Creating Value through Workplace B2B Ethnographies

The project was based in the Research & Development group of a Fortune 100 company, a global mail and document services company. The company was interested in expanding into emerging markets, and in particular, creating products that would specifically meet the needs of, and provide value to those markets.Until this engagement began, all of their projects had been United States based. This engagement was not only situated halfway around the world, but had a very broad strategic question, basically asking how the company could create value in postal and financial institutions in rural and urban India.

The project involved detailed and longitudinal ethnographies at various sites – govt organizations like Cooperative Banks, Railways, Post Offices; and Small Medium Private Businesses. The method of working on the 18 month engagement was an iterative process based in extensive customer observation, brainstorming, and concept prototyping. At the beginning of the project, we met in person, and did field work together. We also established protocols for sending weekly written reports and pictures, and had a weekly hour long conference call. In between, there were occasional emails and an intermittent phone call. We set up a project blog for quick information about site visits and questions, and as a result, the team was able to use the weekly phone calls more productively to discuss site visit learnings in more detail, ideas, and future directions, rather than asking clarifying questions.

– Initial explorations of people, systems and processes
– Identifying needs, gaps and pain points
– Creating value propositions from the opportunities that emerged
– Feeding back to client who built rough propotypes
– Crafting deep dives and learning immersions for our Clients when they visited
– Testing the prototypes iteratively over time once put in use by participants