Design thinking

Ecosystem thinking has become an integral in product design today. We don’t just work along the linear train of thought to make a product marketable to a consumer; it involves considering the various entities that affect the consumer’s decision, and how the product fits into the whole web/ecosystem revolving around a consumer. For instance, how it leverages of other factors in the ecosystem of services/products to gain its way into a consumer’s home. Traditional business models in most organisations still remain horizontal in nature. While the horizontal model still works to reach a consumer, it’s probably good to rethink this in light of today’s economic landscape and the fact that no product exists in silo, but it’s marketability is determined by a host of other factors.

In the drive to make accurate decisions on product design quickly, useful data patterns are holy grail, in a world flooded with information. We’ve heard of instances of wiretapping by governments to obtain civilian data, but for businesses, getting accurate data through receptors in the community is especially important. There must be meaning in data, if not it’s just contributing to noise and complication. In the quest to design objects that meet consumer needs, we need to look into the crystal ball of data algorithms for answers. A mishmash of the Engineering and Design fields results. Speaking of which, the Singapore University of Design and Technology seems to be a really exciting place to learn how to solve real-world problems with engineering technology, translating into practical designs. Universities that overemphasize on academics are becoming passe. Also, businesses these days cannot be compartmentalized into a fixed discipline/line. For instance, Apple is a music/ hardware/technology company? Confining disciplines to strictly ‘Computer Engineering’ or ‘ Art and Design’, may not be relevant  in the changing business context. However that being said, companies still value candidates with solid skills in their major discipline.

Also, we see the advent of Singapore start-ups trying to emulate Silicon Valley, having creative working spaces, a warrior mentality to boot- horsepower to last 16 hours straight on coding. Some people wonder if Asians are just experts at copying their American counterparts. Taking a step back, considering our cultural differences, would it be better to allow our start-up culture to develop organically in the local context, rather than conforming to the American model which may not necessarily suit an Asian country whose education system had been so deeply rooted in rote learning? But in reality, Singapore wants finished products quick without hassle. To bypass the usual time required for an organic start-up culture to develop, copying may be the way to go for now, rather that researching on a business model that is original and innately beneficial in the local context.

Many people have lamented that AI may one day usurp jobs, leaving behind a catastrophe of mass unemployment. However, at the present moment, AI capabilities are limited to monitoring trends on the ground and keeping humans informed; sure, they could do jobs that involve a combination of fixed patterns, i.e. drafting contract laws. Decision-making or forming improbable connections, at the moment, seems confined to the realm of human thinking faculties.

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