Design Thinking: The New DNA of the Financial Sector Focus on Customer, Creativity and Diversity

The financial services sector is facing multiple challenges, from increased regulatory demands to sluggish economic growth and low interest rates. Fintech startups such as PayPal threaten to undermine traditional revenue sources and ways of doing business.

Design thinking may provide the solution, by seeking to answer the question: “How can banks boost their growth by successfully applying design thinking in a de-banking era?”

Just talking about being “customer centric” and “user experience” doesn’t cut it. Every organisation talks about their focus on the customer – few execute. And the reason is that they need a process – this is where Design Thinking comes in. It is a well designed, tried and tested process that we, at Ideafarms, work with many of our clients to build design and customer empathy at the heart of the organisation, not at the edge.

The rapid pace of development witnessed in 21st century civilization has turned many a world upside down. Disruptive products, services and technologies continue to manifest at an almost unfollowable rate, while societies and markets exhibit increasing magnitudes of complexity.

In such a complex world, where consumer, market and industry dynamics are constantly shifting, how can the banking sector keep pace? How can it ensure the services, products and experience it provides evolve with the needs and expectations of the 21st century individual?

Design thinking puts the end-user, the customer, at the center, and creates a workplace atmosphere that encourages creative ideas and values diverse teams. It requires that leadership shifts the way it devises strategy, beginning by understanding client needs and behaviors and then working back from there.

And there have been notable success stories of banks using design thinking, from Singapore’s OCBC Bank, to Auckland Savings Bank, Bank of America, Barclays PLC and National Australian Bank.

The Design Thinking process can help financial services companies understand customer needs and behaviors, allowing firms to build out prototypes, test and learn from them, and finally launch the products and services that will help them succeed.

Improving the user experience will better banks’ customer relationships and add to the value proposition of the bank’s business model.

“We believe that while the banking sector is going through a period of disruption driven by digitization, new regulations, changing customer behaviors, low growth perspectives, a sticky cost base, and increased competition, this is not the end of the sector. Our view, instead, is that this marks the genesis of the banking sector’s new DNA: a combination of changes in business models, agile execution, and design thinking.” 


Further reading:

Design Thinking goes to Tihar Jail… creating theatre workshops for female inmates

While we all somewhat enjoy learning, being tested on what we’ve learnt is not always fun. But the cool thing is when we start doing, the theory starts being tested, not us!

And this process is so satisfying. Through it I’m gaining the maximum insights. With the guidance of Ideafarms, and in collaboration with Lady Shri Ram College (LSR), I am in the process of designing a month-long theatre workshop for female inmates at the Tihar Jail, using DESIGN THINKING!

After rigorous on-the-job training at Ideafarms and focused self-study of Design Thinking, I have come to believe in its immense scope and power. Now, I eagerly go out into a different field of play and test the reach of its scope.

It is a journey filled with uncertainty and anticipation, and I am loving every minute of it – from training LSR volunteers to going into the field and testing our prototypes.

We had our first session one week back and have used all the responses and feedback we got to sketch out the next 12 sessions. We plan to treat every session as a prototype and iterate on the process as we go along. While this approach can be challenging and may not result in a concrete output at the end of the month – like a play or skit, we are confident that, through our journey with the participants, we will leave them with an understanding of theatre and an ability to use it as they deem fit – whether for expressing, story-telling or performing.

With eagerness to see the workshops unfold, I go in today for our second session. Let’s see how the ball rolls!

 

Design Thinking with Women Entrepreneurs "Why should boys have all the fun?"

Less than 10% of startups have women as a co-founder. It is stated that about 73% women entrepreneurs failed to get funding from Venture Capitalists.” – WEEfoundation.org

The statistics about Women Entrepreneurs shock me. Not because I have lost touch with reality, but because I am slightly optimistic about change and the speed at which it occurs.

Women Entrepreneurship and Empowerment (WEE) Foundation, IIT Delhi wants to help change these statistics. They have developed a curriculum for the 30 selected participants that is designed to target the specific needs and challenges faced by women in India. I am proud that we contributed our bit to the movement. Last Sunday, we conducted a Design Thinking Primer with them.

In order to practice Design Thinking it becomes necessary to adopt certain mind-sets – being empathetic, being open to failure, being sensitive to feedback and more. This is what makes the methodology so valuable to me and gives me the confidence that if adopted, it can accelerate change.

