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Design Thinking – 6 Lessons in Innovation and Marketing Excellence

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27th Jan, 2021
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Design Thinking – 6 Lessons in Innovation and Marketing Excellence

This is a Guest Blog by Apurva Chamaria, Vice President and Head – Corporate Marketing, HCL Technologies.

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 film-less 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, thereby successfully re-imagining their business outlook:

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1. Rationalizing the bouquet of offerings – 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 re-position themselves in the consumer electronics market. With an acute understanding of prevailing market conditions, Apple discontinued two business lines. They reduced their core product catalog from 13 to just 3 – leading to a 2000% increase in share prices over 10 years.

Design Thinking is the New Normal – 6 Lessons in Innovation and Marketing Excellence UpGrad Blog

2. Discovering ‘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. It helped fine-tuning the plan, gathering feedback and creating a focused prototype and testing model.

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

Design Thinking is the New Normal – 6 Lessons in Innovation and Marketing Excellence UpGrad Blog

3. Managing 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.

Design Thinking is the New Normal – 6 Lessons in Innovation and Marketing Excellence UpGrad Blog

4. Connecting the past to the 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 crowd-sourcing 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

Design Thinking is the New Normal – 6 Lessons in Innovation and Marketing Excellence UpGrad Blog

5. Expanding the customer base – Microsoft embeds inclusion 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. It helps opening up their products and experiences to more people with a wider range of abilities, preferences and affordability.

Design Thinking is the New Normal – 6 Lessons in Innovation and Marketing Excellence UpGrad Blog

6. Innovation 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 of innovation in the healthcare sector. 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, to the extent of requiring sedation when scanned. Dietz transformed the CT/MRI suite into imaginary landscapes – camps, outer space or even oceanic views. As a result of this, customer satisfaction climbed to 90%.

Design Thinking is the New Normal – 6 Lessons in Innovation and Marketing Excellence UpGrad Blog

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The 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. It is highly competitive and 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 touch-points with respect to the customer engagement 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. All of which seamlessly communicate the core ethos of ‘Relationships beyond the Contract.’ 
Design Thinking is the New Normal – 6 Lessons in Innovation and Marketing Excellence UpGrad Blog

For a USD 7 billion organization, it’s important ensuring adoption across thousands of professionals who engage with customers on a daily basis, 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, the brand image as well as the brand experience by marrying the emotional with the functional. The impact of design thinking in brand campaigns and delivering a 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.

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Apurva Chamaria

Blog Author
Apurva is currently VP and Head of Corporate Marketing at HCL Technologies - one of the leaders in the global IT Industry. Apurva is an author at Bloomsbury India and venture partner at EDUGILD, where he advises StartUps in their digital strategies. He is the co-author of “You are the Key: Unlocking Doors Through Social Selling.” In UpGrad's Digital Marketing Program, he teaches how to build a robust digital marketing strategy and how to optimize conversions.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1How to manage the customer expectations?

For any business organisation, managing customer expectations is very important that helps to sales, but it is most challenging. The first rule is, always listen to what your customers are saying about your product and services. Second, be transparent and honest with all your actions. Third, provide clear timelines. Fourth, be flexible with your approach to handling every customer request and openly discuss solutions. And fifth, meet all the expectations as promised to the customer, but never exceed the promise made as it may create problems for your business in the long run.

2Why is innovation important in business?

In any business, innovation is the key to ensuring future growth and attracting customers. Innovation in businesses helps in taking advantage of the new technologies, thus making your business more agile and helping to stay ahead in the competition. The idea of Innovation is not just updating your business technologically, but it means finding new revenue opportunities, optimising cost and existing channels that would lead to new customer acquisition. An example of innovation in business transformation- moving from internal combustion engine cars to purely electric driven cars. Innovation leads to the creation of bigger opportunities.

3How do you expand your customer base in this highly digitized world?

As customers nowadays prefer online shopping over in-store visits, the customer acquisition process has completely changed. The process involves maintaining excellent customer support services, building an online presence through websites and social media channels, keeping website content fresh and updated, interacting with customers and valuing their feedback, etc.

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