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Design Thinking

Listen: dY/dX partner Nevo Hadas on Radio Helderberg – Digital Solutions To The Plastic Packaging Crisis

By | Automation, Case Study, Customer Experience, Design Thinking, Digital Transformation, Human Centered Design, Product Development

Created in partnership with Smollan, dY/dX has recently built a smart dispenser which could change the future of retail – reducing plastic usage and improving our consumption habits. Nevo Hadas, partner at dY/dX, recently spoke on Radio Helderberg to explain more. Listen to the interview below.

 

Annelia Preis:
Today we are speaking to Nevo Hadas, he is a partner at the digital transformation company dY/dX. What does dY/dX stand for?

Nevo Hadas:
dY/dX is an abbreviation for ‘dY’ over ‘dX’ which is a mathematical formula for the rate of change. It comes from differentiation – the change in Y over the change in X – which is very critical to what we do. We help companies deal with the changing world and find their way through digital transformation; helping them to create new products for customers and change their working processes. For example, now during COVID, we’ve been doing a lot of work with companies to help them master remote working.

Annelia Preis:
We won’t ever get rid of plastic completely but we can reduce our use of single-use plastics – such as encouraging people to use cloth or paper bags [as opposed to plastic ones]. What is your suggestion around reducing single-use plastics? 

Nevo Hadas:
So we started a project with a company called Smollan where we looked at the informal market – such as spaza shops – and the amount of single-use plastics that are being used there. What we noticed was that, as affordability takes a hit – so, for example, people can’t afford to buy a 20 Rand bag of rice – brands are making packaging smaller and smaller. That leads to the production of more single-use plastics. We’re also seeing that the value for customers is decreasing because they are still paying for the cost of packaging while receiving a small quantity of product.

We asked ourselves, what if we could get rid of packaging completely and allow people to buy as much as they need without any restrictions in terms of packaging size? This is taking us back to the old market process, where you can go to a market and buy according to the weight or amount of the product that you want.

Obviously today there is a bigger requirement for data and people also want to know what product they’re buying – for example, what kind of rice they’re buying. We created smart dispensers which allow the distribution companies and retailers to ship 10kgs of rice to the spaza shop; the spaza shop then has 10kgs of rice in the dispenser, and if the customer wants to buy 2 Rands worth of rice, they can come with their own container or bag, select 2 Rand on the machine and the dispenser calculates how much rice that is. We find really good uptake in informal markets.

Most recently we did a project with Nude Foods in Cape Town which is a zero-waste store – which exists in the more formal and more upmarket environment where people really understand the concept of zero-waste. So, using technology,  if, for example, you wanted to buy 100 Rands worth of nuts, you can pour into your own bag and it will show you how many nuts you are getting. Then you can go and pay!

Annelia Preis:
This makes me think of buying petrol and how you can tell the attendant how much you want according to how much you have to spend.

Nevo Hadas:
Yes, it’s exactly the same model. So, with that as an example, you don’t have to buy multiple containers of petrol, there’s just a big pump house. It’s an interesting model for retailers, the brands and the consumers because consumers can save money doing this. It increases affordability so it increases food security. They also know that they’re getting the quality of food that they paid for. Retailers often measure their store’s profitability on a per square meter basis and because you won’t really be using shelves, you’ll be using dispensers which are longer and narrower – so you’re getting more vertical value out of it – they can actually increase their yield and make more money out of less shelf and storage space. From a Brand point of view, they will be receiving all the live data; so every time someone buys something, they will know exactly what it is that the person purchased and they will be able to see the transaction volume. So the brands actually get a much better idea of how their product is doing.

Annelia Preis:
With COVID-19 now, everybody is afraid to touch things. Would this reduce that problem?

Nevo Hadas:
We have been playing with a zero-touch model where you can just put your hand in front of the machine and it will dispense. You won’t have to touch the device at all, so that is also a possibility.

Annelia Preis:
I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures in the media of what happens in our oceans and how the dolphins and whales are swallowing plastic. Hopefully, we can get rid of that!

Nevo Hadas:
Even though recycling does a lot, if you look at the challenges we face, particularly in South Africa with service delivery, recycling doesn’t help if no one is picking up and taking that plastic away. We have to think of creative ways to eliminate plastic from the system because we are just creating more plastic as we go. Recycling is not going to fix that problem. The only way to keep our oceans clean is to eliminate plastic packaging completely rather than trying to make it more refinable.

