Thursday, February 15, 2007

Discussion around practice theory and some new results

Oskar Korkman and Mika Pantzar wrote earlier this month an article for Talouselämä that is the largest weekly economic journal in Scandinavia. Their article, entitled "In everyday life customers are similar" discusses the importance of everyday practices as a basis for business development and consumer research. They consider, for instance, the role of segmentation in business. They also refer to Clayton Christensen who has presented the idea that segmenting markets by price point, product type and customer demographics does not reflect the way customers actually experience. This theme is brought up in a book called "The Innovator’s Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth" by Christensen and Raynor. Korkman and Pantzar continue by discussing the history of customer segmentation, for instance, how Alfred Sloan as the director of General Motors in the 1920s applied the concept of segmentation. They conclude that the point of view of everyday practices can be used as a unifying principle when the customer market is considered.

Yesterday I gave a presentation on Kulta project at Fujitsu that is one of the case study partners in the Tekes project. The project builds on practice theory that is used to model and understand changing needs of customers. The presentation outlined the basic principles of practice theory, its applications, and how the domain could be modeled using adaptive informatics methods.

A snapshot of the Pracsim simulation.

One recent development was also brought up in the presentation. Based on the core ideas of practice theory by Mika Pantzar and Elisabeth Shove, we have developed a simulation and visualization environment called Pracsim. A Java-based demo and a technical report by Lasse Lindqvist, Timo Honkela and Mika Pantzar are available. The audience agreed with a finding that the simulation is visually quite captivating. This conclusion was made also when the demo was recently shown in a meeting at RAY that is another case study partner in the Kulta project.

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