“Designing a Better Tech Future”
1. A very good afternoon to everyone. It is my pleasure to be here today for the second edition of the Shopee Product and Design Challenge 2022.
2. Let me begin by warmly congratulating all participants in reaching the final round of the Challenge. I am heartened to witness strong participation and collaboration across diverse groups, from undergraduates to postgraduates and working professionals.
3. This competition is an excellent platform for participants to gain insight into the e-commerce industry, develop valuable skills, and push the boundaries of creativity.
4. Why is it important? Singapore is one of the most digitally competitive countries in the world, and we aim to be a leading digital economy. In my MTI capacity, I want to assure you that the Government is committed to growing our pool of tech talent and deepening their skills so that companies have the human capital to innovate, turn ideas into great products and delight their customers. For example, there are many courses at the University, Polytechnic and Institute of Technical Education (ITE) levels that prepare students to enter UI/UX fields, such as the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD)’s Bachelor of Arts in User Experience and Game Design, the Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP)’s Diploma in Infocomm and Media Engineering, and ITE’s Higher National ITE Certificate (Nitec) in Interactive Design. Digital talent, like all of you present today, will underpin the Government’s effort to develop our digital economy.
5. Roles such as product management and UI/UX design are critical building blocks of Singapore’s digital economy. These are not necessarily tech-heavy roles, but you complement the engineers and coders to see the product through to fruition, and to create a polished finished product for consumers.
6. Let me share my reflections on three areas of focus for talent in the product design and management space: know your audience, know your stakeholders, and know your abilities.
Know your audience
7. First, it is important to know your audience. In a crowded marketplace of digital services, the ability to understand your customers’ needs and preferences will help you to create products with a unique value proposition.
a. Consumers increasingly expect more from e-commerce services, such as for personalised experiences, easy-to-use interfaces, and prompt customer support services. This is where your rigorous market research, appreciation of the customer journey and continuous refinement of your product will enable you to not just meet their needs, but exceed them.
b. To effectively translate customer demands into a product, you would also need to understand the types of strategies and frameworks that are required to bring your ideas to life. Product managers and designers must thus be skilled in a myriad of tools that range from experimentation with design, agility in adapting and refining, to prototyping.
8. I am glad to see that the Shopee Product and Design Challenge has offered participants the opportunity to innovate by bringing their original ideas to reality in the form of fit-for-purpose products, through multiple rounds of sharpening your product solutions. I trust that you will continue to build on the lessons and experience that you have gained in your individual journeys to build impactful products that address real-world customer needs.
Know your stakeholders
9. Second, it is imperative to know your stakeholders. In any company or organisation, the process of developing and designing a product will involve balancing various interests.
a. Internally, you will need to resolve and reconcile competing demands – these can stem from factors such as resource limitations, differences in opinion, or technical challenges.
b. External stakeholders will also expect that corporates increasingly prioritise emerging trends such as sustainability and digital inclusiveness.
10. In the fast-moving technology and e-commerce industry, product managers and designers who can clearly articulate the ‘why’ of their product, work with diverse stakeholders to achieve alignment, and prioritise elements that are most critical will have the best shot at bringing a product idea to fruition.
11. Although this was a competitive Product and Design Challenge, I am told that participants have collaborated closely by proactively sharing knowledge, leveraging each other’s strengths, and co-creating novel ideas. Far more important than winning the competition are the skills you have learnt, insight you have gleaned, and inspiration that you have observed to set you on your journey at the intersection of technology, UI/UX and business.
Know your abilities
12. Lastly, it is vital that you know your abilities and skills as you look to build a career in the rapidly evolving technology space. Recognising your strengths and weaknesses is a key first step to help you to understand what is important to focus on as you proactively develop both technical and soft skills.
a. For product managers and designers, building your technical skillset and digital fluency will be imperative to help you stay effective in driving emerging technology solutions toward achieving business outcomes.
b. In addition, as product management calls for significant partnership in decision-making across a range of stakeholders, there will be an enduring need to develop soft skills that can help you exercise influence and collaborate more effectively.
13. I am heartened to see that the Shopee Product and Design Challenge includes training elements to help impart participants with useful skills, such as through the online workshops with training partners, as well as mentorship sessions with Shopee Product Management and Design teams. This is not a destination but a continuous journey of learning, unlearning, and growing, and in time to come – passing on your knowledge and skills.
14. I would like to thank Shopee for organising this Product and Design Challenge, as well as the various industry partners for their meaningful contributions. Once again, good job to all participants and may you strive forth to develop your passion and careers in product management and design.