I also believe that our ultimate goal for Design Thinking must be to use it to create accurate and sustained Social Impact. Being able to share it with the WEE entrepreneurs has taken us one step closer to this goal and I’m excited to see what’s next.

It was refreshing to deliver a Design Thinking primer, alongside Mr. Sunil Malhotra to the group of inquisitive and energetic women with ideas they want to share with the world. Though it was a post lunch session – and we’ve all attended one of those – the interactive nature of the primer kept energy levels high!

In the two hour session we presented and discussed design and it’s distinction from art, craft and Design Thinking, as well as the ‘What’, ‘Why’ and ‘How’ of the much discussed methodology. My favourite part, was sharing exemplifying stories – it always drives the point home!

The session in action...
The session in action…

It was definitely a Sunday well spent for us and I hope that the participants of the session gained equal or more value than we gained conducting it!

Mobile technology for Disease Surveillance

smartapp_healthwatch_01

In a previous post, we highlighted the importance of data, and the inherent flaw in collecting data through paper forms. We also suggested that technology can improve the integrity and timeliness of data.

Real world application – tackling Dengue

The past couple of months have seen a rise in the number of dengue cases in Delhi. Given the sheer size of a city like Delhi, disseminating civic agencies to every nook and corner, in equal measure, is neither feasible nor useful.

The most affected localities would take a higher priority and need a higher number of resources. Identifying such areas through traditional data gathering tools will result in data which is likely to be too late.

What is required in such a scenario is a tool through which accurate data can be captured and analysed in near real time.

Mapping diseases in real time
Mapping diseases in real time

Imagine if diseases were reported as soon as they were diagnosed, and each diagnosis could be displayed as a pin on a map. The more the number of cases, the higher the number of pins. A locality with a high concentration of pins will draw attention immediately, thus making it easy to identify where resources need to be deployed urgently.

Enter HealthWatch.

HealthWatch is a disease surveillance platform for capturing real-time data about the spread of diseases and visualization of the data captured.

With domain expertise provided by St. Stephen’s hospital, HealthWatch was designed to replace the existing system of data gathering used in the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme.

The HealthWatch platform (pilot in Delhi-NCR) consists of 2 parts:

a smart phone app
a map-based analytics dashboard

Doctors can use the App to report diseases as they diagnose them. Each disease and associated symptoms are mapped to the doctor’s location. Data obtained through the App is aggregated and presented in real-time on a map for healthcare professionals to identify vulnerable areas and take appropriate measures to manage the spread of diseases.

Read more about the HealthWatch platform here.

The what and why of web design

Desktops, laptops, tablets, televisions, mobile phones, phablets and now even watches. There are more internet enabled devices in the market today, than ever before. And a gag these days is:

So you want to be a web designer? This is what you will be dealing with:

The viewport landscape
Image Source: Gareth Williams

From 300 pixels to a whopping 2000 pixels — that’s the range over which web content can be viewed today. Making sure all users get an optimum experience on their devices is by far the biggest challenge designers and developers face. And if there is one buzzword that has been floating around to combat this challenge, it is ‘Responsive Web Design’.

A single site that magically adjusts to whatever device screen is used to hit it.

Responsive frameworks. Media Queries. JavaScript Hacks.

Ever since Ethan Marcotte first coined the term Responsive Web Design in his now very famous article, a plethora of tools have sprung up, to make the process of creating a responsive website less painful.

But do we really understand what is responsive design, and why we are talking about it? All too often web designers & developers have tended to look at a responsive website as a chore, or worse — an afterthought. Define a few break-points and apply a few readily available tools to make sure everything looks okay.

The fundamental purpose of a website has always been about communication and interaction. But somewhere along the way, reusable code has killed the craft of true designers. This is not to say that reusable code is bad. What matters is that content is accessible, and interfaces are usable. That is what web design has always been about.

In his article A Dao of Web Design*, John Allsopp wrote:

Make pages which are accessible, regardless of the browser, platform or screen that your reader chooses or must use to access your pages. This means pages which are legible regardless of screen resolution or size, or number of colors (and remember too that pages may be printed, or read aloud by reading software, or read using braille browsers). This means pages which adapt to the needs of a reader, whose eyesight is less than perfect, and who wishes to read pages with a very large font size.

