Recently, the New York Times reported
France Télécom has become the first mobile operator to transmit voice calls and audio in high definition, part of an effort by telecommunications companies to improve the quality of cellphone conversations.
France Télécom, whose mobile unit is Orange, rolled out the network in Moldova this month. The country was chosen because it has France Télécom’s newest third-generation network, which can accommodate the technology.
“We need to provide our mobile customers with a better voice experience,” said Yves Tyrode, the head of France Télécom’s Technocenter research division. “That’s why we’ve invested in this technology. Because we think it will differentiate us.”
This is exactly what my colleagues and I (at another agency) recommended to France Télécom in early 2001.
Like many of the opportunities we develop with clients, the why is more important than the what. At the time of our ethnographic research with French mobile phone users, we saw a lot of cultural barriers to the level of adoption France Télécom was planning for. The slides before the one excerpted above outline a long-term strategy for reframing the mobile phone as an advanced device for more than simply voice calling. It’s very gratifying to read the quote from Yves Tyrode who takes into consideration the type of experience they provide to customers. And of course a “better” experience is pretty meaningless; our research and design work led the idea of better sound quality, but the why beneath that and all the other ideas we delivered is really the big thing. Organizations don’t necessarily need us to help them with simple problems (where the problem is known and the solution is known) — if you know that people hate the sound quality, then develop a technology to fix it. And while that’s often something they get anyway, our specialty is working where the problem itself (and thus the solution) isn’t known.
For some other examples of our work reaching the market, check out
- Innovative Outcomes Take Years To Launch
- Iteration is Innovation
- Turn It On Again
- Sony ships advanced concepts
- Putting research results back on the shelf
- User Research for Belkin’s GoStudio