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Human-centered insights and ethnography to identify unmet needs, recommend practices that work, and create products and services that sell

Read the new white paper
The Camera Doesn’t Lie: Rapid Observation to Create Better Customer Experiences

Breakthroughs may be born in the lab or boardroom, but they live or die in the marketplace – where people determine their real-world value through actual use. That's why PARC’s approach to innovation places as much importance on people as it does on technology.

Our social scientists bring human-centered insights to projects spanning a variety of disciplines and application spaces, breaking down the silos that commonly separate research, engineering, social science, design, and business strategy. We do this to help deepen understanding of the customers and users who will determine your success in the market.

PARC pioneered ethnography – the naturalistic study of human behavior in context – into the realm of technology innovation. The ethnography approach combines systematic data capture and rigorous analysis to uncover and reveal a detailed, nuanced, and complete picture of what people actually do – as opposed to just what they say they do.

PARC is therefore uniquely suited to consult with our clients to identify unmet needs in various industries (such as Internet Commerce, Financial Services, Healthcare, Transportation and Logistics, and many more), recommend innovation practices that work, and help create products and services that sell.




Market Opportunity Discovery

A deep understanding of human perception and behavior in practice is essential to profitable innovation. PARC draws on human factors insights to help you identify unmet needs and create offerings in new and existing markets. We combine the capabilities of an R&D lab, a usability research firm, a design agency, and consumer behavior experts. With such cross-disciplinary perspectives focused simultaneously on your objectives, you can discover and validate concepts faster, gain early market advantage, or leapfrog your competitors.

Experience Design & Evaluation

Companies today aren't just selling products and services: they're selling experiences. PARC provides human factors insights – and concrete recommendations – that help ensure your product and service innovations will be well-received in the marketplace. Our multidisciplinary project team provides unique perspectives on the ideation, testing, analysis, and refinement of offerings. The result is human-centered products and services more likely to win raves from customers, users, partners, and investors.

Innovation Practice Transformation

The ultimate path to maximizing your innovation potential may not be a new product or service, but through new internal process and models. PARC works across your internal silos to help you uncover how your organization really innovates and selects what projects to work on. Because ultimately, these business processes are human-centered processes. We draw on a deep understanding of human behavior, organizational culture, and technology to help implement innovation practices that work. Working with PARC effects the kind of change that helps accelerate time from ideation to implementation, and aligns innovation outcomes with business impact.

Innovation Training

While you might think the innovation process at PARC is mainly driven by creativity and ideas, it’s really the subsequent hard work of exploring, incubating, developing, and commercializing those ideas that makes or breaks an innovation. PARC Innovation Training curriculum is based on what we've learned from over 40 years of successful and repeatable innovation. We will wil share with you our "secret sauce" to help your organization innovate more effectively. 

PARC Innovation Training is customized to your individual company and core goals. Our curriculum includes modules on the business of open innovation, including asset allocation, risk management, and the portfolio approach; innovation measurement and metrics; ethnography methods and insight; ideation approaches and processes; innovation frameworks; and R&D commercialization strategies.

It is designed to release your creativity, stimulate your strategic thinking, and above all be engaging and thought provoking. We use classroom, large-group discussions, fieldwork, ideation sessions (with separate workgroups), and small-group and large-group debriefing sessions. All training sessions will be scheduled on-site at your company or preferred venue.

Ethnography Training and Certification

PARC's comprehensive ethnography training curriculum provides your team or company with the skills needed to engage with or conduct ethnographic research so you can gain deep insights into your customers' needs. We work directly with your organization to identify the right type of certification based on current skill sets and goals after the training.  All training sessions will be scheduled on-site at your company or preferred venue.

Certification from PARC gives you the confidence that you are deploying the social science skillsets that have been an essential ingredient of PARC's innovation success.

PARC Ethnography Training and Certification is delivered via a mix of classroom work, field exercises, and presentation practice. Multi-stage training can be customized to fit with your enterprise requirements.

The five levels we currently offer are:

    1. Awareness.  Trainees learn to recognize an opportunity for ethnography’s value within an organization.
    2. Opportunity Identification. Trainees learn to identify where to position ethnography as part of a bigger solution.
    3. Apprenticeship Certification. Trainees learn a subset of ethnographic methods, specifically observation, data collection, and processing methods.  Trainees also acquire awareness of the end-to-end methodology so they can make guided contributions in an ethnography project team especially for analysis and reporting.
    4. Standard Certification as a Certified Ethnography/Work Practice Analyst.  Trainees will be able to effectively use ethnography methods independently and can contribute to an ethnography project team at any point.
    5. Expert Certification as a Certified Ethnography/Work Practice Project Manager or a Certified Ethnography/Work Practice Trainer. Those certified will be able to design and lead an Ethnography/Work Practice study effort or train others in Ethnography/Work Practice.

videos - PARC social scientists share some experiences

on market opportunity discovery


on mobile interface design



Aki Ohashi
Business Development - Japan
+1 650 812 4349

Raj Minhas
Director, Innovation Services







blog posts   view all 

PARC Innovation Lab: A Blueprint for Innovation Leadership
posted 10 June 2014

Editor’s Note:  PARC recently announced the next “PARC Innovation Lab: A Blueprint for Innovation Leadership,” taking place September 16-17, 2014 here at PARC

A Pattern for User Experience Design in Predictive Analytics
posted 4 June 2014

Editor’s Note:  The following is an excerpt from Mike Kuniavsky‘s full article, “A pattern for user experience design in predictive analytics,” now available on The Connective 2.0 presented by WIRED. One of the most challenging aspects of designing the user experience of predictive analytics is communicating with users what a predictive system is planning to do next, or why it just did what it did

Ethnography Discovery: Overcoming the Electronic Medical Records vs Paper Records Conundrum
posted 27 May 2014

Feather River Tribal Health, Inc



awards    view all 

2013 SIGCHI Awards - CHI Academy