Oh, So You Are a Sociologist in the Corporate World. What Is It You Do?

Oh hello you, you must still have me on some sort of RSS feed! It’s been almost two years since I started working at Intel, and I’m a truly a sociologist in the wild. Here’s a short, incomplete list of things I’ve done in my current job, over the past two years. Let me be clear. I have done almost none of these things alone. Almost none of these things can be done by yourself, or with only colleagues who are just like you. And so:

– An ethnographic study of precision agriculture among farmers, technologists, agronomists, in Australia. We looked at a complete ecosystem (technology, communications protocols, data handling, usage, business models, farmer participation, industry advocates, chemists in the lab, design innovation teams) of socio-technical implementation and planning for Internet of Things in the world of agriculture.

– A short interview study, with auctioneers and appraisers, about sentimental value. We were looking at how to think about a data economy, using sentimental/market value as a proxy for understanding the value vectors of personal data.

– A white paper about the future of digital storytelling. It was short, it was sweet, it looked at the business innovation potential for immersive video gaming and experiences.

– A white paper about the future of distributed ledgers / blockchain. It was long, it was technical, it contained a complete business model projection for implementation.

– A network analysis of voice and digital assistant startup ecosystem. A complete network analysis of startups, to identify where business opportunities lie in the emergent ecosystems of personal assistance, voice, natural language processing.

– An ecosystem analysis of finance and technology. How is the finance world changing, what technologies are they using, what platform opportunities are going to open up over the next 5 years.

– Ran a workshop on fintech and the future of finance. To intersect the research on finance with the more immediate product development, sales, and strategy concerns of my co-workers across the company.

– Facilitated a workshop using personas to brainstorm the future of computing. Used very design-thinking methodology to collect and analyze future scenarios and usages for compute over the next 5 years.

– Created scenarios about digital marketplaces. Not only trying to figure out what the future of digital markets might look like, but also getting more specific about the technical decomposition of those marketplaces and what experiences they might enable.

– Wrote a conference paper on shared data and data sheds in Internet of Things.

– Wrote (well, writing) conference paper on innovation, and how to do it at a large corporation.

– Conducted an end-to-end industry analysis of financial services

– Gave a talk to our user experience group about commensuration.

– Gave (well, giving in a week or two) a talk to a finance and pricing group about commensuration.

I’ve done observation, interviews, network analysis, secondary synthesis of research, workshops, a little bit of finance, business plan analysis, and scenario-building. This is all in the midst of learning to work productively with: customers, internal clients, consulting agencies, sales teams, engineers (many, many engineers), finance people, and a slew of people who don’t care what you have to say, but still need to hear it.

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