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What Can We Learn From Genevieve Bell – Anthropologist at Intel

Creating a great user experience is what it is all about. Build a good product, couple it with a bad user experience, and you have a failure on your hands. The smart companies around the world realise this – they are hiring diverse teams of social scientists and other disciplines to bring new lenses on the main issue: the user experience.

So I read this excellent article in the New York Times about Genevieve Bell, the resident anthropologist at Intel. Dr. Bell’s title at Intel, the world’s largest producer of semiconductors, is director of user experience research at Intel Labs, the company’s research arm. She runs a skunk works of some 100 social scientists and designers who travel the globe, observing how people use technology in their homes and in public. The team’s findings help inform the company’s product development process, and are also often shared with the laptop makers, automakers and other companies that embed Intel processors in their goods.

Intel, which has long dominated the laptop processor field, was surprisingly slow to acknowledge the burgeoning market for smartphone chips. In fact, Dr. Bell and her team, among others, had forecast the mobile trend early on, says Diane M. Bryant, the general manager of Intel’s data center group, but Intel didn’t prioritize it at the time. Although the company recently introduced new chips for mobile devices, PC makers are still Intel’s largest customer base, accounting for $33 billion of its $52.7 billion in revenue last year, quotes the New York Times.

“What Genevieve and her organization have done is to shift our mind-set,” Ms. Bryant says. “It takes a very different skill set, a unique domain experience, to sense the market and identify the emerging signals and what is going to matter to the end user.”

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