To call ourselves designers, it is imperative to internalize the why, and what of web design, before diving into the how aspect of it. To address this within our organisation, we organised a workshop with a live case study on the meaning of ‘Responsive Web Design’.

It was an interesting session, with lots of insights being shared. And we like to share our discussion with you. So here’s the accompanying presentation for our workshop. We hope you find as much value in it, as we did.


* A Dao of Web Design is a must read for all web designers. If web design was a religion, this article would probably qualify as a scripture.

Ideafarms has a new website!

Brand new website

Ideafarms.com has been revamped and we are very excited to share it with you.

As always we are looking forward to your feedback. Any kind of criticism or “Aww! That’s nice!” is wholeheartedly welcome. You can reach out to us at its.magic@ideafarms.com or on facebook, twitter and linkedin.

Social Apps

Quick! A show of hands to see how many of you thought this was yet another post about yet another Social Media app? All of you?! Thought as much. Unfortunately, even a search on Google for “Social Apps” reveals a lot of Social Media apps and not any that matched our understanding of the term – Apps that can help / provide enablement to help with Social Causes.

The idea came to our CEO, Sunil Malhotra while watching the Satyamev Jayate episodes – Why isn’t anyone thinking of mobile solutions for the social sector?

Which obviously led to the question – Is someone thinking about Mobile solutions that can help?

Why Mobile?

Mobile phones are becoming the common man’s computer – available with all of us wherever we go and keeping us always connected – could they be used to empower the Social sector?

What is it about mobility solutions that make them perfect tools to become a vehicle of aid?

1. Their pervasiveness – in developing countries like India basic feature phones have managed to reach even into the rural areas.

A glimpse at the mobile market in India. (source: http://ibnlive.in.com/news/india-cellular-market-booms-but-not-for-operators/125678-11.html)

2. It’s a personal device and available with us wherever we go. In an emergency we naturally reach for our phones.

3. Simplicity of use – “ stripped of complex menus and navigation and even your kids have figured out how to use your phone better than you.

And just the basic fact that mobile solutions and smart phones have triggered everybody’s imagination and resulted in brilliant innovative ideas that touch every aspect of our life.

Let’s see some examples …

Close at the heels of the Satyamev Jayate episodes was the very unfortunate incident of the Guwahati molestation case. There was huge outrage and a lot of people expressed their anger and frustration, some through blog posts. Amidst all the outrage it was quite pleasant to see there was a sane voice of a young software engineer Shantanu (goes by @tantanoo on twitter) who wrote this post http://tantanoo.com/random-rants/2012/07/aftermath/ . In this post he explores ideas about how technology could come to the rescue in such situations. What stood out for me is that he peeks outside the proverbial box, into other boxes and draws parallels from the likes of natural defense mechanisms in the animal kingdom, from ongoing research in the Department of Defense and other apps developed across the globe (apparently there are quite a few of them out there!).

For example he talks about how maybe on the trigger of a button, the phone could shriek out loudly on your behalf (because let’s admit it, in most situations when we are caught off guard, though we do believe we need to raise our voice, we are not able to) or emit a smell so offensive (like a skunk does when its attacked) that the attacker is stunned. Do go through his post. Highly recommended.

It’s also heartening to see that someone has already made the first move in India. An Indian non-profit organization WhyPoll has launched a smart app called “Fight Back” which can help women fight sexual assault. The app lets women immediately alert friends and family if they feel threatened via SMS, email or facebook and they can in turn reach out to help or alert police who make help available faster. Similar apps are available and functional outside India too but its good to see someone make a move in the positive direction in our country too. The app and service I believe is currently available in Delhi and NCR only. Maybe a little more concerted effort is needed even from our authorities to recognize the value of such an initiative and roll it out country-wide.

First Smart App from India to help women reach out for help in case of a threat.

There were many such issues raised by the team of Satyamev Jayate – that are close to all of our hearts and we all feel something should be done about it. I am sure there are many ways in which technology and design thinking can come together in crafting effective solutions to address these malice. Much like pointed out in Shantanu’s post, a little out-of-the-box thinking is required, taking into account real-life scenarios and borrowing ideas from the life around us.  We would love to hear from you if you have any such interesting ideas or know of any Smart App ideas that have been / are being implemented in the Social sector. The iron is hot thanks to efforts like Satyamev Jayate. Let’s not let the fire die down!

