“There’s massive opportunity in India right now.”
A chat with ExperiencePoint partner Shyam Viswanathan.
Shyam Viswanathan, a leadership professor and consultant based in Coimbatore, India, has been a busy ExperiencePoint partner for nearly a decade. The first Associate Dean of Executive Education at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, he has facilitated ExperienceChange and ExperienceInnovation workshops for thousands of participants across India and beyond. Shyam has almost four decades of experience in configuring and delivering solutions to large corporations in India, Western Europe, Asia Pacific and the United States
ExperiencePoint had a chance to catch up with Shyam via Zoom last week to discuss innovation and India.
Tell me a little bit about the business market in India in 2021. What kind of growth and development are you excited about?
India is a country of 1.4 billion people—that’s a quarter of the world’s population, so the sheer numbers are exciting. In the tech industry, our hardware isn’t the most evolved, but our software is world-class, particularly in the mobile and internet sectors. And a massive number of tech-savvy millennials are entering the workforce, each year. The market is huge and growth is happening everywhere, especially in industries with lots of recruitment, such as insurance, technology, off-shored services and software.
Right now, which industries in India do you think will benefit the most from innovation training?
There is massive opportunity in India now. In a post-Covid world, India can step up and replace supply chains from China in several industries: cars, mobile phones and pharmaceuticals. So I’d say it’s these industries that stand to benefit the most from innovation training—the ones that are under maximum pressure to measure up in terms of innovation in a changing India.
Tell me about the work you’ve done with human-centered design (HCD) training in India. What specific business results have you seen?
I’ve worked with many large companies in India, across various industries, including finance, retail, housing and health insurance. The growth I’ve seen has been remarkable.
Some standout stories include a leading e-commerce company that started selling books out of an apartment in 2007. Top managers, including the founders, went through the ExperienceChange simulation. Departments such as engineering, warehouse management, logistics and last-mile deliveries shared with me how their learning made a difference as the company grew to a valuation of approximately 20 billion USD in just over a decade.
I also worked with an asset management company who wanted to use HCD training to improve their customer onboarding process, particularly in rural areas. The goal was to make the onboarding process simple and delightful. The training had a huge impact—they successfully onboarded over 150 thousand customers, reduced in-person interface through the introduction of a video-assisted process and increased customer portfolio by a significant percentage.
Another great impact story was the work I did with a housing finance company. The company realized that when a customer wanted to foreclose their mortgage, their customer experience deteriorated as they became of less interest to the company. Using their learning from ExperienceInnovation, they solved for the question: How might we improve customer experience after foreclosure? The results were excellent —the time it took to foreclose a mortgage was reduced by nearly half and they created ambassadors for their brand.
There are many other stories that come to mind. How might we make an insurance renewal process simpler? That was a question we solved with HCD training for a health insurance company. We made the process more than twice as effective. For a financial services company, we helped customers enrich their profile, making dramatic cuts to the turnaround time to effect new changes.
Why do you think ExperiencePoint Innovation workshops are so effective at teaching innovation?
The workshops draw upon the credible research and work of IDEO, for conceptual inspiration. They highlight both the 'mindset' as well as the 'process' of HCD in innovation. They can be delivered to learners from top, middle and junior management levels—and learners can relate the content to their roles. The workshops are generic enough to cater to a variety of industries and services, and yet specific enough to impart the precise skills needed for implementation of learning. And they are backed by reliable and robust simulation and technology.
This interview has been edited and condensed.