Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, and IoT kickstarts the Design Thinking – Nitin Sethi

In Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Interviews

Nitin Sethi is a design thinker, working in building leading consumer facing Digital Platforms of India. He is currently leading IndiGo as VP Digital to help the group undergo Digital Transformation.

In an interaction with Techxty , Nitin Sethi talks about the design thinking for a digital future. Read On!

Tell us something about yourself and your professional journey?

My name is Nitin Sethi. You can call me a curious Design Thinker. I have spent close to two decades building leading consumer facing Digital Platforms of India. I am currently leading IndiGo as VP Digital to help the group undergo Digital Transformation. I previously built Quikr, Yatra, Naukri, Indiatimes, Rediff and Bharti Airtel. I love to craft loveable experience for the consumers through simple and usable products. I also mentors many startups and have invested in a few of them, as well. I also like to speak on Design Thinking on many public forums.

Why Design Thinking is critical for a digital future?

Design Thinking plays a critical role in making user centric user experience. It’s not only required for a good digital future but for a better present ecosystem. No iterative or disruptive innovations can be built without greater customer empathy. If any customer centric business needs to survive in the digital future, their process must include deeper consideration for primary and secondary users of the offering. It’s a vital ingredient for digital transformation success. Customer buying habits are changing, forcing many traditional businesses to innovate and change. In future scenario, customer offerings will demand continuous innovations, and infusing the company with a design-driven culture that puts customers first and enhances experience that can give us a distinct competitive edge over competition. Organisations and leaders needs to embrace design-driven culture for a bright future. Design thinking is an innovative foundation helping companies build their products, services, processes, and strategies. It’s about a likeable and loveable experiences.  Design Thinking enables a digital transformation strategy to keep up with changing consumer behaviour and needs. Future businesses needs to adapt to meet ever-changing customer expectations and engage with consumers in innovative ways. Future customers will demand simplicity, flexibility, transparency and speed. Therefore, design has become an essential tool in fulfilling their needs and providing positive experiences. Organisations must keep up, innovate, and use digital solutions & platforms to retain and build stronger customer relationships, as well as generating new revenue streams. Many global brands are using design thinking in their daily operations to offer their customers something new and innovative every day.

Is Design thinking the future of sales? What are you views on this?

Yes and No. It depends upon the business segment and leaders perspective. Let me share my view point on this. To implement design thinking, organisations require a big cultural change, so that employees and partners can more openly incorporate human centric design while business as a whole shapeup itself. For sales teams, there’s always pressure from leadership to continuously deliver. Design Thinking can help expanding a business’s knowledge to gain valuable insights into future success. Starting from the lead generation to conversion, the whole process needs innovative ways to disrupt the industry. The personal and human touch often go missing while we talk about building a sales pipeline. For decades, traditional analytical thinking was the only approach used to solve client-facing problems. However, with all the challenges and opportunities brought about by an increasingly technically advanced ecosystem, our approach for problem solving has to evolve as well. Key human skills like empathy, collaboration, leadership, innovation, communication, curiosity and creativity has to be embedded in our modern processes. Design Thinking can make a substantial difference the way we do business and create big opportunities. Times are changing, over the past few years, design thinking has quickly gained momentum in the business world. The sales cycle is becoming increasingly competitive & complex and customers are demanding a more personalised and contextual experience. The ROI has gone up by 100% for many successful brands after embracing design thinking in their processes. It’s high time sales teams recognise the value of design thinking and start implementing for more efficient and scalable processes. We need to stop treating customers like transactions. Starting from a small SME to a global corporate giant, all can benefit from design thinking principles ‘Empathise. Define. Ideate. Prototype. Test. Repeat.’

How artificial intelligence is a boon for design thinking?

Data is the new fuel and Design thinking helps establish trust and credibility. The combination is lethal. The most loveable customer experiences has been built with a right mix of AI and Design Thinking. Digital personalised experiences across industries are getting built with implementing both together. Design thinking encourages you to go deeper, to get closer and more in touch with your customers. Right use of AI and Design thinking allows for more authentic conversations. Today, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, and the Internet of Things provide the information that kickstarts the design thinking process while solving problems. Brands need to align with the values of its customers. It’s essential to think about AI from a design thinking perspective. IMO, Design Thinking and Machine Learning together has a game changing potential for any business. We need to start thinking about AI from the lens of design thinking, fruitful ideas come out automatically. We can then use AI as an enabler to enhance the customer experience on the platform. We don’t need to limit ourselves to consider technology to innovate. We can relate, prototype and test much faster if we leverage design thinking in Artificial Intelligence. Today, brands can use analytics, and AI for churn the information gathered from insights into patterns and trends that reveal what their customers need.

How internet of things is utility to design thinking?

This is not an easy question to answer. Another interesting perspective shared by many successful leaders is ‘How to Use Design Thinking to Build Better Internet of Things Products’. There is NO bullet proof strategy here. Brands and companies are looking at the IoT as core pillar to discover new product opportunities. The IoT for consumer and business applications, is still at a very nascent stage in India. Though, the Internet of Things market has been skyrocketing from last two-three years. The simple problem solving approach and design thinking can bridge this gap for us. IoT and Design Thinking having complementary merits in merging physical and digital worlds. With these two we can create better customer focused experiences for vehicles, wearables, industrial automation, smart cities and many applications. With Design Thinking framework while developing IoT driven technologies, product and services, we can create better quality of life. It leads to increased business productivity too. Many IoT products will fail despite having great technology cause they are not focused on solving real-world problems. Design Thinking is not only a process, but also a mindset. A mindset which always thinks ‘Customers First’. Always start by defining the problem to solve, even if you have a breakthrough IoT product in mind for the current market. The problem solving mindset & approach for current and future needs can really up the quality of our solutions. By applying Design Thinking to IoT, you can effectively implement intentional iterative innovation to solve the gaps and challenges to transform lives. The era of Intelligent technologies and the digital platforms created with the help of Design Thinking is not far 🙂

How big data analytics along with design thinking can help in business growth?

Big Data Analytics along with Design Thinking will form the core of business growth for all successful businesses as the customer centricity is becoming the most critical for the brands. It is about creating simple yet effective solutions that are realistic and executable fast. Many companies are looking to leverage the data they’ve gathered during customer journeys by designing innovative customer experiences. Business success is becoming more dependent on a company’s ability to exceed those expectations with every user interaction. Combining Design thinking with data becomes a potential goldmine. In present context, companies have more  data than ever. Design Thinking can help us choose right insights and form a firm perspective after we act on the data. With the blend of Design Thinking and Data Analytics one can continually engage with customers in an emotional way which can be exceptionally revolutionary, embedding the two can unlock new opportunities for organisations and let their customers have exceptional experiences. On the other hand, we need to understand that too much data is leading to data paralysis. Brands don’t need to act on all the feedbacks and should prioritise the action items with the right mix of customer empathy driven design thinking approach. World-class brands share one common trait which is acting smoothly on the data at the right point during the user journey. A magical journey awaits us if we have right mix of data and design. Techniques like customer journey mapping and empathy-driven prototyping helping us create better offerings for greater business success. Right set of data coupled with design research produces best insights to come-up with business growth hacks. Emotional design and storytelling are two ingredients which can make any B2B or B2C business successful. The users, not the product, technology or design leads. 

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