Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A View of the Future – Trends Research, Ethnography and Design

On the value of trend analysis ...

"It always amazes me how many people believe that innovative concepts spring up from nowhere. In my view, this is an illusion. Once, in a presentation on trends and design process a question was posed by a young industrial design student. “This is all very interesting but what if I woke in the middle of the night with this amazing idea, from nowhere?” To be honest, not to burst any egos but innovation is more often than not the result of many pieces of valuable information such as general observations both conscious and subconscious, media influences, interactions, discussions as well as a mix of intuition and common sense.

As a Senior Futures Specialist for Nokia Design, I am in a privileged position to provide this type of information from the evolving changes in society to direct or inspire design innovations. Our trends team works as part of a multidisciplinary design team to shape a view of the future. We can provide a vision from the existing facts in society, how these are applied becomes the measure of success. At Nokia, we believe that nothing compares to the intimacy of face to face communication but people will always deal with the barriers of time and distance. We aim at making mobile communication as natural as possible, and technology as human as possible. There is no better way of achieving this than by People Centered Design. Its not about consumers, it’s not about users. It’s all about people.

The endless question: “Why Trend analysis?”

Over the past years, the term trend has experienced inflation and is used in various ways to describe fads, cool hunting, the latest thing, what is fashionable and much more. In truth, a trend is a tendency, a means of describing changes and evolutions basically in any topic. We particularly focus on researching changes in the values, attitudes and behaviors of people. Consumer trend research is an extensive process that encapsulates many facets from ethnography, observation and analysis to academic research on changes in existing and emerging trends. Trends do not change on the last day of the year and we don’t pull new trends out of our sleeves. All trends can be tracked for extensive periods of time to uncover slight or rapid changes which provide new visions on the direction in which the world/societies/people’s behavior may be heading. Albeit, not rocket science, but a social science on which the validity of the future hypothesis hold true. Over the past years there have been many influences on the values, attitudes and behaviors of people including war, natural disasters, political and economical shifts and new social paradigms. To understand their impact is to envision two to five years ahead because that is when their manifestations unfold. Just as any change in the lives of people it takes time to be able to address the affects and thus the emergence of new behaviors or expressions of the state of society i.e. through graphics, colors, form factors, applications etc."    (Continued via uiGarden)    [Usability Resources]

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