The Rise of the Chief Anthropology Officer

As consumers, we are confronted by an overwhelming variety of the near identical products and services.

Organizations face incredibly fierce competition with commoditization occurring early in a product or services life cycle. Market advantages of new technologies or features are short-lived, resulting in price or feature wars.

Barriers to getting new products to market are incredibly low. New frameworks and manufacturing technologies mean cost to develop new products has plummeted while new technologies and features are easily copied. 

The use of data and marketing technology enables companies to target consumers in granular detail. Companies can create highly customized products and offers then market to a very specific audience, leading to an increasing number of products differentiated only by minute technical details.

In this environment, the ability to quickly develop new products and features is less relevant than the ability to understand your customers behaviors and motivations, including those behaviors and motivations they do not know they have.

Enter the CAO, the Chief Anthropology Officer.

As customer understanding becomes the most powerful sustainable competitive advantage, the comparative study of human societies and cultures and their development has become a core business competency. The ability to conduct qualitative ethnographic research, develop insights based on that research,  then translate those insights into business strategy is as important as the technology strategy the CTO is driving.