Annelia Preis:
There’s a lot of plastic going into our landfills. How long does it take to decompose?

Nevo Hadas:
If you look at most of the studies, it can take hundreds of years to decompose. It’s not a viable solution. Which is why a lot of people are looking at compostable plastics, but even that takes about fifty years or so to break down, so it’s not a quick process. Those plastics also become very expensive to produce, which means it still has a big [carbon] footprint. We’ve built so much of our retail models and thinking around packaging; it’s how the things are shipped and sold – the entire system is based around packaging. If you can ask yourself why packaging exists like this and get your head out of that mode, then you can start seeing that there’s a world where you can eliminate this plastic problem completely.

I’m a big believer that this is going to be a key part of the future of retail – that we will move to a world where we are only consuming what we need and we are consuming in smaller quantities. There are benefits for the entire value chain in moving towards a package-free solution.

Listen: Nevo Hadas on Channel Africa – Digital Transformation In Retail

By | 4IR, Automation, Case Study, Customer Experience, Design Thinking, Digital Transformation, Human Centered Design, Product Development

Half of the global plastic waste is from packaging. Since only 9% of plastic is recycled, our landfills are overflowing and our ecosystems are being damaged. Retailers can no longer ignore the demands of a quickly growing market of environmentally-conscious consumers. To tackle this problem, dY/dX partnered with Smollan and Nude Foods to test a new smart dispenser which could change the future of retail by removing the need for plastic packaging altogether. Nevo Hadas, a dY/dX partner, spoke on Africa Midday on Channel Africa to explain how the concept was born and why it is important.

Transcript

Lebogang Mabange:
For the entire month of July, people all over the world took part in ‘Plastic Free July’ – a global challenge to reduce personal consumption of single-use plastic. In line with the growing demand for more environmentally-conscious retail, dY/dX, a digital transformation practice in South Africa, partnered with Nude Food, South Africa’s zero-waste retailer, to create a solution which would address the issue of single-use plastic packaging in the form of digitally-operated smart dispensers. Nevo Hadas, partner at dY/dX, now joins us to further discuss this. Let’s start with what single-use plastic is and how it impacts the environment.

Nevo Hadas:
Single-use plastic is used in packaging for foodstuffs or cleaning materials. It’s generally plastic that cannot be recycled and is not easily disposed of. There has been a massive increase in single-use plastics over the last few years mainly because as consumer affordability decreases, manufacturers have been trying to get their products into smaller packaging sizes to make it more affordable. This means that there is more packaging being produced than ever before. The challenge is that a lot of this non-recyclable plastic ends up in landfills, oceans, rivers and all our ecosystems.

Lebogang Mabange:
How did dY/dX go about finding a solution to this plastic waste problem?

Nevo Hadas:
So the project we did started out by looking at the informal sector. With our client, Smollan, we looked at how we could change the behaviours and social impacts in informal retail – from spaza shops to people who sell items on the side of the road. One of the things we realized was that the solution to reducing plastic packaging wasn’t to make it more recyclable but to actually eradicate it.

Following a design-thinking process, we tried to understand what it was that consumers are looking for in those markets. From the research and the interviews we did, we could see that affordability was a key component from those customers. So we asked, what if we could create a smart dispenser that dealt with a lot of the challenges that people in that value system face?

If we look at it from a brand perspective, what they’re really worried about is that their product is presented well – that’s why they like the packaging. It helps them to identify themselves, for example, Tastic Rice. It also helps them understand how much volume they’re selling into the market. From a consumer’s perspective, when they buy a bag of Tastic Rice, it helps because they know what they’re getting. From a retailer’s perspective, they want to have products that are affordable enough for their clients so they’re looking for a range of sizes and prices of Tastic Rice.

By moving towards a smart dispenser, we get rid of that plastic packaging completely. The consumer can come with their own container or paper bag and they can choose how much they want to buy. So, for example, if they want to buy 5 Rand’s worth of rice. The machine automatically calculates how much rice that is and keeps the rice fresh in an air-tight environment. So to reduce the impact of plastic, we eradicated the use of plastic as much as possible. In doing that, we are able to rethink pricing and affordability for a lot of products in that market.

Lebogang Mabange:
People are becoming more aware of the environment and the need to find sustainable solutions. Is environmentally-conscious retail something that we are going to see more of?

