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The Science of Desire James Kidwell Andrew Goetz Lauren Moore
Ethnography • The use of qualitative research to explain human societies and culture • To describe people through writing • Examples • Shadowing people, 1:1 interviews, personal and non-personal surveys
Ethnography A species of anthropologist who can, among other things, identify what's missing in people's lives and work with designers and engineers to help dream up products and services to fill those needs Companies have been harnessing the social sciences, including ethnography since the 1930’s By closely observing people where they live and work, companies can zero in on their customers unarticulated desires
Corporate Ethnography Creating unlikely stars within companies in retailing, manufacturing, financial services, and consulting firms IBM has hired a dozen ethnographers in the last three years Schools around country are ramping up social science programs and steering anthropology students toward jobs in the corporate world
Sirius Satellite Radio Sirius hires Ziba Design (from Portland) to help them catch up to their biggest rival XM Ziba dispatches a team of social scientists, designers and ethnographers Spent four weeks shadowing people, how they listen to music, watch TV and even peruse gossip magazines
Sirius Satellite Radio • Concluded that people wanted a portable satellite radio player that was easy to use and load with music for later playback • Sirius S50 comes out • Slim as a cigarette pack • Store up to 50 hours of music and digital commentary • Color screen and handy buttons
Marriott • 2004, Marriott hires IDEO Inc the rethink hotel experience • New type of customer: the tech savvy road warrior • IDEO dispatches a team of seven consultants including a anthropologist • Conclusion: Marriott needed social zones in their hotels with smaller table, brighter lights, and wireless Web access • New Kiosk for self check in
General Electric • Execs wanted to get into the plastic-fiber business for products such as fire-retardant jackets and bulletproof vests • For a few months, researchers interviewed presidents, managers, and engineers at textile makers • The yearlong study produced one profound insight that led GE to pull a strategic U-turn • What it found was plastic-fibers was an artisanal industry with customers who want to collaborate from the earliest stages to develop high-performance materials.
Intel CEO Otellini has turned Intel into a company that is much more focused on consumer products: entertainment systems for the home; handheld computers for doctors; cheap, rugged PCs for emerging markets Lead to the development of the popular wireless Centrino mobile technology. One example: Intel and researchers realized that fishermen could use wireless technology to transmit the tally of their daily catch directly to the Alaska Fish & Game Dept. Intel ethnographers helped devise the $500 Community India PC, which could turn into a big seller as hundreds of millions of rural Indians access the Web.
Questions How many of you would be interested in working the it ethnography field, or in a team with ethnographers? Is the research ethnographers conduct worth the price? Are companies really getting a competitive advantage? Do you think that this is a trend that has continued and will continue?
Bibliography Ante, Spencer. "The Science of Desire." Business Week 5 June 2006: 1-3. Web. 15 Feb 2010. <http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_23/b3987083.htm