The element of design is likely to be the key factor in defining the success of products or services in an emerging digital world
Self-driving cars, interactive carpets, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Bahubali, Kochi Metro, an ergonomically designed medicine box: What do all of these have in common? The answer is technology—a technology which is embedded into each of these products to deliver a design defined service which is easy to use and pleasing to the eye. In a world where technology, especially digital technology, is permeating every aspect of human life, it becomes even more important that users do not have computerisation staring into their faces but rather inhabit an environment where computing power remains in the background while the experience of a product or service comes to the fore. Tata Elxsi, a design and technology services company, has constantly strived to take this whole user experience to the next level with IT in the background and design in the forefront.
“Our vision is to be a design led company. We believe a brand’s success will be defined by the experience offered by the product or service. Though technology will power a product or service, what the customer experiences will be only the design aspect,” said Nitin Pai, senior vice president, marketing, Tata Elxsi. The realm of design is also now a key thrust area for the pure play IT services companies who are building these capabilities organically and also through inorganic options. This has been accentuated with an ever-increasing number of solutions from the technology sector being aligned to a digital lifestyle. For instance, Wipro recently announced the buyout of US-based design and business strategy consultancy firm Cooper for $8.5 million. Earlier, it had acquired another Denmark based design firm Designit. Wipro believes that that the latest acquisition will further strengthen its design and innovation capabilities expanding its reach in North America and adding capabilities in professional design education.
“Our combined capability across design, strategy and technology gives us a unique platform for working side-by-side with clients on the entirety of their digital initiatives,” said Rajan Kohli, global head and senior vice president, Wipro Digital.
Similarly, Cognizant has also made a couple of acquisitions in the design space with firms such as Brilliant Service, Idea Couture now under its umbrella. Both these companies fall in the realm of digital strategy, product design and technology services. Japan-based Brilliant Service is a products and solutions company that specialises in digital strategy, product design and engineering, Internet of Things, and enterprise mobility. Toronto-based Idea Couture, a digital strategy and design firm, has social scientists, strategists, anthropologists, user experience experts, designers and connected product developers who help envision and design prototype digital solutions to help clients create connected products.
Design as a strategy element is not restricted to just products which are visible to the naked eye but also in the services segment where complex activities are made more simple to use. A case in point is Tata Elxsi’s advancement in the area of self-driving or autonomous cars. Tata Elxsi has already built the software block which can make self-driving cars a reality in the near future. This software block developed by the company has the ability to process data from two key elements of an autonomous vehicle—sensors and maps and process them into actionable measures. The software block for autonomous cars developed by Tata Elxsi has the deep learning capability which can process heterogenous types of data from the sensors and align it with the high definition maps to define the driving directions. These cars are already being tested on a pilot basis in Germany and the US. “We have tied up with one of the top five global original equipment manufacturers for our software,” Pai said.
However, the technology powered design output at Tata Elxsi also extends to numerous products cutting across industries and sectors. It has developed a voice controlled sensor technology that sits on a car dashboard or even a simple product like a home carpet, where a tablet or smartphone can make this rug an interactive experience, especially for children. “Products in every industry are becoming ‘smart’ with sensors, analytics, and new content. Intelligent products and solutions are key to building real-time businesses that can quickly respond to evolving customer and technology demands,” said Jayajyoti Sengupta, Asia Pacific head at Cognizant.