IBM Hired Hundreds of Designers to Figure Out What Customers Want
A few months ago, senior executives at Vodafone's Irish division sat down with a 16-year-old boy to ask him about his daily routine and, specifically, how he uses his smartphone. The kid told them that the first thing he does in the morning is check Snapchat. On the way to school, Snapchat. On the way home, Snapchat. Sometimes he stops by an ice-cream shop, picks up frozen yogurt bars and uses the free Wi-fi to upload videos onto, yes, Snapchat. No, he didn't know what network he used and had never seen a Vodafone commercial (because young people don't watch TV). Only his mom calls or texts him. What about contacting friends? Snapchat.
The meeting's hosts, a team from International Business Machines Corp.'s services division, watched their guests' befuddled expressions and judged the workshop a resounding success. IBM had been hired to help guide a digital transformation at Vodafone Ireland and wanted the wireless carrier's senior management to get the unvarnished truth from a flesh-and-blood customer who didn't care about their brand (or their feelings). Later, IBM would use insights from the kid and other customers to build products that—hopefully—people actually want to use.
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