Businesses today recognize data as the lifeblood of business decision making and growth. We see this as business units across enterprises rely on and leverage all types of data daily, and for nearly every aspect of business productivity. But the role of data in new product development and creating a user experience (UX) that customers truly desire isn’t as cut and dry as data metrics.
The prospect of wading through massive amounts of data about what’s desirable and what’s worthy of being built – meaning it doesn’t yet exist – can cause any leader to question the reliability of data and how best to leverage it.
Further, our current state of data overload only heightens this concern. Consider that in 2009 Harvard Business Review published the article Death by Information Overload. The cause of our overload? Email, RSS feeds and websites.
Fast forward to today as IoT platforms, cloud computing and storage capacity, and artificial intelligence (AI) enable us to consume more data than ever before. We are now in an age where 90 percent of the world’s data has been created in the last two years alone, and it is estimated that 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created every day – and growing.
This makes knowing how to access the right data essential, especially when investing in IoT solutions and user interfaces.
Here are three important considerations – all rooted in the data – and how it can drive the success or failure of your digital solutions.
Know the specific desires of your stakeholders
There is a difference between what customers want, generally speaking, and what your stakeholders desire specifically.
Data can tell you all kinds of things, including the wrong things. This is why understanding your specific stakeholders is critical. It will focus your team on creating products and experiences your customers genuinely want, the outcomes that are most desired, and the channels in which you’ll engage them.
Chances are you have strong assumptions about what your customers want. Now you need to do the discovery (extracting insights that become actionable data) to validate those assumptions or adjust accordingly. In doing so, you will gain clarity on the problem you are trying to solve, and give guidance to the essential features needed to address user needs.
To be clear – customers and buyers of your offerings are stakeholders, but so are other audiences. Your design and UX team are stakeholders. Outside partners helping you build or service the solution are stakeholders. Anyone within the company that needs access to this data is a stakeholder. The number of stakeholders for any solution can be large or small, broad or narrow. Regardless of scope, you will need an understanding of all audiences as there will be moments when you need to focus your attention by engaging specific stakeholders to move your solution forward effectively.
Know your data ecosystem
Before any design or development of a solution begins, you need clear parameters or guardrails. This aligns the team on what can and cannot be accomplished inside the data ecosystem.
For example, you need data points that are not ambiguous but reliable and accurate, points that can be recorded, and knowledge of where those recorded points ultimately go. Further, you’ll need to determine who is going to receive the information, and through what channels. And they must all be actionable within the data ecosystem.
This brings us back to weighing the effort against three core tenets of desirability, technical feasibility, and business viability when thinking about building any kind of user experience and IoT solution.
Adhering to clear parameters in your data ecosystem will narrow the scope of your effort, which is to your advantage and helps move faster to your minimum viable product (MVP). Conversely, if your team gets excited about and pursues possible solutions where data channels are not available, you’ve wasted time, effort, and money.
Overcoming digital overload: the two pieces of data businesses need.
Know how to say “No”
When design efforts begin showing progress, potential, and promise, people naturally get excited. It’s also where the door of “what if” gets opened.
- What if we added this feature?
- Wouldn’t it be cool if…
- We should include…
- Some users might want to know…
What appears to be small enhancements can add significant amounts of complexity to the project. It can add more confusion to developing the MVP than what was agreed upon. And it can add more time, which also requires more budget.
This loss of focus goes against the grain of the discovery work and gathering insights and data to get to this point. The data ecosystem is in place to provide clear guardrails on what can be accomplished within the defined ecosystem, project scope, and budget.
Although well intended, many recommendations apply to smaller and smaller sets of users within the whole. The goal is to focus on the 20% of the features that will get us 80% of use by critical users.
So lean on your data. It will make saying “no” a lot easier.
How do you know if you are ready?
With relentless pressure to innovate and compete, the desire to move forward can be great. But the question every organization needs to ask is: Are we ready?
Building an IoT solution and a better user experience based on specific stakeholder data isn’t a one-off project. It requires:
- Dedicated resources and support
- An all-in commitment to change, even when change is hard
- Adopting a new way of strategically growing your business and adapting to technologies, and emerging trends that will shape your industry
If your company can get behind these requirements, you are ready.
And when you strategically leverage your data – that lifeblood of your business – for the sake of delivering an IoT solution and desired user experience, you can be assured it will be worth it now and well into the future as you build upon the data.