Also Read:

Award Winning Case Studies @ Cannes Lions 2012

The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is a global event held annually at Cannes, France. It took place from 17 to 23 June this year. The festival showcased some fantastic ideas and work from several creative professionals around the globe. We bring you some of the best work in interactive, digital, design and smart technology space that we found really interesting.

 

Augmented Mobile Experience

1. A Shadow QR code, that works using the sunlight’s shadow to give people a unique lunch shopping experience. This campaign won the Direct Lions Gold Award.

httpv://youtu.be/EvIJfUySmY0

2. BAND-AID Magic Vision: Featuring the Muppets, a mobile AR experience that turns any ordinary BAND-AID Brand adhesive Muppets bandage or box into a stage for interactive entertainment so that kids forget the pain and enjoy. This campaign won the Mobile Lions Gold Award.

httpv://youtu.be/FE2I6G2_ogk

3. An augmented reality (AR) app created to help find the best students while giving them a taste of what life is like as a Medical Officer. This campaign won the Direct Lions Gold Award.

httpv://youtu.be/oUNm_n61maU

 

Innovative use of Technology

4. An annual report that could only be read under sunlight. Crafted by mixing right ratio of the photochromatic colours, in order to render the report all white under artificial light. This campaign won the Design Lions Grand Prix Award.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cahedLjFSmw

5. VIP experience for loyal customers of Red Tomato, by giving them fridge magnets in which with a press of a button, it would automatically place an order for their favorite pizza. This campaign won the Mobile Lions Gold Award.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFji6MbyxOI

Innovative Technology for mobile

6. Google partnered with Coca-Cola to create a mobile app that lets you gift a Coke can through a special vending machine anywhere across the globe to a stranger. This project won the First Cannes Mobile Grand Prix.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45Z-GevoYB8&feature=player_embedded


Ideas that can make a difference

7. Catching people while they’re already bleeding, by putting a simple marrow registry kit into a box of over-the-counter bandages, and turning an everyday act into a chance to save a life. This campaign won the Grand Prix for Good Lions Award.

httpv://youtu.be/ZG8NxjlyUxU

8. Minus One is a simple, one-step initiative to save fast-disappearing forests. A green initiative by Samsung Printers. This project won the Media Lions Silver Award.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KThJoYt4ml8

9. American Express created Small Business Saturday, a new shopping day right after Black Friday, to help small businesses get more customers. This campaign won the Direct Lions Grand Prix Award.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIYHjs1vEAo

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3 Point Something

 

Since the advent of smartphones and mobile applications, many enterprises are exploring ways in which they can take their business or parts of their business mobile .  We have ourselves helped organisations design concepts for how their Sales, Marketing or Field Service executives can be empowered with Smart Devices as well as Smart Collateral.

Although Mobile is the obvious way to go,  a mobile solution cannot be approached with a traditional desktop or even the web mindset. You cannot just package an existing desktop/web solution into a smaller screen and call it mobile. “Mobility is not Miniaturisation“.

Smart Devices are highly personal – so much so that a lot of companies are promoting the B.Y.O.D philosophy – they are always on, always with us, usually connected and directly addressable.

Which is why when our CEO, Mr Sunil Malhotra was requested to speak at the CII Conference on Mobile Business, he talked about “3 Point Something”  the 3 main factors – What, Why and How – any organisation should consider when they decide to go mobile.

We would love your feedback on the presentation. If you have an app idea or would even like to explore ideas on how your organisation can go mobile, get in touch with us. We have specially structured our offerings to help you Ideate, Design and Develop your Smart Apps.

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Innovation for Leadership [Video Mashup]

Sunil Malhotra, our CEO (or the Chief Instigator as we like to call him) was invited to conduct a workshop on Innovation  at a MNC recently. As a precursor to his presentation, and to welcome back people for the post-lunch session, we put together this mashup of videos. We share the video here as a quick capsule for anyone in a leadership position to understand what they need to do to run a sustainable innovation program in their organisation.

<Disclaimer: There is nothing original about this presentation>

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTTwkMv5r9E

Let us know what you think. We would love to hear your views on the topic.

 

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