Publication Name: Business Standard
Date: June 2014
Having established itself as a global leader in the IT services space, India is now fast rising up the value chain and expanding its footprint in the technology landscape. Among other things, India is increasingly becoming a strong player in the product design space. With the domestic design capabilities growing, Nick Talbot, global design head at Tata Elxsi, one of the top Indian design firms by size and revenue, moved to India three years ago. Talbot spoke to Itika Sharma Punit about the evolution in the design ecosystem in India over the years he has been here and how 'Leisurenomics' is becoming a global phenomenon.
How do you think has the product design landscape in India changed over the years?
I moved to Indian three years ago and within this short period, I have seen the Indian design landscape changing. There has been an explosion in the pace at which the industry has grown, including product design companies, or companies that work around user experience or service design. India has huge talent and the confidence of the students that come out from colleges every year grows very rapidly. But when we look at it from an international perspective, I think there is still a long way to go. Also, as a market, it is very difficulty to sell to India as of now, but that is also changing gradually.
You mentioned that it is a hard market, could you elaborate on the same?
India is a very important market for us and we do some great work with some very forward-looking brands here. But the market had been quite closed and protected for long, and so several companies believed that if they are making profits doing what they have been doing, why should they bother with designing or research and development (R&D)? In other markets, there was always a global pressure of imported products beating the local ones, so those companies needed to invest in giving a better preposition to consumers to remain in the market.
Which are the industries that are actively looking at design?
The number one industry is the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry. Also, automotive is a very important industry for us as we do a significant amount of work in design development and engineering for automotive companies. We are also beginning to work in the services design space, which is a relatively new discipline in India. There are several companies selling services like hospitality, public transportation systems, banking, and insurance and all of their services can be improved and made more efficient and customer friendly.
You have been working on what you call 'Leisurenomics' for some time now, could you elaborate on that?
The boundaries between work hours and personal time are increasingly getting blurred with the advent of the smartphones, internet and being connected always. This is redefining how people experience leisure, and changing its very meaning. Therefore, innovation is in the midst of a significant shift in trajectory and intent. No longer is innovation solely focused on improving organisational productivity, the new target is the individual and their need to maximise the most precious commodity - time. Leisurenomics is the potential effect of this pattern of behaviour on innovation and design and ultimately the economy.
What kind of business opportunities are you exploring within Leisurenomics?
There are projects we are undertaking where we are looking at how service providers of media and content or maybe of gaming, which traditionally were never in the automotive space, can get into the automotive space in a much more organised way. For example, a lot of people have got pay-per-view (television) in their homes, what happens if we cross a pay-per-view with an automobile, we can get something completely new with leisure.