(Never) too many cooks: Getting to know all your users

The many culinary journeys that shaped one company’s path towards creating valuable services.
From the huge amount of connected products and devices already flooding the market, it’s clear that technology is no longer the challenge. If you take a look at the headlines, which are constantly questioning “Has IoT finally gone mainstream?” and “When will IoT go mainstream?”, it’s obvious where the real challenge lies: getting users to pay attention.   

Innovation today needs to stem far beyond the technology, because there’s only a handful of people who are actually interested in the latest and greatest gadgets. For companies to really make an impact in the IoT space, they need to be innovative in the ways that they connect with all users, not just one kind of person.

In our recent research, working on a project for BSH related to people’s cooking experiences, we discovered that not only are there various user groups, but many of the users will switch between groups throughout their lifetime. Therefore, for companies to stay relevant, they not only need to identify user groups and behaviors, but also adapt to their ever-changing habits.  

The who, the what and the how

The research we conducted with BSH provides a good example of how extensive research needs to be for an organization to really get to know their users, as well as understand which changes need to occur within their own company to support the innovation process. Here’s how it played out.

First we conducted research to identify the key user groups: Beginners, Family Cooks, Gourmet Cooks, and Health and Wellness Conscious Cooks. Through the use of cultural probes, interviews, observations and quotes, we mapped various cooking journeys for these different groups. Then, team members came together for workshops dedicated to examining these journeys and brainstorming possible ways to enhance or improve the user's experience. When collecting ideas, they realized that it wasn’t enough to simply have an idea, the idea needed to translate into an overall service. If not, the focus would shift back to only the technology or a single user.

It didn’t stop there… Users were invited back to provide feedback and recommendations on the journeys, scenarios and ideas. From this, the services and possibilities became very clearly defined. BSH found new ways to go beyond technical support and instead be a source of inspiration, information and a community builder. They developed the foundation for a more holistic portfolio of products and services, which would enable them to provide ongoing support for a user throughout their lifetime. 

Lessons learned

The process of coming together to brainstorm and problem solve provided gains for the company beyond product and service development. It became evident that in order to push these innovations forward, different departments would need to engage in more intensive forms of collaboration and new teams would need to be formed.

Throughout the ideation workshop, conversations were sparked, ideas were pollinated and new potentials were realized now that teams were in a new creative environment – sharing insights outside the usual meeting structures.

As BSH was involved throughout the whole user research process, they now have the tools and easy to follow exercises needed to implement ongoing research into their organization. They can be assured that the next services they create will grab the user’s attention even more, helping to bring IoT into a new era of relevance.