User Experience

Connect with success by knowing your blind spots

Designing and delivering connected products and the transition to the Internet of Things (IoT) is today’s product development frontier.

While companies are identifying exciting opportunities and competitive threats, they also discover that their processes, operations and expertise don’t translate well in this new territory. To crack the code of driving innovation in a savvy and connected world, there are a few things that can increase your odds while you are ‘faking it till you make it’. Delivering connected products and services is a pretty different M.O. than most people’s day jobs. And the biggest threat to success? Your team’s blind spots.

Blind spot #1: The right team

When time is tight and stakes are high, projects begin moving very quickly while the team and project are still being defined. The project champions need to be aware of the critical implications of building the team. Of course, they will identify the marketing and business stakeholders and a few individual experts in hardware, software and/or services. They should also identify any high-level individuals that have macro responsibilities and think holistically across disciplines

The next step is to identify which experts are missing from your core team. Be honest with yourself when assessing where you are lacking expertise. Don’t fool yourself by assigning champions who simply have a high level of passion or interest outside of their assigned discipline. It's the depth of expertise that you need. It’s okay to have lots of experts on the team, but if you choose to include fewer people that represent multiple disciplines be sure they are actually experts and not generalists. Especially early on, you need the experts to help you identify the things that aren’t even on your radar. Go find your missing experts and get them on board, even for a small engagement. Do it as early on in the process as possible.

The expertise your team will likely need to deliver connected solutions:

  • Physical / Hardware (industrial design, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering)
  • Digital / Software (interaction design, software development, information architecture, content strategy)
  • Service (service design, customer service)

Blind spot #2: Chasing the right target

Once you have the right team, you need to make sure that you have collectively set the business goals, project requirements, user needs and product requirements. Together, these will define success and guide the design efforts of a seamless user experience between objects, information and behaviors. Begin by making sure the team collectively understands what is in bounds and out of bounds. Then use your stakeholders and experts to ask the tough questions that help you identify what is missing, unknowns, risks, and leap of faith assumptions. It’s okay (in fact, it’s good) to have lots of unknowns and questions. Those are critical areas that will clarify your goals, inform your process, and ultimately set you up for the success of your project. It is too easy to work on the wrong things early on or silo expectations that are unknowingly at odds with one another.

At this point, you have the right team in place and the experts and stakeholders are having critical conversations to build awareness and empathy among the team and identify gaps. It’s okay if the team isn’t fully integrated and highly functional yet. The critical conversations will begin connecting the disciplines and building the foundation for a high functioning team in the near future. Most importantly, this newly formed team will begin making progress that will save time and money on the back end.

It’s good to have lots of questions. They're critical areas that will clarify your goals, inform your process, and ultimately set you up for success.

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