India is fast adopting UX as a practice – Interview with Sudhindra V – Part 1

07 Apr
Sudhindra V Interview with Sudhindra V – Design Director for Sapient Nitroin India, talks to Unicom Tech Editorial team about his journey, future plans and Opportunities in UX field. He tells to our team that “India is fast adopting UX as a practice. Customers are now seeking high quality services, they expect great products and they want to find delight in using them.”
  • How has been your journey as the Experience Design Director for Sapient Nitro in India?

The journey has been significant and memorable. It has been an important journey for the company. We have made strategic decisions and realigned our vision. And amid all this, it has been heartening to see Experience playing a huge part in all what we are thinking of doing. We are looking to create meaningful experiences that touch human lives – beyond content, commerce, creative and other expressions of it. Which means experiences that matter and that last long. We have pioneered the concept of Storyscaping and that has helped shape the right way of looking at things. And we have grown tremendously in the design team. Today we are a talented bunch of a lot of people each one trying to make a mark in this field. And I am happy to say that Sapient is a company lots of designers aspire for. And a lot of companies look upto Sapient on how we are doing things here. We have built our portfolio of some large clients in India and globally as well. All in all, I can say that it has been very satisfying and fulfilling

And its still a wonderful journey. After all, success is a journey, not the destination.

  • How will you define User Experience? How shall you rate adoption of UX in India?

User Experience goes by several definitions but the most appropriate one goes something likes this – “An experience is a story, emerging from the dialogue of a person with her or his world through action”. And another great one goes like this “…the perception left in someone’s mind following a series of interactions between people, devices, and events or any combination thereof.” One can explain User Experience in any no. of ways. At the heart of it all, it really means dealing with people in “their” environments (think holistically) and how they feel with respect to those interactions (emotions). And thats at the heart of all experiential offerings.

India is fast adopting UX as a practice. Customers are now seeking high quality services, they expect great products and they want to find delight in using them. Which means they are seeking high quality experiences in their everyday life. So businesses and brands are forced to walk the line of delivering great experiences no matter what industry one may be in. Having said that, I must say given the enormity of India, this is still miniscule. We still have a long way to go. We are well behind in terms of thinking design. Areas like healthcare and education can benefit a lot from design thinking.

The new age internet start ups are doing a great job here. And the economy playing its part is forcing businesses to think from a consumer point of view a whole lot more than ever before, which essentially means reorganizing and restructuring all touchpoints to deliver maximum value and benefit to the consumer. And young and aspirational multitudes of Indians demand the best of the breed in all that they interact today. So businesses and brands have a long way to go.

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  • What is the significance of UX for an Organization?

Today organizations have realized the significance and business sense in thinking about consumers. An S & P study indicates Customer Experience Leaders outperform the laggards by a whopping 77%. Which means a laggard would be on its way out if they dont pull up soon enough. Even companies who follow standard practices of customer experiences and not really ‘leaders’ outperform the market by 15%. Companies are realizing this today. And that’s good. But while the numbers make a lot of sense, the emotional connect it brings about is huge. Being true to the Emotions of the moment in the experience brings about the right results. And Emotions are the very foundation of “loyalty” (not loyalty programs but unwavering loyalty to a brand or a company). And the loyalty it creates transcends generations.

  • How do you see evolution of User Experience (UX) practice in last 10 years?

The last 10 years there has been a huge amount of learning in the market about creating experiences. Brands and companies are dedicating effort and resources in conducting research, in designing right and offering new types of technology interventions to make the experiences better. Digital has come to the forefront in the marketing offices of many a company. They have realized that there is a lot of value and profits to be made if the right experiences are created. Be it financial institutions, technology providers or a traditional agency, every company is investing in UX. We have seen this change particularly in the last couple of years. Just like everything else in India, the incremental maturity over long periods of time that other developed markets go through don’t apply as much in India. It takes a long time for the right solutions or approaches to make its presence in India but when the market realizes it, it laps it up. So you see a leapfrog in its adoption and maturity and the volumes push it lot further. Similarly in the UX, while the US and Europe have been steadily making progress, India is seeing the same lot more rapidly in the last couple of years. For e.g. SBI’s digital banking initiatives which would have been unthinkable 2 years ago is already true in metros in India.

