Everyone has thoughts.
Writing them down makes them powerful.
My research in the last seven or so months on emerging markets has led me to a few obvious, and a few not so obvious conclusions.
The first is seemingly obvious but can not be understated: different cultures require different solutions. You can not just repackage some product or service built for some audience and expect it to be successful elsewhere. Having been trained in Anthropology and Psychology, I have been exposed to an extensive variety of classic academic literature which presents quite clearly that there is no one "reality" and that your culture of origin determines a heck of a lot about who you are and how you will react to some stimulus. Interviews we have conducted at the Institute of Design with business leaders working in China, India and other emerging markets support this notion with many tales of success and failure generally related to how "user-centered" some offering or service was in its design. Read an interview I conducted with Tom MacTavish, Vice-President for Motorola Labs, and published as an ID "white paper" here: Knowing Customers and Business Relationships in Emerging China. This interview as well as several others I took part in were first released at Institute of Design's New China Markets Conference. Check out the site to download other interviews and review the fabulous program.
Second, much more care in regards to developing relationships is required in emerging markets like China, India, Brazil, Russia, among others. One can not assume business practice to be as developed as the United States and Europe. Tom MacTavish calls this difference as being "relationship-based" rather than "transactional-based". In this country and in most of Europe, one can assume a contract negotiated and signed will result in some work or delivery completed with little to no real "Relationship". Assumptions like this in most emerging markets will get one into a lot of trouble. Get to know who you are working with, develop a suite of relationships and move forward with small deals building to larger ones so that a level of common expectations and understanding can be reached. Expect initial deals to go poorly.
Third, take entering new markets as an opportunity for your company to know more about the world, your competition and possibilities for innovation. Other markets' expectations of products and services are drastically different and will force your company to make new choices about what to make and sell. This will promote a new type of research and development regarding your company's offerings which can and will positively impact what you do in your "home" markets. Furthermore, growth in these emerging markets is so fast and furious that even moderate success can mean serious revenues for your firm.
There is a lot more to discuss and know about this topic. For more information, look for future publications and conferences from the Institute of Design and check out a couple of my favorite books: Why Globalization Works by Martin Wolf and the very practical, Emerging Markets by Pacek and Thorniley.
About, With and For '05
The conference was fabulous. Elizabeth Churchill's presentation was illuminating; Rockwell and Gage's thoughtful; the LEGO Serious Play workshop inspiring; Scott Hirsch's eye opening... well worth effort. Thanks so much to all who presented and attended. More info can be found here: About, With and For.
HP & IDSA's DESIGN ABOUT The Other 6 Billion People Conference
I facilitated a workshop with Jump Associates and Anjali Kelkar at DESIGN ABOUT, November 3 - 4 in Palo Alto, California. HP's Brand Design and Experience Director, Sam Lucente, hosted the event which focused on emerging markets and the base of the pyramid. A DVD and website documenting the event will be released soon.
Although I have received several worthy and relevant comments posted to this blog, the flood of "spam" comments mostly related to sex and drugs has forced me to turn comments off until I can figure out what to do about it. If you have a comment go to the contact section of my site and email it to me. I'll post it for you even if it disagrees with what I write.