinking is really powerful and should be encouraged. The way I look at Design Thinking is how it can influence cultures, how it can inspire individuals to try new things.

My definition of Design Thinking is that it is the ability to change the language within businesses that need to be changed. When you practice Design Thinking, you are running catalyst sessions, or interacting with and interviewing people who will be using the products before you even start thinking about their design. The practice of Design Thinking is slightly different from the vision of Design Thinking that I am passionate about.

Is there any difference between the application of Design Thinking in India and abroad? What is unique about the Indian market?

It is really important to understand the maturity of technology within a territory or within a market. We had different approaches and had different learnings about each one of our engagements. So, we have to be really empathetic about the way we look at new territories. And for us, understanding where we can add value to businesses and to enterprises, through their customer front-end or through their employee engagement, is crucial.

In the context of India, what we have learnt is to be patient and respectful, but also to lead our conversations and be confident that markets are at different levels of maturity. There might be the need to educate businesses about Design Thinking before they feel confident about investing. And we think that in India, there is a wonderful structure of great work from smaller agencies who are able to deliver excellent front-end design and digital products, but may not have the engineering rigour required for scaling a big project.

In India, we see large conglomerates of big advertising agencies who do a great job of speaking to the customer base, of designing for markets, but then, may struggle to talk an enterprise-language.

So, how is Design Thinking transforming your particular area of business?

Everybody in an organisation should understand and appreciate the value of Design Thinking. In cases wherein I have seen great change in organisations, the appreciation for Design Thinking goes all the way through the development process. So, where organisations may be siloed, and may have an engineering practice that likes to work in a particular way, I have observed that educating different departments and stakeholders about the value of Design Thinking has accelerated much over the last 12–24 months. There is exciting movement in technology, particularly in the way emerging markets or maturing markets are looking at technology.

Design Thinking is enabling businesses to understand and feel more confident about talking to their customers. Businesses are more confident about setting budgets for new technology initiatives. So, what I really see is that Design Thinking is profoundly impacting the level of confidence because more conversations are taking place with the people who are going to use the products that are being developed.

How does an enterprise adopt the Design Thinking process and how do they create momentum out of it?

The starting point is curiosity. Momentum cannot be built unless you change behaviours, and behaviours can’t be influenced unless you have clear values. If curiosity is valued, then you will allow and inspire people to think differently. Their behaviour can thus be changed quickly, which will lead to momentum. And then momentum leads to different processes because people trust them. So, I would say, to start any kind of Design Thinking process, the first part is education around the values of your organisation, how you think of your customers, how you think of your employees. Curiosity, empathy, and resilience need to be your values because there will be tough days when you will not achieve behaviour change and not gain momentum.

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