How Design Thinking is Transforming Businesses Through Technology
Today’s most successful companies understand the imperative to put consumers at the center of their business. But not all know how to turn customer-centricity into a competitive advantage. Rackspace, with partners Microsoft, Sitecore and SapientRazorfish, recently held a breakfast briefing in Hong Kong for chief marketing officers to share insights on how design thinking generates business success and helps to bring to market products and service experiences that deliver on consumer needs. It’s clear that design thinking is rapidly becoming the mindset of choice for innovative businesses who want to engage, understand and co-create with their customers.
What is design thinking?
Design thinking is a tool Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, also known as the d.school, has taught to engineering students since 2006, so it’s not new, but its application outside of product development is. Design thinking is a problem-solving process that focuses on solving the needs of a specific group of people: in our case, it’s customers. The approach aims to match customer needs with what is technologically possible and convert this into a business strategy that offers value and market opportunity. Design thinking can be used by all types of businesses as no one can ignore the changing needs and desires of their clients. For long-term success, companies need to fully exploit what currently works while exploring new ideas. Achieving this kind of balance involves constant reassessment of what customers want. James Chiu, managing director of SapientRazorfish Hong Kong, has crafted award-winning experiences for many global brands. In his presentation, he explored how design thinking generates business success by helping to reframe, ideate, design and bring to market product and service experiences that deliver on consumer needs. Its importance can’t be overstated, he noted: design creates your business culture, culture shapes values, and values determine the future. To successfully apply this mindset, Chiu said businesses must do a few things: Incubate innovation. This can be through ideation workshops where people spend time defining problems. There needs to be time and space for further refinement of concepts, prototyping and testing (proof of concepts). Most businesses rush through this stage, but they shouldn’t. Physical space that serves design thinking. A world of cubicles and closed offices doesn’t suit the approach; open office spaces allow for collaboration and communication. Stimulation is key. To enable curiosity and conversation, stimulation is vital. Break down teams into groups and get them to map out their strategies on the wall. Keep the end customer at the heart of each stage. Asking what customers need first helps organizations to ensure their digital investments are less risky and more likely to drive growth.
Design thinking in action
William Lau, general manager of Sitecore Hong Kong, put theory into practice by sharing two case studies, Atlantis and Dollywood, showing how Sitecore’s CMS platform shapes customer-centric experiences through contextual intelligence for clients. The platform has helped CMOs better understand their customers and in turn create new, revenue-generating experiences for their brands. Connected customers are mobile-first and expect real-time responses. They want personalized content that rewards them for loyalty. They also want a consistent experience across all platforms: 89 percent of customers get frustrated if they need to repeat across channels. And they’re not prepared to wait; they want information and responses ASAP. The key to managing customer experience, Williams said, is to remain relevant and offer the right content at the right time in the right place. Sitecore’s content management platform revolutionizes the relationship between brands and their customers by providing companies with internal analytics tools that lead to better insights so that personalized content is highly targeted.
The path to digital business transformation
So what challenges are businesses facing when it comes to driving digital transformation? The traditional CMO role is changing, the panel agreed. Nowadays CMOs must have the technological knowhow to understand customers better through utilization of technology. A data-driven mindset is crucial in the face of redefining consumer needs. Ensuring stakeholder alignment, focusing on small successes and creating an atmosphere that encourages experimentation are all vital, said Dave Mommen, head of Alliances and Channel at Rackspace. Creating an atmosphere that allows experimentation is a key concept in design thinking. Successful companies are not necessarily ones with a clear linear path; instead they zigzag and often need to take two steps back and one step forward. Giving employees the freedom and time to experiment is vital.
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