Technology today is all about trying to find a human need and then creating a tool to fulfill said need. This has been the working methodology of most of the technology for decades now; find an issue, and build a solution for the acid issue.
Today, it’s all about finding ways that we can find a solution to a problem. It’s easy to look back in history, though, and find ‘expert insight’ into massive successes that were deemed to be initial mistakes.
From the iPhone to the rise of apps like Airbnb, just about every big idea was decried by experts in their respective industries. People would hate the idea of living with a stranger for the evening, or by using a screen that reacts to their touch.
It’s a comical thing to look back on now, given the success of these products. The thing is though; just about every one of these calls was made with a person in mind.
The technology of an iPhone or an Airbnb app was always applauded massively. What was not applauded, though, was the idea of how people might react to said technology. They were wrong massively about how people would react to technology.
This is why anthropology is such a huge part of making a successful product or business launch today. You might have an awesome product idea…but who wants to actually use it?
Many companies simply don’t make that connection. The most successful ones will have a fleet of experts working away in the background, trying to come up with a viable solution. It will help them to understand what they are dealing with.
The least successful ones, though, will simply just carry out some weighted surveys and interviews. That’s not really going to cut it though, is it?
Many companies, though, have failed purely because they weren’t ready to look at the anthropological facts behind what they were creating.
They either misread the audience or they go down a route of creating something their audience does not want or need.
This is a big reason why many VCs are able to succeed where other start-ups can; they get the chance to run their experiments multiple times before they hit the sweet spot.
With another start-up, though, you have just one shot to make it work. So today, we have to get used to the fact that it’s all about trying to work out what the best way to interact with our audience is.
What do they want? It’s all about trial and error, really. Being willing to try it out and see how people react. And if they don’t react as you wanted/hoped, then you need to make some fundamental changes to what you are realizing.
It’s a tough thing to get right, but in business today it’s almost essential.