Navi Radjou has an interesting post on how Microsoft approaches it’s global R&D over at the Harvard Business blog, excerpt:
Microsoft Reinvents Its Global R&D Model – Navi Radjou – HarvardBusiness.org
What impressed me most about TEM is its staff members’ multidisciplinary backgrounds. In addition to computer scientists and engineers, TEM also includes experts in the areas of ethnography, sociology, political science, and development economics, all of which help Microsoft understand the social context of technology in emerging markets like India. For instance, we met with Aishwarya Ratan, an associate researcher trained as a development economist, who is exploring the delivery of financial services to poor and low-literate clients using mobile technologies. Another researcher, Nimmi Rangaswamy, who has a background in social anthropology, is conducting ethnographic research in urban slums to identify the socio-economic needs of micro-entrepreneurs there — many of which can be addressed with technology.
By leveraging its multidisciplinary talent, TEM has developed some amazing solutions designed for emerging and underserved markets, both in rural and urban environments. For example, it has developed the MultiPoint mouse, which allows a single computer to be shared by multiple children in developing nations. My personal favourite is Digital Green (which I nicknamed “American Idol for Farmers”), a Web 2.0 initiative which tapes progressive farmers to disseminate their best practices across agricultural communities. Digital Green just won the 2008 Stockholm Challenge Award in the Culture category.
Undoubtedly Microsoft is pioneering the R&D 2.0 model that I discussed in my last post — an organizational model that relies on anthropologists and development economists to first decipher the socio-cultural needs of users in emerging markets like India and then use these deep insights to develop appropriate technology solutions. And it’s telling that Microsoft picked India as the epicentre of its global R&D transformation.
I don’t think Microsoft is alone in taking this approach in India or elsewhere, but it is notable that Microsoft recognizes that technological advancement alone will not lead to greater success in the future – particularly in emerging markets.
Related articles by Zemanta
- Microsoft Reinvents Its Global R&D Model (blogs.harvardbusiness.org)
- Microsoft Will Move More Employees Offshore if Obama Proposals Pass (businesspundit.com)