Enhancing an IoT and Cloud Platform With User-Centric Design
GenUI is a digital product and tech commercialization firm. We build innovative solutions that accelerate technology roadmaps and deliver real impact for clients and their customers.
Updated Jun 30, 2018
At A Glance
Buddy Platform Ltd, a leader in IoT and cloud-based technology, engaged GenUI to redesign the look and feel of Buddy Ohm, its IOT system serving commercial real estate property owners and managers by measuring the environmental footprint of buildings. Through user experience (UX) research, agile methodologies, and user testing, GenUI overhauled the design of the Buddy Ohm software application and built a product that more effectively meets the needs of Buddy’s customers.
The Product Management Challenge
In 2018, Buddy’s product leadership team recognized a misalignment between their product’s offerings and the needs of their users. Buddy Ohm’s building monitoring devices effectively collected data, measuring the environmental footprint and patterns of energy consumption of commercial real estate buildings. However, Buddy Ohm’s users, primarily owners and managers of these commercial real estate properties, were not making full use of this data.
Buddy’s metrics on real estate property conveyed information around sustainability and energy efficiency. While this conveyed a feel-good message around the virtues of going green, this did not motivate the majority of Buddy Ohm’s users to make a behavioral change. These users required a solid proof of cost savings and information around compliance with mandatory reporting requirements.
Establishing The Partnership
Buddy has an internal team of talented developers, but didn’t have a group with prior experience solving for this particular design challenge. The company’s leadership recognized they would benefit from a development partner with deep experience in software product design. Buddy engaged GenUI because of GenUI’s emphasis on understanding users and its collaborative approach to working with clients.
“I need to build a trusted relationship before I hire a company. Nobody comes in understanding my business, so if someone says they know exactly what I need and have the solution to my problem, my shield is up. GenUI approached our problem with high skills combined with humility for the journey ahead, which resonated with me.”
Charles Eliot, VP of Product, Buddy
“We were immediately drawn to Buddy as a client because of the opportunity to work with emerging IoT and cloud-based technology and to serve a higher purpose of environmental sustainability.”
Jason Thane, CEO, GenUI
To address the unique needs around making IoT and cloud data meaningful and actionable to Buddy Ohm’s users, GenUI deployed a small team of GenUI's experts — in this case UX specialists — who employ best-in-class practices proven to be effective at solving tough software challenges.
Researching User Behavior and Identifying Goals
GenUI’s goal was to create a deep understanding of the potential needs, and pinpoint areas where big wins were possible across the board. To uncover these potential needs, GenUI’s UX specialists facilitated interviews with current Buddy Ohm users and Buddy’s stakeholders, including subject matter experts from sales, marketing, design, and development. The questions were specifically targeted toward the interests of each participant.
“We enter each project by bringing questions, not assumptions. We used questions to uncover the truth about what users want from the product and what that product delivers today.”
Jeni Mattson, Chief of Product and UX, GenUI
This research produced a robust data set for evaluation, including Buddy Ohm’s mission and brand promises, competitor features, user goals and a priority ranking of preferences based on each user’s experience.
Bringing Focus To The Product
GenUI identified two distinct user sets with two different sets of goals and behaviors. First was the standard users: those unfamiliar with the data who needed rudimentary visualization. Next was the power users: data scientists much more immersed in the data with more sophisticated requirements.
The research process uncovered another distinguishing variable: user motivations. Many users initially installed their monitoring systems due to the environmental and sustainability benefits. However, as these users began to use the platform, another motivation would arise: cost savings.
GenUI analyzed these findings and built a matrix that codified how to bridge the gap from current state to ultimate design. This framework placed user goals and behaviors as the foundation of the solution. GenUI shared this framework with Buddy Ohm’s product stakeholders, which included software developers, marketers, and business teams. The entire Buddy Ohm team was enthusiastic in their response to GenUI’s user-centric approach.
“GenUI’s input was fantastic. Design is always a dialogue. It’s a dialogue that involves the people who are going to use the systems and the people who build them. The best evidence of trust is the ability to have a good conversation.”
Charles Eliot, VP of Product, Buddy
Developing The Product Through Collaboration
GenUI’s framework inspired one of Buddy’s internal developers to experiment with the visual ideas in the product. He took an existing element that was buried within the UI, and reprioritized it in the design hierarchy, based on the user-centric recommendations in GenUI’s framework.
This change was a quick win for Buddy Ohm, and it helped Buddy recognize that they wanted to further build upon GenUI’s proposed framework.
With consensus around the product vision and momentum on their side, the groups worked together to iterate on the product using agile development methodologies. GenUI prioritized backend requirements and conducted user testing throughout development to ensure the changes aligned with user needs.
Sustaining The Product With an Effective Team
In collaborating closely with GenUI, Buddy’s internal developers learned the proven methodologies to apply user-centered UX design to developing products. GenUI helped identify the vision for the product, and established best practices for performing the research to identify user needs as the product evolves.
“On the deepest emotional level it is ultimately about creating the team to solve the problem and that has worked out very, very well,”