Research and Design for Emerging Economies

Technology companies training their eyes on the growing mass of consumers and businesses in emerging economy regions are faced with the challenge of catering to diverse customers in unexpected environments. Bringing technology to underserved and emerging markets requires identifying real customer needs and designing high quality interactions that can be quickly learned and easily completed.

Trained in qualitative research methods, industrial and communication design, and architecture, the ethnographers and designers at CKS Consulting are skilled at understanding diverse cultural contexts, and identifying the opportunities for innovative, technology-enabled services that can replace existing frustrations and limitations.

CKS Consulting is the world’s first and only research and design practice that works for and in emerging economies. Headquartered in Bangalore, India, with offices in New Delhi, CKS has conceptualized and developed innovative products and services that harness the new possibilities of media, communications and technology for leading Indian and multinational technology houses and service companies.

User research in emerging markets is not as cut and dry as one would imagine. As Aditya Dev Sood, Founder and CEO of CKS, says, “There is no single approach to user research. We use a number of open ended approaches that are used in all areas of social research, from market research on one hand to quantitative and qualitative and academic research. I would say that our strength at CKS lies in being able to cull out and somewhat innovatively mix and match different techniques.?

Apart from using classic and widely available market research techniques such as statistical analysis, focus group discussions and interviews, CKS does some very fine grained ethnography. CKS has also worked with some of their clients to develop techniques, such as ‘wallet mapping’ which tells a great deal about the personality of the subject and the kinds of transactions that he or she has with the outside world. ‘Context documentation’ and mapping the diurnal routine of subjects are other means to encourage a subject to tell researchers stories about the contents and the different meanings of their lived spaces. CKS has also built strong partnerships with research organizations in Brazil, China, and other emerging economies, which allows for comparison and synthesis of findings from diverse cultural contexts.

The work at CKS does not stop there however. Some of the most exciting work at CKS is being done in the area of soft and hard prototyping. The designers at CKS build mock-prototypes of proposed designs for market testing. This user feedback further refines and sharpens the final product or service offering. Sood believes, “For us, questions of user research and design are joined at the hip. We do not believe in design in the sense of signature geniuses that create brand labels. We believe in design in the sense of the difficult and rewarding engagement with technology teams, the fine grained documentation of user practice, the conceptualization of new opportunities through a discussion of all that has come out of the field. This calls for a multi-disciplinary team approach, which cuts across different kinds of interaction. While some of us understand the form factor, or visual displays, others seek to analyze and track the affective experience around communication, and the content and social connections that reticulate around the technology. So it is this additional design synthesis that we apply to the data, which offers the greatest value to our clients.?

CKS believes that value added services conceptualized and articulated in emerging markets like India, China or Brazil have a wider relevance and can be applied to developed markets as well.

For more information:

A profile of CKS can be accessed online at this location:

Aditya Dev Sood
Founder and CEO
CKS Consulting Pvt. Ltd

Priya George
Strategic Communications

CKS Consulting Pvt. Ltd
4004, 100′ Road
HAL II Stage
Bangalore Karnataka
India 560038
V: +91.80.5152.3660
F: +91.80.2535.0181

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