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When a Business specialist meets an Academic researcher

Business people and academic researchers are often seen belonging to different worlds. When exaggerating one could say that a business specialist solves subjective problems of clients, whereas an academic researcher or scientist is hunting for objective truth.


In our Solita Research -community, we have seen that more crucial is the mindset than a name of the “hat”, which a person is officially wearing. Business units alone can not find all answers for extremely complex problems. Neither can scientific research lock itself in a cell separated from real life needs. An academic researcher is often thinking of concrete value creation and a business specialist wants to deep-dive into theoretical models. Although an old Finnish saying states that “the cobbler should stick to his last”, we all as individuals and communities are forced to expose ourselves to new fields of learning and co-operation.

Here are some findings along my own learning path when following up the 4APIs-project and various other co-operation projects where business and academic worlds meet. Maybe part of these are familiar at your work, too?

Hunger for results, humility for learning
Although we are supposed to present ourselves as proud professionals, our knowledge turns outdated very fast nowadays. Metamorphose of data into operational or strategic wisdom is not an automated technological process only. It happens after combining knowledge from different sources of information and insights from specialists. Learning from each others as individuals, as teams and as co-operation partners is a must. If you see only a jungle of competitors around instead of co-learning companions, there’s no corner for you on any platform or on any ecosystem map.

Talent of finding the right questions before answers
When starting a research project, it’s easy to formulate a hypothesis, but not so simple to find the right questions. In many cases the imperative of being fast has slipped from ICT-development projects into other circles, too. Instead of “failing fast” a dull sounding process thinking and a bit of patience can bring more effectively results with less hassle.

Share your expertise, be open to new ideas and listen to others
Quite often it’s surprisingly hard to form an insight, share and communicate it within the internal and external organization (a project team, a business unit, a faculty). Creating the common understanding among co-operation partners is usually not written in a project plan as a separate action point. It does not mean that everyone should think identically, but it serves as a basis and as a tool for sharing knowledge, creating trust and verifying various ideas.

Networks are seldom mentioned nowadays, but ecosystems and platforms pop up almost daily in media. In the future data experts may become backstage players, when a new generation of wisdom suppliers march into spotlight. Those who are used to co-operate today on no man’s land combining in open-minded way ideas and people, are the ones who are shaping tomorrow. Together.