Not all businesses have the resources to have a cultural anthropologist and her team travel the globe to get their fingers on the pulse of what consumers want from their technology, but Intel Corporation does and the New York Times ran an interesting report in this Sunday's Business Section (1/15/14). The Intel team, led by Dr. Genevieve Bell, observes how people use technology in order to forecast consumer trends.
The report notes that some years ago, Dr. Bell's team interviewed parents in China "who regarded home computers as distractions from their children's school work." Based on those findings Intel developed a prototype PC that allowed parents to prevent their children from playing online games during home study time.
What was really interesting about this report, is that even Intel – with all its resources – does not always bet on the right horse, so to speak. Even though Dr. Bell, among others, had forecast the mobile trend early on, Intel didn't prioritize it at the time and is now playing catch up and just recently introduced new chips for mobile devices.
So what is the future of technology according to Dr. Bell and her team? Hyper-personal technology: Voice-recognition systems, fitness trackers and the like have "forced Intel into a more people-centric era of personal computing," according to the report. (And don't miss what Dr. Bell and her team have found about how much technology people bring to cars and use while they bored in a traffic jam, contrary to the carmakers' trend to imbed technology to prevent distracted driving. Anybody see the benefit of synching their personal devices with their car?)
I applaud a company like Intel, who still relies on PC makers for the majority of its business ($33 billion of its $52.7 billion in revenue last year), to shift its focus to people. After all, Sinu was founded on the premise that technology is just a means to a solution and it's the end-user – people – that should drive that solution.