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Sangam Team Speak: 1 - Suyog talks Product Design

(Suyog recently joined Sangam AIC as a Product Design Manager. We asked him to share a little bit about himself and why he's here)

My association with the CleanTech industry has been mostly through innovations in agriculture technology, through my stint at Crofarm, a farm produce supply chain company. I was involved in developing B2B products and services (connecting farmers to modern traders/retailers) where I worked on technology research and product development (for Android, iOS, Hybrid apps). The objective was to reduce inefficiencies and create a more transparent ecosystem. I learnt how technology can simplify the unorganized supply chain of fruits and vegetables (FnV) and how a zero/low wastage supply chain can benefit both the producer and the seller, and applied this knowledge to design similar structures for CroFarm.

As a product designer, I always keep my thoughts inclined with the business and, as part of it, with designing products, services and processes by following the Pareto principle (roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes). I identified that lacks of transparency and of communication in the supply chain lead to major losses of produce. After studying closely all the processes involved in the supply chain, and after months of research, ideation, conceptualizing scenarios, I was eventually able to design a system for the supply chain that had 100% transparency to every business stakeholder, which was my primary design objective. Creating transparency in the whole supply chain was always the prime focus but meeting that objective involved unravelling all its layers. Solving the pain-points that existed in this supply chain concluded with happy producers who had sustainable economic growth and happy retailers whose losses were minimized (by helping in daily demand prediction). The final outcome was the creation of a communication channel where stakeholders participate and learn design thinking and how it shapes the whole product perspective. We highlighted the importance of developing communication and participation platforms where activity isn’t just limited to a specific team; ideas come in from varied teams in the ecosystem. The leads to deliberating on problems and associated solutions needs, which technology can solve.

In the 2 years of my career in the AgTech space (with CroFarm), I was able to see the end to end product life cycle experience. Based on the solutions I built, I was able to see myself as a solution provider - a person who can design products, services, business processes, and enable design thinking in a startup ecosystem. Experience design and product development make me a curious explorer and a keen problem solver; and by being closely connected to businesses I keep learning and implementing design thinking, making my product recipe more detailed and usable.

However, I couldn’t define myself as just a UI/UX designer. My work responsibilities have grown from user research to usability study to delivering actual designs for development for multiple business applications. In such a role you are a problem seeker (i.e. identify pain-points) and match solutions to existing problems for any business vertical. I focus my efforts on identifying problems in all business verticals areas (by closely watching and working with all stakeholders) and generating proof of concepts through design enabled processes (by keeping the user/person who is facing a problem in performing the respective activity/task/process and simplifying his/her life by providing a technology solution that improves efficiency of human/process/businesses).

I believe that us product designers always have a think tank somewhere residing in us, and with our creative skill-sets we can find solutions to generate greater impact and add value to the world. The thought to abide by is that CleanTech provides a huge playground for product designers. With our creative, problem solving skill-sets we can play with design thinking as a tool to create products/services that can facilitate social impacts. A product designer can be imagined as an all-rounder player in a cricket team. Our creative thinking ability, with an empathetic inclination, can help direct businesses to be sustainable while focusing on product-market fit in this sector. It can also create customer delight without destroying resources available. The International Council of Societies for Industrial Design describes design as the "innovative humanization of technologies", suggesting that it plays an important role in making new technology understandable and usable. CleanTech itself has a reputation of being too "techie" and impenetrable, which led green guru John Elkington to write in his book, The Zeronauts: "One of the missing links in this area, is the connection to consumers”. As a product designer one can act as an innovator and at the same time help in empathizing with consumers. The 21st century world is looking forward to product designers and think-tanks to deliver products/services that can help our future generations achieve an economical, cleaner and sustainable environment with cleaner technologies.

Designing for greater social changes that can impact the future - this is a mainstream focus today, and as product designers we can help ideas take shape with empathy and in a more easily understandable manner. This is, after all, the need of the hour for CleanTech product and services today.

Suyog Patel

Product Design Manager

Sangam AIC

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