Nevo Hadas:
I think it’s a definite trend. We’ve done a few of these prototypes in different kinds of environments. What was interesting for us when we were doing the research is the different needs and levels of awareness. In the spaza shop or informal environment – it’s driven more by price than packaging. There’s a stronger need for low-cost items. There is a growing awareness of the importance of recycling because people can see the trash around them and service delivery doesn’t always deal with waste effectively.

If you’re moving into the upper end of the market, into the formal market, there is an emergence of package-free retailers which have no packaging at all. They use dispensers. The latest prototype we built was actually based in one of those shops. If you look at how much growth there is in that sector, not just in South Africa but globally, you can see that it is a massive trend and all retailers are looking at it. I think it makes financial sense for manufacturers and retailers to cut out all this plastic which no one really wants. From a consumer point of view, I think it simplifies their lives and helps them to know that they are not damaging the earth with their consumption.

Lebogang Mabange:
The smart dispenser looks after the environment on a macro-level. How can we start implementing it in our daily lives so that each one of us can help make a difference to the environment beyond ‘Plastic Free July’? 

Nevo Hadas:
It’s the way that we choose to purchase and consume. It’s a tricky thing, depending on where you are in the market because there aren’t necessarily options for everyone. For example, in Cape Town, there are shops like Nude Foods, which we partnered with to test the latest prototype, who are purely focused on this type of thing. You can go there with your own containers and fill them up and that’s one way to reduce your impact. Another way is to buy in bulk because then you’re purchasing fewer packets. A third option, which I think is really relevant, is eco-bricks. You take an old plastic bottle, like a milk bottle, and instead of throwing your plastic packaging away, you put them into that bottle. You cram the bottle full of plastic packaging and then the bricks are used for building or ecologically-friendly construction. It also reduces the space required in landfills which is also really critical.

Digital Transformation in Retail – Zero Packaging Solutions

By | Design Thinking, Human Centered Design, Product Development | No Comments

Packaging has defined how modern and informal retail works. The entire system is centred around packaging, from displays, pricing, shelving, distribution, returns and more. Consumer purchasing behaviour, the way we promote goods (2 for 1), how check-out works, all link back to packaged goods as the “atoms” of modern retail. So with plastic waste and single-use packaging being responsible for 40% of all plastic production, it’s a systemic challenge to make significant change. Consumers are demanding smarter solutions and less packaging, but retailers and brands are struggling to find the way forward because it is a complex system, not just a single point solution.

First developed for the informal market, where smart dispensing can increase affordability and food safety, we were excited about the ideas potential scalability at formal retail too (read more about our experience in the informal market here).

The smart dispenser concept provides an insight into the future of retail. They benefit retailers, consumers, FMCG product manufacturers and the environment. Consumers are enabled to purchase the quantity they need and take their purchases away in their own container, use a disposable paper bag or purchase a container.

Through IoT-based technology, the smart dispenser shows their purchase cost as they dispense on a screen. The same sensors provide real-time stock levels to both the store and the manufacturer, simplifying restocking and distribution. 

If you can imagine how the customer shopping experience, payment experience and retail back-end systems change when you have a store with 300 or more smart dispensers for all dry goods (powders, grains, single purchase items) and liquids, it is a profoundly disruptive idea – like ordering a car on your smartphone was 10 years ago.

The smart dispensers allow retailers to offer their customers a packaging-free purchasing experience at scale, while at the same time increasing the effectiveness of their floor space through vertical stacking and real-time stock levels per dispenser. FMCG manufacturers can reduce their packaging costs by being able to ship in bulk to retailers and use the data generated by the smart dispenser to manage re-ordering and distribution more effectively.

Nevo Hadas

Lockdown Lessons: How DYDX is Navigating Covid19’s Lockdown Restrictions

By | #COVID19, Design Thinking, Remote Working | No Comments

by Nevo Hadas, partner at DYDX

We have been working remotely with international clients for the last 5 years. Lockdown for me (personally) has meant less travel, more time to exercise (zoom HIIT classes) and hang out with my kids. Unlike many other businesses that have suddenly had their world transformed and are struggling to adapt to a “no office” environment, our business hasn’t really been impacted too much.

The biggest business issue has been one delayed project, but we have grown during this period with new projects kicking off. The team at the moment is around 32 people, spread out between Cape Town, Johannesburg, UK and Netherlands. We have added 3 new “interns” (one is a reforming lawyer, one is a re-emerging educationalist, and one is a surf instructor/musician/organization psychology major) during this period.

