Business expectations of design research
Clive Grinyer, Director of Customer Experience,
The value of research in business
Two years ago Orange collaborated with the British Design Council on a project
that looked at ‘design research’ and how it influences our ability
to understand the future. After a year of research activity, however, we were
unable to wholly quantify ‘design research’. And so, many questions
remain. We can, however, offer some insight into what it is that businesses hope
to gain from such information.
What is ‘business research’?
For Orange business research is an amalgamation of the following three areas:
Quantifying design research
- Market Research — gathering information about people who use your products
- Logical research — finding out about the future technologies that will
affect and enable our
company to develop new products and services, then determining the good from the
- Design research — exploring viability through experimentation
From a business perspective, research has a very tangible impact — to manage
risk. It allows us to make considered decisions about what to do and what not
to do. By integrating with business research activity, design can contribute in
helping to paint the bigger picture, and so enabling the company to make informed
The customer as researcher
Orange spends a significant amount of money on research. As a company, we pride
ourselves on being straightforward, honest, truthful, dynamic and refreshing.
And, because we need to know if this message is being translated to our customers,
it is imperative that we keep asking questions:
We find out by asking them what they think.
- Does our customer see any of those things?
- Are they satisfied with our services?
- Do they share the values of the brand that Orange is aiming to communicate?
- Do they share the same values as Orange?
The benefit of simple technology
When it comes to technology, our research is specific. A good example might be
when we take a selection of typical handsets and ask people to use them while
carrying out normal everyday activities. Our goal here is also specific: we want
this research to generate something for us — money, or ARPU — ‘Average
Revenue Per User’. Because while it is our remit to help people use technology,
or to make it simple and easy, it is not solely because we want them to enjoy
using our product, but because we want to encourage them to increase their use
of it. That is our business model. We don’t actually sell phones —
in fact, we pay people to buy them. In so doing, we hope that when they then use
their phone, that the technology and services we provide prove beneficial and
easy to use. Hence, customer research is fundamental.