GEA HomeConnect is a IoT business innovation project based on a prompt given by GE Appliances to expand its services across multi-dwelling family units (MDUs'). Three-person team were created, and roles, responsibilities were assigned mimicking today’s work environment. We conducted research in one of the MDU segment, i.e., Apartment housing, ideated solutions and pitched our solution to the client.
Duration 8 Weeks
Team Members Divyansh Singh, Aditya Vallat
Client GE Appliances
My Role in the Design Process
Responsibilities As a Product Manager, I understood overall market and landscape, ideating solutions, business assessment and selecting design strategy As a Operation Manager, I identified key partners, key resources and key activities for the concept selected As a Design Manager, I refined value proportions for our customer segment, information architecture and built High fidelity screens to pitch our new business enabler
Design a new connected product and service-based business enabler for GE Appliances by leveraging the opportunities in 'Apartment Housing' Multi-family Dwelling Unit.
National Apartment Association predictions by 2030,
4.6 Million new apartments are needed to be built
11.7 million older existing apartments could need renovation
Idea >> SmartBridge
Market Research Insights
To understand the current trends, we researched into one public traded company called Mid-America Apartments. From the 10K report, we found that the property managers 1. Concerned about effective governance. 2. Strategize to locate their apartments in well-positioned areas of technology. 3. Include redevelopment program that is fruitful for business in next couple of years. 4. Go beyond in sustainability ie., energy and water conservation.
Technology Research Insights
We researched on current IoT technologies that is deployed across different industry verticals and in other MDU customer segments e.g, senior independent living community. 1. Connected room, Hotel of Things & Hospitality 2. Remote diagnosis through Augmented Reality 3. RFID tracking in food & beverage industry 4. Predictive analysis of production lines 5. Business Intelligence in mission-critical defense systems. 6. Industrial IoT 4.0, Edge and Fog Computing in data tracking.
User Research Insights
We recruited 5 Class A apartment property mangers around Indianapolis and 10 Tenants across United States to gather insights on current products and practices in day to day activities. From our research, we gathered information and grouped them using affinity diagram.
Affinity Diagramming - Insights from the Customer (Property Managers)
From our insights we built a fictional character 'Sara Stone' and mapped with the major characteristics and goals of property managers that aligns with our research.
We build our customer's profile emphasizing on pains and gains of our property manager 'Sara Stone'
Identified Opportunities for GE Appliances
Property Managers, 1. Need help in managing maintenance requests 2. Looks for better ways to communicate to their tenants 3. Seeks return on investment 4. Wants to provide convenient services to their tenants
Based on the opportunities identified, we came up with three potential design directions for GEA's new business enablers.
Concept 1 Using existing GE products and services to bridge the gap between property owners and tenants. We leveraged, GE Appliances's Kitchen Hub to act as a communication channel.
Concept 2 Using existing GE ‘NewFi’ bluetooth module to the apartment maintenance team to ensure faster and reliable fixes for the appliance repairs. (Maintenance as a Service)
Concept 3 Moving from Repair (Preventive Maintenance) and Fix TO Predict and Fix (Predictive Maintenance) for HVAC systems in apartments.
We combined concept 1 and 2 based on the primary needs of our customer and as well as the value proposition that the new business enabler offers to GE Appliances.
We crafted press release and marketing flyer for our IoT based product-service and gave it to our customers for capturing insights on what they think about this innovation.
"The smart bridge is a great idea. We would like to see if we can do a pilot test by installing it in a few of our apartments.” - Jacqueline StoryAssistant property manager (VUE apartments)
“I like the notion of integration with the property management side. We’re always interested in testing new products” - Brandon (Flaherty & Collins)
Prototype & Refine
We then, designed screens that indicates the core features of our idea and pitched to our clients.
Kitchen Hub New Features
Property Management Dashboard Features
GEA HomeConnect is a real-world IoT business innovation design sponsored by GE Appliances. I am thankful to our Professor. Lou Lenzi for giving an opportunity to interact with clients and design a product-service business enabler and for constant critiques focused on tuning our skills towards product innovation and impactful pitching. Heartfelt thanks to our clients who helped us refine our understanding of existing GE Appliance products and services and appreciation on our innovation. This project taught me to design a product & service from business, marketing standpoint along with constraints in a short-period of time.
For more research analysis and down selection process, feel free to drop me a message and have a fascinating discussion.