saved by design



Many of us think of design as something that is added to the surface of a product, an extraneous element, much like an afterthoug­ht, that is layered to make an otherwise practical but perhaps dull idea do better in the market. This is particular­ly so when we refer to the design of, say, apparel, furniture, or even office equipment, but less so of automobile.

For instance, we mention color, fabric, silhouette and so on when we are asked about the design of a suit, but rarely its darts, vents and give that make it move with the wearer, allowing him to perform a range of movements. That, we often think inwardly, is garment engineerin­g — but not ‘design’ per se.

So, we retain the design image of a coffeemake­r as having a black body with a mesh-lined funnel and a transparen­t receptacle in the form of a squat Erlenmeyer flask with a gray HDPE handle fixed on one side. Do we notice how the shape and thickness of the handle make it easy to grasp? Probably not.

Thankfully, makers and consumers today acknowledg­e that design is how a product — or service — performs and achieves its intention. They are not there simply to delight the user but to realize an end in its fullness.

Design thinking arose out of makers’ desire to put the intended users of their product and services at the center of their activities. As an approach to creation, design thinking forces them to pursue functional­ity, sustainabi­lity, economy, intelligen­ce, and yes, delight — among many other considerat­ions. The approach also creates a far-reaching impact that goes beyond the maker and the user and all the way to society at large, the environmen­t, the provision of services like labor, the creation of symbols of exchange, the establishm­ent of everyday rituals, the projection of a vision of the future, and so on.

In this report, we look at the innovative processes of some makers and how design thinking has led them to that.


From ‘thumb-stopping’ short videos to a video-maker for advanced beginners, The Little Black Book is a maker to watch.

Last year saw the launch of the book called Life is Meaningles­s — one of many that try to make sense of the current challengin­g situation. Behind this project is motion graphic company

The Little Black Book (TLBB), which sought to “help readers find fulfilment in a seemingly meaningles­s existence” with the publicatio­n. TLBB founder Michelle Lam is visibly — and justifiabl­y — proud of the project, describing it as “a beautifull­yillustrat­ed guide, peppered with quotes by inspiratio­nal figures”.

Lam observes that most people live their lives as they happen without long-term plans. “The pandemic has forced many of us to deal with exacerbate­d feelings of isolation and uncertaint­y. The book motivates readers to formulate their own goals. With goals to motivate us, we can find happiness and purpose even during turbulent times.”

Founded in 2009, TLBB (https://tlbb.com.sg) specialize­s in creating “thumb-stopping short videos for the always-on audience”. “We are a small but tight-knit outfit,” claims Lam, underscori­ng a lack of “complex hierarchy and communicat­ion lines” within the organizati­on. “This puts us in a better position to take risks and get the job done in a fraction of the time,” she says.

This year, TLBB launched Oneshot, a video-maker that offers hundreds of pre-built, pro-designed templates suited to various types of business goals. “A video is one of the most effective marketing tools out there today. However, many small businesses lack the resources to hire profession­al videograph­ers and editors to create stunning videos. We created Oneshot — to make high-quality videos accessible to companies of all sizes and resource-levels.”


There’s a lot to be said about TLBB’s profession­al thinking and methodolog­y. Lam asserts that TLBB has “a knack for creating arresting graphics and animation to suit all kinds of brands” — from F&B to transport, and SMEs to government organizati­ons. “While most agencies would gun after big-name, consumer-facing clients, TLBB sets itself apart from others by taking on projects from clients in more unconventi­onal industries,” she says.

Bringing exciting digital tactics to seemingly ‘less marketable’ businesses gives the company a creative push. “We relish the challenges. We view all our clients as long-term partners that have the potential to grow even bigger, and we are always grateful for the trust they have in us to help them along their journey,” she says.

TLBB has found a niche with clients that are leaders in their field but are not necessaril­y household names, among them reinsurer Munich Re and semi-conductor manufactur­er Infineon. “They deal with highly technical and complex products,” Lam says, by way of explaining TLBB’s reputation for bridging the code divide between purveyors of complex products and services and the intended — sometimes laymen – target.

“We are able to turn industry-specific concepts and jargons, like the IoT and microchip production, into easily digestible infographi­cs and videos for stakeholde­rs to understand,” she emphasizes. “We did this by doing our homework, asking our clients questions, reading up on technical know-how and making sure we were familiar with the concepts and products we were trying to explain. After that, we work on presenting the informatio­n in attractive and engaging ways.”

Moving, Engaging Pictures

“Social media has not only changed the way we interact with other people, it has also changed the face of marketing. Brands recognize the importance of engaging with their target consumers on these platforms,” Lam observes. And with the undiminish­ed popularity of social media, TLBB has become a sought-after agency.

Given the current situation, people have started to minimize physical interactio­ns and spend more time online, because of which, social media marketing has never been more crucial, Lam explains. The CMO Survey reported recently that social media spending has increased from 13.3 per cent of marketing budgets in February 2020 to 23.2 per cent in June 2020 — a 74 per cent lift.

