Checking job postings important for Project ROI.

This past week I was hired by a client to research a product idea that they had.

The client had done their own research and found out that the product did not exist today in the form they presented. They had even found a similar product targeted towards a different set of customers. Given that, they felt strongly there was an opening in the market for their product targeted against the customers they had identified.

Once I was hired, I gained an understanding of what the benefits of their new product was and who the likely customers were. I asked them to establish why they felt the opportunity was there – what made them unique.

Taking the knowledge provided by the client I then did research of my own.

1 – I confirmed that indeed there was potential for their product.

2 – I identified that indeed the product did not exist in the current form that the client was wanting to create.

3 – I crunched the numbers of the expected product cost against potential.

4 – I researched other companies that provided the same proposed solution but in a different market.

All looked strong for my client’s desire however I found a fly in the ointment.

Taking the list of companies in the different market who dealt with the same potential clients as my customer but without the product that my customer was planning to create, I did a job vacancy search.

Luckily for my client, the competition did not consider it a strategic risk to post their employment needs along with their company name. In fact with the strongest possible competitor, that company was advertising exactly for the skill set that my client would need to create their proposed product. In the company’s job advert, they went to great length to explain the direction the company was moving in and how it was a great opportunity to come on board and build the product.

A little bit of research saved my client from putting money into a product that another stronger competitor was getting ready to build.

I cannot say this will work every time because if the job openings had been filled at the competitor I would not have stumbled across the  job vacancies that described the direction of the company. As a back up solution, you can check the patent registry to see if any competitors have filed patents closely related to the product you plan to build.

ui – Tactile feedback – Why BA’s need to consider cost of failure without it.

In this article I want to ask Business Analysts to consider risk cost calculations when it comes to UI that reduces or removes Tactile Feedback from a user interface.

I like to share examples of User Interfaces that seemed good in the lab but not in reality.

In the book  Yeager by General Chuck Yeager / Leo Janos,  the pilot Chuck Yeager makes reference to the one time the F16 airplane had a “Fixed Force” sidearm control. Basically a control stick that did not move but relied on the amount of force the user applied to it to determine what the controls would do.

It was not a success as the lack of tactile feedback made it difficult for the user to know how much force they were applying. In his case, they replaced the fixed with a moveable stick that could move about an inch in two directions.

Even then, moving of a stick by itself may not be enough as witnessed by the crash Air France Flight 447 on June 1st 2009. The article link below explains how lack of Tactile feedback may have led to the crash of the flight. In the article it is suggested that since the co pilot could not see or feel what the other pilot was doing (they were using a sidearm control) he was unable in time to rectify the situation.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/9231855/Air-France-Flight-447-Damn-it-were-going-to-crash.html

With the advent of more touch screens devices, we are bringing the lack of tactile feedback to the masses. Certainly we can feel a swipe of the screen but when it comes to pressing something, we have no clue by our touch that the event took place. Even with the swipe, it is possible that the screen was dirty and thus did not register our swipe. In not all cases will it be possible to follow our hand / finger movements with a glance by our eyes thus making the Tactile feedback more critical in those situations. We could add sound to each contact but then that can lead to over abundance of sounds which in themselves become a distraction from the task. Military pilots in various recent wars have complained about having cockpits full of various informational sounds all at one time that if they can turn them off they do. This act of silencing the sounds nullifying the benefit the sound was meant to serve.

While we can see the advantage of the flexibility of the touch screen in that we can change the controls displayed to match the task at hand, the risk of the task needs to be considered. As Business Analysts helping business introduce new technology, we must make sure that the risk of limited or no tactile feedback is calculated against the cost if something goes wrong. This information will help fund the UI/UX department in their quest for the best/affordable UI interface for the situation.

 

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