David Armano has a wonderful post on becoming a Digital Anthropologist.
It occurred to me that companies really need to be looking at the social revolution for possibly one reason over everything else. Insights into human behavior that can lead to future innovations or even product/service improvements.
What I noticed while writing Beyond the Brand: Why Engaging the Right Customers is Essential to Winning in Business and focusing on anthro-journalism at Radar for so many years is that many people tend to stop at collecting the insight on the information ladder. As Einstein said: “Any fool can know, the point is to understand.”
Information has leveled the playing field; everyone now has access to the same data to drive insights in our digital world. The key is transforming insights into relevant innovation. Companies must actively develop bottom-up tools, digital ethnography being one, to understand and transform information into action.
To find meaning in what they learn about their customers, they must identify what keeps the community balanced: its center of gravity. By deeply understanding this center of gravity, any company can move more quickly in driving relevant innovation for their customers, and not spend time or energy going in the wrong direction.
The key is to truly listen to the stories that customers and non-customers alike are telling about their lives, their cultures and how they really feel about the company and its products. It is crucial to understand, on an intuitive level, what the community needs and wants.
In the end, pursuing a bottom-up strategy, by connecting with customers digitally, means seeking enough inspiration and input to find the magic to drive innovation. It means breaking out of categories, words, and definitions. It means focusing on developing a renewed sense of wonder. It means really getting to know your customers, and suppliers, as people. Whether you connect with them digitally or face to face.