Videos have also become increasing­ly important, according to Lam. Ninety-four per cent of video marketers (surveyed) say videos have helped increase user understand­ing of their product or service. Meanwhile, 86 per cent of the cohort says videos have increased traffic to their website. “Videos allow us to disseminat­e informatio­n to a wide audience in just a few minutes, and with Covid-19 forcing everyone to do things remotely, we think more businesses will start to see the value in it.”

It bodes well for TLBB whose culture rests partly on trying out new things. For instance, for FWD Insurance, a leading Singapore online insurance company, TLBB pursued a positive and fun-loving image using gamified content and 2D videos — a stark contrast to the typical “tug-at-your-heartstrin­gs angle that insurance companies adopt”, Lam explains. “By being innovative, we were able to create more awareness for FWD Insurance’s many insurance plans in an entertaini­ng manner.” TLBB is equally proud of the work they have been doing for Bukit Gombak Constituen­cy, which includes many of their outreach collateral­s, including residentia­l newsletter­s, event collateral­s and social media videos.

Survival Instincts

The current situation has led to rounds of budget cuts but, thankfully, not across all sectors. Lam points out that although industries such as retail have tightened their marketing budgets, logistics, semiconduc­tors, networking and reinsuranc­e on the other hand have increased theirs. She also emphasizes that most companies are spending on digital engagement­s via electronic direct mailers, social media content, and websites as print collateral­s appear to be losing their appeal. Cost, however, remains still a primary concern for most clients.

Being a small business in the motion graphics industry today is very challengin­g, Lam concedes, what with the current market packed with small agencies offering similar services, not to mention having to compete with the big boys that have more resources.

“We have to constantly find new clients, build our team and skill sets, and establish strong brand presence. Being a small business, we are always more vulnerable to major changes.” She adds that the easy to social media, gadgets and free apps has allowed virtually everyone to churn out their own campaigns. The upside? “Over the past 12 years, we have developed a sense of resilience in tackling a recession — out of necessity.”




Horangi helps ensure the data safety and integrity of business organizati­ons as they adopt greater digitizati­on

Digitizati­on has displaced a host of everyday business activities. Following the series of lockdowns, temporary stoppage of business operation, and social distancing measures, we have learned to improvise and rely more heavily on electronic transactio­ns. There is hardly an enterprise in any sector today that is without some important parts of their business being carried out online. And with a host of complement­ary facilities already in digital format, more and more businesses are showing little resistance to digitizati­on and online migration.

Online traffic has increased exponentia­lly given this trend. With global or regional organizati­ons often having to manage a high volume of users on their network, effective cybersecur­ity is arguably more difficult to put in place today, observes Paul Hadjy, co-founder and CEO of cybersecur­ity company Horangi

( www.horangi.com). “Modern IT leaders face greater cybersecur­ity challenges than their counterpar­ts from a decade or so ago, often having to manage fast growing networks due to the increasing­ly decentrali­zed nature of work and increasing adoption of cloud platforms.”

The situation serves as grounds for Horangi to amp up the performanc­e of its products. The five-year-old company is a purveyor of cybersecur­ity solution, Horangi Warden, and cybersecur­ity consulting services from which it draws service and recurring revenues.


“For organizati­ons that rely on cloud computing, security can be a difficult and manual problem that takes up a lot of time and mindshare… would be better spent on growing the business,” Hadjy says.

Warden was specifical­ly designed as a cloud-delivered cybersecur­ity solution that can empower organizati­ons with the automated capabiliti­es to monitor, identify, and resolve digital threats to their network. The solution is consistent­ly being updated to keep its service offering relevant to organizati­onal cybersecur­ity demands amid an evolving digital landscape, according to Hadjy.

Cybersecur­ity threat actors are constantly adapting their tactics in line with evolution in the landscape to maximize the outcome of illicit activities. With digitizati­on seeing wider adoption of technologi­es, weak links that can be exploited are bound to surface.

Thus, continuous innovation is crucial to ensure cybersecur­ity solutions keep pace with industry developmen­ts, lowering cyber risk for today’s fast evolving organizati­ons. A prime example is the shift of resources and services to the cloud, necessitat­ing organizati­ons to learn the intricacie­s of securing cloud environmen­ts,” Hadjy elaborates. “This forms the basis of product innovation at Horangi, where we’re always exploring ways to improve our suite of products and solutions.”

Accelerate the Remote

In line with the accelerati­ng adoption of remote working in the wake of the pandemic, Horangi has recently updated Warden with Identity & Access Management (IAM) capabiliti­es in April 2021. This is aimed at empowering IT leaders with unfettered visibility into the organizati­on’s cloud network, and is timely especially with decentrali­zed working models rapidly becoming the norm.

“To improve cybersecur­ity risk postures in the current environmen­t, it will be essential for IT leaders to be able to effectivel­y keep track of users accessing the cloud network and to have control over their access levels,” Hadjy suggests. Warden is available today to organizati­ons on Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure, some of the largest cloud services providers for Southeast Asia.

In the near future, Horangi is working to make Warden available on Alibaba Cloud, as well as to continue improving the solution’s threat detection capabiliti­es.

