Indoor Asset Tracking solutions can take on many forms, depending heavily on the particularities of each use case. You probably have some idea of what you’re tracking and why that might be important, but it's even more important to be thorough and exhaustive in conducting preliminary market research before involving an engineering team. In this blog post, we will introduce some key considerations that should be well-defined before attempting to build your tracking solution.
There are two types of questions that help flesh out early stage product development. These questions will help guide user expectations without overpromising. They'll ensure that product requirements are both reasonable and feasible.
We recommend using a human-centered design approach when conducting early market research and performing user interviews. Although explicit asks like “built-in sensors” or “small form factor” may seem straightforward, the nuance is usually hidden beneath the details.
For example, Life Alert is an asset tracking product and emergency notification system for the elderly living at home. Accessibility and ease of use are critical design features. By contrast, tracking large containers in a warehouse may instead require frequent reporting of relative location to improve supply chain management.
Although interviewing is a good tool to scope out product requirements, conversations can quickly be derailed by asks that are technologically infeasible or physically impossible. A customer may specify the use of GPS underground, or WiFi/Bluetooth underwater, not realizing that the product simply would not work under those circumstances due to signal attenuation. The uninitiated often get swept away by the marketing buzz around certain tracking technologies without fully understanding how that technology fits into a complex, interlocking landscape of tracking technologies in which each tracking technology has pros and cons and the best solution often arises from unique combinations of several technologies rather than attempting to choose one over all others.
The purpose of asking questions is to establish a baseline for who is using the product, how the product is being used, and what the product needs to do.
Well-defined success criteria are critical to product management both externally with customers and internally as development progresses. These are often presented as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)—a set of well-defined terms with associated quantities and units (e.g. device weight in kg) as well as numerical “acceptance criteria” (e.g. must weigh less than 1.5 kg). KPIs should be mutually intelligible by both business development and engineering teams because they provide both the ability to align customer needs with internal metrics for progress and success.
Important KPIs for indoor asset tracking:
ROI is typically the first and last factor in determining whether a product is worth developing. Because indoor asset tracking depends on custom hardware and software, the cost of R&D can quickly stack up. Cost factors can range from UI work (web/mobile) to optimizing data flow and battery consumption at the device firmware level.
In addition to R&D costs, there are recurring Operational Expenditures (OpEx) associated with continued customer support and data management in the cloud. These must be properly accounted for as the computational resources to handle large volumes of data can become fairly expensive at scale.
Ultimately, location data provides tremendous added value in many use cases. It's often worth the cost. This is especially self-evident for living “assets” such as employees or family members or pets, but it's also true of expensive assets like medical devices or vehicles that may easily be misplaced or mismanaged. To estimate the ROI of an indoor tracking solution, five questions must be answered.
In summary, market research for indoor asset tracking requires careful consideration of many different factors in order to set the foundation for a successful product. The results of this research should be formally compiled and used as a reference document for external customer work and internal R&D.
What type of use case are you building for? Whichever it is we are looking forward to learning more about your needs.
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