New Product Development in the Age of IoT

If you’re responsible for new product development in your company, you will be familiar with the several steps of that process. Experts mostly separate the new product development process into seven or eight steps, starting with idea generation and finishing with a post launch review. The fact that more and more things become smart; i.e. they either feature some intelligence or they are connected and controlled through the IoT, has significant implications on new product development, particularly on its very first phases.

Traditionally, ideation and screening of first product ideas have focused on research, brainstorming, SWOT analysis, market and consumer trends, and so forth. All these activities imply certain hypotheses and more or less tangible perceptions of products or product components. This works fine, as long as the final product is a one-way product; i.e. once produced and sold it won’t change (other than to age and break, ultimately). However, smart things aren’t on-directional, but bi-directional: they communicate, they change, and therefore their effects on consumers are far more complex and variable than those of their „dumb“ predecessors.

The smarter a thing, or a group of things, is, the more complex the situations they will create for their environment and their users. The much discussed self-driving cars which algorithms must decide whom to run over in case of an inevitable accoident provide a good example of the complexity future products will create.

Now – what are the implications of smarr things and the IoT on new product development? The answer is pretty easy – we just have to look at the discussions regarding the IoT: privacy, responsibility, sustainability, awareness, acceptance, relevance, and ethics. Is my data secure? Who takes responsibility of data provenance? Do I want this thing to be smart? Do I accept a thing’s decision? Do things add value? Do others accept me using my smart thing? Can I defend using my smart thing against my beliefs?

We can sort these crtical questions into three categories:

  • – philosophy (ethical aspects),
  • – sociology (responsibility/acceptance aspects) and
  • – psychology (awareness/relevance aspects).

Philosophy, sociology and psychology are the „new“ fields for benchmarking new product ideas. As distinct from present techniques of finding new product ideas, corporate innovation managers will have to broaden their scopes and companies will have to adapt by hiring and training their innovation departments towards these fields of expertise. Today, only very few companies seem to have inherited this new way of thinking: just look at how Apple creates and markets its products: there is no talk of product features, but of sustainable production chains, of family accounts or enhanced well-being.

Would you have thought that philosophy, sociology and psychology would play a pivotal role in new product development? Could that mean that philosophers sleeping in ceramic jars now can afford posh apartements, or formerly unemployed sociologists can choose their employers, or psychologists leave their universities to actually develop new products? And – will we see a lot mote useful, meaningful, usable and accepted products? I think so.

Boost your wellbeing and happiness with the explore app program SMILE!

Too much workload, stress and ultimately the burnout – that’s how many people see their everyday life. One way to handle the negative aspects of daily routines is to make it to the weekend (TGIF), another is to go on vacation. Whereas the first tactic is easy to realize but only helpful to a certain degree, the latter is possible once or twice a year for most of us. But there is another, more easy way to calm down and to boost your wellbeing and happiness: create and repeat small positive experiences – and you will see an immediate effect on your overall awareness of life.

As Sonya Lyubomirsky and Kristin Layous show in their paper, based on research by Ed Diener and others, it’s the small and regularly repeated positive experiences which influence your wellbeing and happiness to a great extent. According to the Positive-Activity Model, features of positive activities, including their dosage, variety, sequence, and built-in social support, all influence their success in that process.

Positive-Activity Model

Positive-Activity Model

For our editorial team at Datarella, this model was a challenge: how could we use the explore app to get this model work in an optimal way? As always, the team decided not to head for the optimal – but for a good solution, to invite volunteers to participate  in a special program and ultimately to optimize the program together with the explore users. This program, SMILE!, should be designed very lean, with just a minimum number of interactions, and with an active participation for just a few days,  in order not to interfere with the model’s cause-and-effect relationships.

After the 5-day-program, our data team analyzed the results. In short: our findings completely back the findings of Ed Diener et al.:

  1. participants of the SMILE! program experienced a significant increase of their happiness with each additional day during the program
  2. participants of the SMILE! program experienced an increase of their happiness compared with a test group of non-participants whose happiness level remained constant
  3. small, regular and well-portioned challenges triggered a change of the participant’s behavior resulting in an increased happiness level

The two charts below demonstrate the SMILE! effect:

Hast Du heute viel gelacht?hast Du nach dem Programm mehr gelacht?

(For non-german speaking users: Translation Chart 1:  „Did you laugh a lot, today?“, Translation Chart 2:“Do you think that you laughed more often at the end of the program?“, Translation Feature Visual:“How do you feel at the moment?)

The Datarella team itself participated in SMILE!, too. For me personally, it was a great experience. Being an optimistic guy and smiling often, the SMILE! challenges opened my eyes: in reality I have been smiling much less than I had thought. And triggered by the SMILE! challenges I was forced to become much more friendly.

For Datarella, the SMILE! program was a first test. We are planning to roll out several programs of this kind, all of them aiming to boost personal wellbeing and happiness. Since our editorial team is still in the process of creating these programs we’d like to invite you to participate and add your ideas, proposals and thoughts! We’d love to hear from you!