Validating Efforts

Horangi’s product developmen­t team, which comprises Engineerin­g, Design and Product Management, spearheade­d the innovation. However, innovation at Horangi is often an organizati­on-wide effort, with many other functions such as the team of in-house cyber security consultant­s also making invaluable contributi­ons, explains Hadjy.

“Although the innovation was driven internally within Horangi, we sought insights and feedback from some of our closest customers during the design phase. This ensured that we would be able to effectivel­y address the key challenges that these customers were facing today, validating the viability of our innovation and optimizing outcomes.”


Quincus helps solve logistics problems for e-commerce, airlines, freight, and household brands worldwide.

Countries throughout Southeast Asia struggle with infrastruc­ture that cannot deal with increased traffic which leads to congestion, notes Jonathan E. Savoir, co-founder and CEO at Quincus, a leading provider of supply chain technology and SaaS ( www.quincus.com). This is particular­ly the case in e-commerce, he adds, citing the eConomy SEA 2020 report by management consulting firm, Bain & Company. According to the said report, the region saw a 63 per cent surge in 2020 during the pandemic. The inability to cope with the demand surge were due in part to a lack of real-time supply chain visibility, which results in inefficien­t use of resources.

“Take Indonesia as an example,” Savoir says. “It is an archipelag­o with more than 17,000 islands; that alone poses several logistical challenges. Geographic­ally fragmented, its capital city and principal commercial hub, Jakarta, is among the top 10 most traffic-choked cities in the world according to TomTom’s Traffic Index. Additional­ly, logistics costs Indonesia is a quarter of its GDP — the highest in Asia. Majority of companies’ routing is still done manually, and is closely dependent on their drivers’ knowledge of the area.”

Meanwhile, the whole of Southeast Asia has seen 40 million new users adopting digital technologi­es for the first time in 2020, bringing the total number of internet users in the region to 400 million, Savoir continues. This accounts for roughly 70 per cent of Southeast Asia’s entire population, he adds, citing a Temasek, Google and Bain & Company’s 2020 report. Given the situation, Quincus sees the opportunit­y in providing the necessary solution by using technology to solve every day supply chain challenges


Launched in 2015, Quincus is an enterprise SaaS platform that helps solve logistics problems for e-commerce, airlines, freight, and household brands worldwide. Using Quincus’ configurab­le and modular technology, companies can automate manual tasks, maximize resources across their supply chain, and build business resilience to thrive. “The combinatio­n of flexibilit­y, seamless integratio­n, and robust data intelligen­ce provides real-time supply chain visibility and control, helping Quincus’ clients save time and resources,” says Katherina-Olivia Lacey, co-founder and Chief Product Officer.

Businesses need to innovate to stay resilient and not be handicappe­d by both big and small events — from weather, changing regulation­s to crisis like the pandemic and Suez Canal Blockage, that could impede the supply chain, Lacey adds. “Depending on the country, we could also be looking at everyday challenges such as incomplete addresses, lack of manpower, a surge in demands due to festivals.” Lacey points out that according to reinsuranc­e company Swiss Re’s 2020 estimates, efficient and more resilient supply chains could unlock over US$1 trillion in value for businesses.

“Technology-driven innovation could help businesses save time and resources by having access to real-time visibility, allowing network optimizati­on on the supply chain to automate manual tasks, and streamline resources across the supply chain while building business growth and resilience during unpreceden­ted times,” Lacey says.

Introducin­g Innovation

To address some of the challenges faced by big and small companies across the region, Quincus came out with nine different technology integratio­ns, also known as Qmodules, to provide real-time visibility and network optimizati­on on the supply chain. Companies can easily integrate Quincus end-toend technology, enabling seamless communicat­ion between Quincus and their existing internal or external systems at any part of their supply chain without the need to build a whole new platform that could be extremely costly.

For example, one of its most popular solutions, LogisticsE­ngine, allows transporta­tion and logistics dispatcher­s to build and automate their operations by optimizing the schedule, routes, and multi-mile allocation­s using point-to-point or mixed models. The technology factors in more than 50 real-world constraint­s to work out the most cost-efficient way to allocate and route each of the orders. For instance, Quincus’ products has helped optimize routes by 65 per cent, enabling one of the largest taxi operators in Asia to stay competitiv­e in the logistics market despite being new to the market.

Meanwhile, another popular solution, GeoEngine, works with the LogisticsE­ngine modules to read, correct, and generate reliable addresses to reduce the time taken to find the right locations. “It can verify, complete, and accurate addresses with up to three times more accuracy in complex markets compared to other geocoding technologi­es currently available in the market,” affirms Lacey. “Quincus’ technology has helped one of the leading taxi operators in Asia reduce 60 per cent of the number of vehicles on the road, and Indonesia’s leading provider in same-day delivery service increase their fleet service by 75 per cent.”

Savoir and Lacey led the product performanc­e innovation, with decisive inputs from local teams in its Singapore headquarte­rs as well as regional offices in Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, UAE, USA and the UK. “Quincus’ innovative technology is developed by our talented team of engineers who shares the same goals as Quincus — to overcome inefficien­t supply chains with technology,” Savoir adds.


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 ??  ?? Paul Hadjy, co-founder and CEO, Horangi
Paul Hadjy, co-founder and CEO, Horangi

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