Our systems are built for a digital-first organisation. We have very little email (which is a sign of digital maturity) and most of our communication is focused on projects in slack channels. There are almost no “meetings”. We don’t use video calls. Our work is done in collaborative workshops, and they are either really short (dealing with blockers in projects i.e. less than 30 min) or long workshops – where we collaborate as a team and complete key tasks. We have specific formulas for meetings and tools that we use which make our organization very efficient and ensure that nobody is dead-weight in the meeting.

This doesn’t mean that the period has not had its challenges and hasn’t created new opportunities. For example: In our design thinking and service design projects we normally facilitate physical workshops; day-long events requiring teams to work together in one room. That clearly could not happen.

As part of a 10-week certification course we co-developed with Red & Yellow, we had to deliver a full-day workshop for a group of 22 from Dimension Data. There were four teams, each working on different projects – challenging enough in a face-to-face workshop and even harder virtually.

We had to rethink and redesign the workshop process, delivering two fast-paced, highly collaborative workshops. Each was three hours long but because of the time pressure and interactivity, they felt energetic and engaging.

Similarly for Mediamark, in a Future Ways of Working workshop, usually delivered as a half-day physical event for leadership teams, we had to move it all online. We reimagined processes using Zoom, Miro boards and Google Docs, changed the agenda and had a successful outcome.

What has been interesting as a commonality for us, is even though organisations have all the tools (office365/ Gsuiite/ slack/ teams/ zoom, etc.), they haven’t explored how to use them. The organisations are hampered by a belief system anchored in the technology of eight years ago that influences how they see teams working together.

Four years ago we worked on a project with the Dutch government to develop and promote distributed remote teams. I expected a new-fangled intranet incorporating Slack and Asana, what we got was something very different. The realisation was that technology does not create successful teams, behaviour does.

This project, The Culture Canvas, was released as an ebook, downloaded thousands of times and led to us building our Culture and Future of Work Practice. In this lockdown, we decided to release another free eBook “me.we.us” to help team managers improve how they manage remote teams. We have seen it spread quite quickly already with some organisations downloading the ebook hundreds of times. We have also developed a 10-minute “Remote Team Maturity” assessment designed to quickly measure remote working capabilities and quantify team effectiveness.

This has led us to develop a new training program that we expect to release at the end of May (it’s currently in beta with test organisations in SA and UK). So that is an opportunity that emerged from the lockdown.

My message to the industry and agencies is that this is a golden opportunity. You are thrust into change but it is beneficial pain. We have undertaken successful digital transformation projects with corporate marketing teams (such as Vodacom) and have spent a considerable amount of time in change management processes.

Agencies are sometimes arrogant and assume they know everything from a blog they read. The default approach is to get a new tool, come up with a new process and all will be well. This is not how it works! Don’t be fooled into thinking that this is easy. It just doesn’t work that way. Many are “too busy” to invest the time in transforming. Many great companies were too busy… until they weren’t busy at all.

 

Video: DYDX Partner Nevo Hadas on – Design Thinking for Business

By | Courses, Design Thinking, Education | No Comments

What is Design Thinking?

DYDX partner Nevo Hadas breaks down what Design Thinking is and isn’t, how it works and how it could help organisations solve complex problems.

This talk was hosted at Red & Yellow’s Breakfast Session initiative, and designed to help educate businesses on design thinking approaches and help them figure out ways they can innovate and grow.

Nevo discusses what creativity actually is, the processes surrounding success (and failure), and shares a number of lessons around Design Thinking.

 

Nevo Hadas led the development of “The Culture Canvas”, an open-source framework that makes work culture actionable for businesses to shape their team’s behaviours. The latest ebook on managing remote teams, “me.we.us” is available as a free download and a 10-minute “Remote Team Maturity” assessment, designed to help companies measure the effectiveness of their remote teams.

DYDX speaks to SABC News about Smollan’s innovative new retail solution

By | Case Study, Design Thinking, Human Centered Design, In the news, Product Development, Research, Service Design | No Comments

DYDX collaborated with retail solution company Smollan Group to create an innovative solution for the informal market.

The Gcwalisa dispenser provides a cost-effective solution for buying products, potentially changing how FMCG products are sold and helping to reduce the previous impact of the plastic packaging on the environment.

DYDX’s Templar Wales speaks to SA Today on SABC News about the dispenser, the process behind creating the solution, and how this has impacted on the community and the environment.