The article The Science of Desire presents ethnography and its proponents play an important role in modern business world. Author Ante began with an example, the satellite-radio war, to show how ethnography worked in business. In satellite-radio war, Sirius Satellite Ratio made a team of social scientists, designers, and ethnographers. Through studying customers’ habit of listening to music, watching TV and reading magazines, the team concluded several facts that can defeat competitors. Then, depending on the research, Sirius launched its new product, the Sirius S50. Later, as the company’s wish, the S50 became one of the hottest sellers in that season.
How does ethnography work in business? Many examples show brainstorms often happened with the guidance of ethnographers because ethnographers can find out what is people’s missing in their lives and help designers to improve products and services to satisfy customers. The key of ethnographer’s work is a deeper understanding of customers than what does traditional research. Sometimes, people have unarticulated desires, but traditional research or survey cannot find these desires. Company should closely observe people where they live and work, and find out what they prefer but they do not aware yet. Because of the prominent effects, more and more companies, especially large companies such as IBM and Intel, pay more attention to hire ethnographers to join in their design and produce. Therefore, schools pay more attention to anthropology courses and recruit more anthropology faculties and students. Marietta L. Baba, Michigan State University’s dean of social sciences, says, “Ethnography [has] escaped from academia, where it had been held hostage.”
The next issue falls to what is right way to use ethnography in business. Many people still think using ethnography in business a little flaky. Why? First, as author Ante (2006) said, “ethnographers’ findings often do not lead to a product or service, only a generalized sense of what people want” (p. 100). Even if ethnographers find something, it also needs designers and engineers to make products or services to fit it. This process is not easy, even the findings cannot transmit into products and service. Second, ethnographers’ research usually takes a long time, and the result from using the findings needs long time to come out. Therefore, how to use ethnography right is very important. The author gave five advises to do ethnography right. First, “Think Big Thoughts”. Companies should used ethnography in big and broad questions, not in small and detailed ones. Second, “Due Diligence”. Companies should use the right consultants for their projects. Third, “Start Early”. Companies should use ethnography at the beginning of the development process of projects. Forth, “Sell, Sell, Sell”. Managers should constantly tell executives why use ethnography and how it work. Fifth, “Build a Culture”. Companies should make the thought of using ethnography into everyone of the companies and make it become a culture of companies. With a right way to use ethnography, some people believe ethnography could become a core competence.
At last, three examples showed ethnography made different effects in business. First, ethnography refreshes products. In 2004, Marriott hired IDEO Inc. to rethink the hotel experience in order to attract more young customers. After research, IDEO found hotels generally do not serve small groups of business travelers. Therefore, Marriott reinvent their lobbies for meetings, creating for each a social zone, with new equipments such as small tables, brighter lights, and wireless Web access. Furthermore, Marriott will allow solo customers to work or relax in larger, quiet, semiprivate spaces. As guests wish, Marriott is considering a new kiosk to let guests check in by themselves. Second, ethnography cracks markets. GE wanted to get into the plastic-fiber business, which provides material for higher-value,...