By: Anurag Bhatnagar
We spend an enormous amount of time finding solutions for transformative business challenges. Solutions become more complex as larger transformations are initiated. It is generally assumed — buy a product, and the solution will come automatically with it. This is not the case most of the time. This is where a Savvy Solution Design comes into play.
First off. Let us define Solution Design. The definition I have liked the most— “ It is a Non-linear, iterative process that teams use to understand users, challenge assumptions, redefine the problem and create innovative solutions to prototype and test”*.
In this article, we explore the basic traits of an elegant Solution design. The focus will be on IoT solutions and not product design. Solution Design is an iterative process, where the end product is a conjugation of hardware, software and services, addressing the business need. Let me bring my perspective on what a great solution is. Here are the 5 traits of an elegant solution.
Solves your Problem – Journey to a great solution starts with a clear definition of the problem. A good IoT solution will focus on the core business needs and tell you how to solve them. In the process of solving the problem, it helps you understand the variables in your business needs better. Identification of Variables is needed to understand the Return on Investment.
It is Simple – A good solution is simple. Albert Einstein was right when he said — “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” In a corporate context, if you cannot make your management understand the solution in 6 minutes, it is probably too complex. Management needs to take fast decisions. Simplicity helps.
Focus on the End Goal, not Technology – A good solution design uses technology to fit a solution and not the other way round. While designing IoT Solutions, there are several technology options available, a solution decides technology based on business needs. Starting with a preconceived technology restricts the design. Let us take a simple case of Asset tracking in a large warehouse. Technology can track each item at its position in real-time. Your business objectives may not need you to track them at a location in real-time. You may need them to be only tracked when they enter or leave the warehouse. There are technologies for both cases. The end business goal defines which one to use.
Serviceable – The organisations will probably derive benefits from the designed IoT solution for years. Therefore, it is essential that the solution is Serviceable, low maintenance and does not require a large team to manage it. It can be frustrating to have a technology solution that requires to be serviced every few weeks/months. Wrongly implemented solutions have caused more pain than one can imagine. Not to mention wastage of resources and efforts and a setback in transformation efforts.
Scalable – Finally a good solution is scalable. More often than not, the solution implemented in part of the process or organisations can be reusable for other use cases. A good IoT solution is scalable in multiple parts of the organisation and process stream. Our experience has been that once a solution is successfully implemented in one part of the organisation the other parts of the organisation also gain confidence and are eager to implement the solution.
In conclusion, it pays to engage specialised solution design experts and spend enough time defining the needs and features required. It is advisable to do a small Proof of concept (POC) to understand the benefits in the real-life case and then follow it up with a large scale rollout. Finally assess the applicability of the designed solution to other parts of the organization and plan modifications for implementation.
* Teo Yu Siang and Innovative Design Foundation https://canvas.unl.edu/courses/73802/pages/5-stages-of-design-thinking?module_item_id=1968000