pjk pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Fri May 17 17:52:19 EDT 2002

Subject:   Innoveillance

(from INNOVATION, 1 May 2002)

It's one thing to conduct market surveys and focus groups, to ask
people  how they use your product and quiz them on what they think
of new features.  It's quite another to actually see for yourself
how they're using -- or  misusing -- your product. But (privacy
issues to be dealt with at a later  date) that's the latest in
corporate intelligence-gathering. "Innoveillance" market research
combines video and audio technologies, and  remote diagnostics to
give innovators a window onto the adoption and  adaptation of their
offerings, says Fortune magazine columnist and MIT  Media Lab
research associate Michael Schrage. One medical device company that
videotaped how nurses used a prototype drug delivery system 
immediately saw that its product wasn't being used as intended.
Observers  also witnessed the kinds of shortcuts nurses took to get
the system to  work, and at what points they would either ask for
help or simply give up.  Such information led to a fundamental
redesign of both the product and how  hospital staffs are trained to
use it. That, in turn, completely changed  how the company marketed
its systems to hospitals and nurses. (Technology  Review May 2002)

Good companies have always had programs for following up on their
customers' satisfaction with their products and services, and making
such followup part of a quality control cycle. Have we now entered a
sort of 'informational night' where innovation only consists of
design without feedback? With a catchy new word, "innoveillance" and
a redeeming metaphor, "night vision," another high-tech rescue
operation is mounted for a piece of common sense lost among the
technologically lobotomized.

Of course this still assumes that technological obsolescence hasn't
already set in when the customer gets the product. In that case the
customer isn't qualified to render an opinion.  --PJK

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