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The potential benefits of user-centric design in IoT

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected several aspects of everyday life. More specifically, an increased number of employees are working from home and the distribution of essential goods has become crucial than ever as organizations worldwide face a new reality: one that accelerates the need to digitally transform. But I’ll suggest that surviving this fast-changing landscape doesn’t just require a digital mindset. It takes something a little more human.

When IT professionals look at how IoT came to be, they might think that IoT was made to help solve human challenges, make work easier and help free up time from busy work so they can concentrate efforts where it really matters. Yet so often IT pros see implementation being driven by the technology itself rather than what users need. This typically results in random acts of digital and getting stuck in pilot purgatory.

However, it doesn’t have to be this way. When it comes to the future of IoT, user-centric design can be the difference between random acts of digital and the systemic shift needed to truly transform.

Creating the ideal user experience for factory workers with user centric IoT design

With IoT and smart factory technologies, IT pros are able to provide factory workers and operational employees a whole new way to interact with machinery. Most of them might be familiar with simple interfaces and manual data tracking where front and back lines don’t connect.

This presents a huge opportunity for IT pros to not only create a new, connected experience for them but to also understand how various users experience these touchpoints differently. For example, a line worker might use the technology to maintain factory assets and manage throughput to keep the plant running efficiently.

A plant manager can use dashboards to proactively manage constraints across the factory and respond to issues before they arise. These capabilities are all important to building a more successful, more connected experience that works for everyone.

User-centered design allows IT pros to individually tailor the experience. For example, when working with a manufacturing client it’s important for designers and engineers to understand the factory process, what each worker’s role is and what pain points they’re facing. With that understanding, the team can better design the technology around each user.

The IoT design process then becomes an iterative design procedure: Test, then see how users interact with the technology. Do they know where to click? Do they get stuck somewhere along the flow? Once this process is completed, IT pros can adjust the design to make sure that they’re not losing each use.

In fact, it’s very similar to the idea of an abandoned shopping cart in retail. You wouldn’t just let people continue to fall off, right? That’s not good business. The same goes for the enterprise. IT pros must know if they’re losing people; and if so, where are they going? Then IT pros can determine what other adjustments to make.

This approach can also go a long way towards designing more successful training and entirely new technologies. No matter where IT pros are — at home or at work — people expect their experience to be good and for the technology to serve its purpose. Connected consumer devices continue to push this expectation even higher. Think of all the smart home electronics and appliances that are out there now that are built to be intuitive and effortless — enterprise IoT needs to do the same.

Final thoughts

IT pros can’t disenfranchise factory workers because they’re not familiar with a new technology. Instead, they need to provide them a seat at the table, include them in the development process and design the technology to suit their needs.

This is where representation and accessibility come into play, and that may require some change management. But the investment can pay off in spades through faster adoption, lowered risk and ultimately a more effective, more efficient transformation.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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