Bridging Ethnography and Path-finding Business Opportunities

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While ethnography has been integrated into the design research, new product development and corporate strategy, it has been less well integrated into path-finding for new business opportunities. We’ve developed a model for path-finding research that has three core parts: creating a business opportunity hypothesis from social flux, testing and validating the hypothesis, and catalyzing opportunities for the corporation. We provide a case study of how we used the approach around The Data Economy. We highlight three important aspects of the approach: shift of research focus from context to ecosystem; robust action, rather than funnel development for concepts, and present a tool we created called the Business Opportunity Canvas to convey research findings into action. We then highlight the direct implications of this shift for ethnographic projects, from a focus on how knowledge is produced and description of context, to an analysis of society and culture. We have not spelled out the entire process but have created a minimal viable product that can be experimented upon. Keywords: path-finding, ethnography, business opportunities, methods, case study, ecosystem, robust action, innovation, transformation.

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