This chapter focuses on users and how their needs may be incorporated in the design of high-tech products. After discussing demand, markets, and user needs and surveying the evolution of user orientation, user-friendliness, user-centred design, and human-machine interaction in the information and communication technology industry, the chapter reports an ethnographic study of telecommunications equipment design. It shows that the job of the design team in a high-tech industry where firms collaborate was just as likely to be the design of the organisational arrangements for the development and delivery of new products and services as the design of the products and services themselves. Design as an activity links many of the functions in the business enterprise and its environment; building such links is an essential part of the design and innovation process. The chapter also demonstrates that usability testing took a very particular form in which to pay attention to users needs. Some unexpected findings were made that had to be incorporated into a future product design.

in Innovation by demand
Open Access (free)
An interdisciplinary approach to the study of demand and its role in innovation

This book brings together a range of sociologists and economists to study the role of demand and consumption in the innovative process. Starting with a broad conceptual overview of ways that the sociological and economics literatures address issues of innovation, demand and consumption, it goes on to offer different approaches to the economics of demand and innovation through an evolutionary framework, before reviewing how consumption fits into evolutionary models of economic development. The book then looks at food consumption as an example of innovation by demand, including an examination of the dynamic nature of socially constituted consumption routines. It includes an analysis of how African Americans use consumption to express collective identity and discusses the involvement of consumers in innovation, focusing on how consumer needs may be incorporated in the design of high-tech products. It also argues for the need to build an economic sociology of demand that goes from micro-individual through to macro-structural features.

This book offers broad conceptual overviews of ways that the sociological and economics literatures address issues of innovation, demand, and consumption. It looks at the sociological literature on consumption, focusing on research that offers alternative or complementary views to the concepts of ‘conspicuous consumption’ and individual choice. It also argues that there is more to the economics of consumption than the mainstream economists' paradigm of utility maximisation, reviews how consumption fits into ‘evolutionary’ models of economic development, examines the routine nature of food consumption, analyses how African Americans use consumption to express collective identity, discusses the involvement of consumers in innovation, considers users and how their needs may be incorporated (successfully or otherwise) in the design of high-tech products, and stresses the need to build an economic sociology/political economy of demand that goes from micro-individual through to macro-structural features.

in Innovation by demand