Anthropologists and ethnographers. By having anthropologists study and interact with end-customers in their natural settings, Western firms can learn to tailor their business models and offerings to match users’ socio-economic and cultural context. For example, Intel’s People and Practices Research (PaPR) employs sociologists and ethnographers who spend months in emerging markets embedded in grassroots communities to identify the latent needs of local consumers. Dr Genevieve Bell, one of PaPR’s anthropologists, traveled extensively across China and India observing people in their homes to find out how they use and what they want from technology. Her ethnographic insights shaped Intel’s groundbreaking pricing models and partnership strategies for Chinese consumer market.
On that note, I’m proud to announce that I will be partnering with the Fedora Project for my practicum (an applied Masters thesis), where I will be performing exploratory research on their online open source development community. More details to come soon!