#CONVERGEBA Speaker Interview: Cindy Soo

February 22, 2018

In the context of our event #CONVERGEBA to be held on March 22nd in the CCK Center in Buenos Aires, we want to introduce some of its international speakers.
This time we interviewed Cindy Soo, an Innovation Leader working with boutique brands and Fortune 500 companies all over the world. As a visionary, she defines new segments and sectors, identifies disruptive opportunities, drives enabling technology roadmaps, and develops new business models in the ever changing Connected Living space.
Her passion for people-centric design thinking brings about sound strategies that enable for meaningful strategies from Year 1 to “Forward Future”. Known for her “Fusionist” way of thinking, Cindy bridges the gap between Design, Engineering, Research, Science & Technology, “the “User” and “Consumer”, and the Brands we enjoy everyday. She’s worked with brands such as Hermès, Manufacture NY, Philips Electronics, Ford Motor Company, Google, Pandora, IKEA of Sweden, Sony Japan, Under Armour, Nike, Morgan Stanley, Proctor & Gamble, Flextronics
Globant: What are you working on at the moment?
Cindy: Unfortunately due to NDAs and highly confidentiality agreements, I cannot share specific projects I am working on or with whom I am working with, however the work is very exploratory and looks at the future in the next 10-20 years from now. And yes, that is possible!
G: What role does new emerging technologies play in new products and services?
C: It all depends on which technologies you are referring to, however I think it is important to come together to share our knowledge and expertise to ensure that any technology, whether emerging or existing, enables a better way of living, serves humanity as a whole, and contributes to a sustainable future. We also have to remember that it’s not so important what technologies are emerging and attempt to design around that. The important thing is to design around the people who will be consuming, using, and living in the environments (not solely products and services) we are designing for.
We are seeing some technologies maturing to the level where we can see a definite impact on society where the impact is meaningful and enabling and we are realising this coming out from an innovation process that looks at the pain-points and motivations, the political, cultural, and societal changes, and then come to an understanding of their unknown and unmet needs, to come up with a number of ideas that can be realized in the Here and Now through to the Forward Future. For us, it is all about designing around the people and not the technology.
G: What role do you see A.I. playing in the next few years in product development?
C: I think it is very evident what roles AI will play in the near future. There are numerous conferences, articles, and videos online that show the potential of AI. Beyond our personal and everyday needs, AI is adopted as a design element in creating solutions in Healthcare, Finance, Agriculture, Education, and Transportation. But perhaps the more important question here is how are we ensuring we are designing and incorporating this design element responsibly? Besides its direct impact on our daily lives, how will it impact our environment? How will we ensure we are indeed placing sustainability and circularity at the forefront of our design process? How are we protecting our safety, and our privacy? How do we determine what is ethical and what is not? What is our own human moral directive and how long can we hang onto this before we are confident enough to let AI determine this for us?
AI systems are taking over repetitive tasks and even high-value tasks, but what’s important to remember is although AI can execute analysis and solve problems at light speed, it doesn’t mean we can be lazy and let it do the work. There is an even more need for us across all disciplines, to develop our creativity, empathy, and critical thinking abilities. Being constantly curious and allowing that to drive our imaginations and our passion is all a part of what makes us human. Ethnographic research that allows us to empathise with how people think, feel and reason will play an integral part in developing meaningful and sustainable experiences every day, in the Here and Now and in the Forward Future.
G: Why do you think it’s important to focus on humans first while creating a product?
C: I think we need to be careful when we say that it’s important to focus on humans first. I believe it’s best to center your design thinking not around the person as he or she exists in the present but to look at his or her aspirations, motivations, pain-points, and interactions with others and with their environment, and we can’t stop there. We need to look at the triggers around him or her, such as societal shifts, how people are reacting to the political arena, and how their lives are shifting as a whole. These bigger movements help us design for more engaging and meaningful experiences that will adapt to them and their changing motivations as they progress in life. As we develop our design process to design around the morphing entity, AI can play a much needed role to enrich our solutions. This is a much larger task for those who are strategists and true experience designers and I can see this flexibility in thinking as an invaluable skill to have for any company who want to be relevant to their existing and future consumers.
G: What inspires you today when you need to create a new product?
C: My inspiration comes from a variety of sources. When designing for the Here and Now, it comes from the trials and tribulations we experience every minute that can branch off into a web of possible innovations. But when looking into the Forward Future, global concerns such as clean air, availability of potable water, and the damaged ecosystem in the seas and oceans inspires me to harness ideas and create solutions that not only enhance the lives for you and me, but also make a tangible impact on the future of our planet.

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