Hosted by: National Association for the Practice of Anthropology
Of interest to: practicing/applied anthropologists
Primary Theme: Practicing / Applied Career Development
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The business world traditionally conceives of “customers” in terms of direct relationships and deliberate engagement with products and services. Anthropologists, by contrast, know that any product or service becomes the locus of a complex ecosystem of stakeholder groups with different types of engagement. In this workshop, we take a step back from familiar approaches to “customer ethnography” and move beyond simple subject-object conceptualizations of “the customer” that predominate in current approaches to business strategy and innovation. We will instead explore broader frameworks, drawn from our forthcoming book, for thinking about customer & user engagement. Workshop participants will take a “complex human ecosystem” approach to the customers engaged by business, and will apply a new typology of user experiences—including non-direct types of experiences like “ambient,” “associate,” “intermediary,” and “proxy”. Working together in small groups, participants will explore how this expanded perspective can help businesses or social enterprises reimagine both their customers and their products or services—with particular emphasis on understanding and reaching out to individuals and populations that are overlooked, underserved, or disenfranchised by existing offerings. The presenters will share examples from their own work in healthcare, urban planning, education, and other fields to bring the ecosystem perspective and experiential typology to life. Together, we will develop new ways for anthropologists to help business and social enterprise create more beneficial outcomes for customers and society. This is a revised version of the presenters’ very well-received 2017 AAA workshop, with an updated typology and redesigned group activities.