The Internet is challenging the very way companies think about their product design. In the rush to bring the Internet of Things (IoT) to, well… everything, companies are discovering that being connected for the sake of being part of IoT isn’t enough. Savvy consumers are looking for products that are functional and make their lives easier in addition to the convenience of connectivity.
For example, Whirlpool recently launched a line of smart appliances, only to discover consumers saw little value in what was being offered. The Washington Post reports:
“We’re a little bit of a hammer looking for a nail right now," Chris Quatrochi, Whirlpool's global director of user experience and connectivity, said last week at a conference hosted by tech blog Gigaom. The buyers of web-connected washers, more than a year after launch, are still “not at all widespread," he said. "Trying to understand exactly the value proposition that you provide to the consumer has been a little bit of a challenge."
IBM, by sharp contrast, is recalibrating its product development and centering it around consumers, hoping that by lining up products with the self-identified needs consumers request, they can begin turning around their profits. According to the New York Times, IBM’s general manager of design, Phil Gilbert, is leading a new initiative called “design thinking.” They note, “Among other things, design thinking flips traditional technology product development on its head. The old way is that you come up with a new product idea and then try to sell it to customers. In the design thinking way, the idea is to identify users’ needs as a starting point."
This consumer-oriented approach is something we at Sinu have adopted for over 15 years. We understood long ago that providing more technology just for the sake of it would do little to improve the lives or save time for the people we serve, and it could add unnecessary cost to our “all-in-one” solution.
“Over the years, we have built our customer support infrastructure in response to what our customers need,” explains Sinu co-founder and COO, John Christie. “We provide proven tools with unlimited support to increase employee satisfaction and efficiency. Then, we take it a step further by monitoring all the systems and prevent problems before they occur.”
The result, Sinu consistently beats its competitors in national industry averages for customer satisfaction.
Now as for Whirlpool trying to hit the mark with its products, the company’s global director of user experience and connectivity said: "If I could actually [build] a connected solution that folded the clothes, we could all retire."