  • What are the future possibilities for UX? Has it reached its maturity?

Far from it. The world over, we are gradually moving towards better experiences everywhere. The internet of things is playing a big role in it. We are talking about Smart homes, digital-physical experiences in consumer facing touch points and enhance our lifestyle in many ways. There are still a lot of things to do. Banks can become better, cars and their service stations can communicate a lot more, travels can become smoother. We are far from having reached anywhere near maturity. The best part about Experiences though is this. It can never be “done”. There is always more to do. We constantly innovate the world over, we get accustomed to new behaviours, our societies evolve. And so do our expectations of what we consider as a great experience.

Agile Olyimpiad 2015

  • You have spoken at UNICOM Seminar’s UXUI Design Summit, last year. This year we are running a 2 day event and focus is more on “How” rather than what and why of Design. What significant difference you see we are doing to make 2015 event more useful to our delegates?

World UXUI Design Summit 2015 and the larger picture of the community UNICOM is committed towards creating is a great initiative. There is a lot more awareness and interest in people today in the value they derive out of such conferences. The gatherings, whether they are formal or informal, is an opportunity to meaningfully connect with peers. Most often, the best knowledge comes from within such shared spaces. And ultimately people do come and evaluate what was their “take away” from conferences. Addressing the How question therefore is very important.

  • India doesn’t have many UX designers and UNICOM Endeavour’s to create more awareness and organize knowledge forums in this area. Do you see your company engaging closely with UNICOM seminars in this Endeavour?

Sapient has always been actively involved in design events the world over – be it the SXSW or the IxDA. Sapient will continue to engage in all forms of engagement with the right talent through such forums.

  • Please let the readers know who is your role model in UX Design?

As in every field, there are plenty. The most important designer people love to emulate is Jonathan Ive – Apple’s legendary design leader. He worked closely with Steve Jobs and was able to translate a lot of his vision to real artifacts. Another important design leader who has made significant contributions to the field is Dan Saffer. Academicians like Donald Norman and Marcus Hassenzal and usability experts like Jakob Nielsen have done a lot of work in clarifying and articulating the largely subjective world of design.

  • You are looked upon as significant contributor in UX design in India. Kindly share some of your significant contribution and future plans.

I have been involved in the UX design field in India for the past several years – 8 to be precise. There is always this fulfilment one gets when one gives back to the community. I learnt a lot from online discussions which helped me in my career. And I have been an active IxDA volunteer over the years to give something back to the community. I have contributed actively to 3 large scale World Usability Day events in Bangalore. We conducted events such as d-camps. I became a Regional Co-ordinator of IxDA for Asia in 2007 and helped form many chapters across Asia – such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Beijing, Mumbai, Hyderabad. Also engaging with students in a few events in NID was quite fulfilling. Aaron Marcus, a renowned expert in the field, came visiting to Bangalore and we organized him to speak at SapientNitro and also at a local IxDA event. Sapient has been extremely supportive in these activities and also have been able to sponsor a few of the events in Bangalore and elsewhere. I have also attempted to share my knowledge through some mainstream and online media and time to time write articles and pieces so I hope that has helped the community. Apart from that, I have conducted User Experience sessions in Srishti Design Labs, served as a mentor to a few design enthusiasts in Bangalore and am happy to share that many of them are now in mainstream design jobs.

Most importantly, when I speak to my colleagues in other geographies, I don’t believe I only represent my team in Sapient. I believe I represent a culture which is India and I have tried my best to bring that to bare in my interactions with other creative leaders in Sapient as well as other organizations. I have got a few of the design leaders from the US visit design colleges in Bangalore and see the potential that India has to offer to the creative world today. Overall, India continues in its upward path towards creative excellence and we need design leaders to help shape the community.

  • If you had not been in design world, which other area would have interested you?

I love to write so that’s another area may be I would have explored a bit. I did a bit of modelling in my younger days so that would be interesting too. And I have participated in plays in schools; my first play was when I was in my primary school. In any case, I think I would have landed in the creative field..



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