tic and dedicated actors. The
rehearsals were over. The real
performance could begin.
The takeaway: Hiring a top
researcher with an established
reputation can help establish a
new field and achieve recognition faster. Don’t be afraid of
hiring people who are more
experienced than you. The
strategy of investing in a field,
not just in personal careers,
pays off: One automatically
develops with the field.
[ 1] Giussani, B. “Home
Truths About Telecom.”
June 7, 2007.
[ 2] Broadbent, S.
and Bauwens, V.
interactions 15, 1 (2008).
September + October 2010
specialized magazines [ 2], and
conduct interviews on the radio.
By this time, our group had not
only been able to develop a good
reputation inside and outside
the company, but had also created an increased awareness and
acceptance of the ethnographic
approach as a key method for
understanding user needs.
The takeaway: External publicity creates internal recognition.
When you publish or are present
in the media, people inside your
company not only become aware
of your existence, they also realize your expertise is respected
Feed the Buzz
Expectations were high. We had
to keep proving we were making a difference to the company.
Our longitudinal study was
unique and became the flagship
of our research activities. It was
a very ambitious project, as it
was designed to understand the
adoption processes of all telecom
services (from communication to
entertainment) by tracking real
user behavior over a period of
time within 60 households across
Switzerland. The amount of data
collected was massive, ranging from timelines, flat plans,
and diaries of communication
to social maps, interviews, and
To create a buzz, we spent a
lot of time advertising the results
of our studies. It was also necessary to advertise results inside
the company in order to influence decision-making processes.
As both the User Observatory
and our approach were still very
new at the time, it was important to do several presentations
in person and at different hierarchical levels. What helped us
most was to publish an article in
The Economist [ 1], write stories in
various Swiss newspapers and
Managing the user
In today’s increasingly chal-
lenging economic environment,
especially in the telecommu-
nications sector, the role of our
User Observatory is more impor-
tant than ever. But we cannot
rest on the laurels of previous
achievements and are therefore
constantly adapting our goals
and methods to heightened
management demands such as
“monetize,” “industrialize,” “cre-
ate impact,” “differentiate,” “be a
If we want to go on satisfying
management, we must dem-
onstrate we have a remarkable
impact that no one else in the
company can contribute. We
must deliver unique user insights
that enable the company to
answer current strategic ques-
tions and support the launch of
strategic products and initiatives.
This implies not only do we need
a unique, profound, and holistic
understanding of user behavior
today, but we should also provide
a compelling vision for tomorrow.