Posted by: bbannan | April 5, 2011

Competitive Research – Joel

As I reflect on the topic of competitive research, I realize that Group 1 didn’t really do any yet.  We were so concerned about designing our prototype as a possible solution to our problem. We didn’t really research it to see if our prototype already exists or something like it is already out there.   In order for us to consider beginning to research any potential competitors, our group really needs to sit down and really look at the key features of our prototype.    What makes it tick?  What about our product would make users use it?  Since we all are trying to design a product that uses Augmented Reality along with technology, it appears our prototypes are unique with what’s already out there.  I briefly searched for products similar to anything our groups have that we are working on.  I didn’t find any competitors our groups need to be directly concerned about.  So, according to Tier 1 competitors, I don’t see any of us worrying about that.    When I thought about Tier 2 competitors, I thought this might be something to think about.  Are there aspects of our products we are designing that would have competition?  In our group, what makes our product any better than other geometry software out there?   There are websites that show nets folded up and in 3D.  What makes our product any better?  Each group needs to think about how its product is better than the products it is trying to replace.  A map and tour book versus an AR app, a chemistry lab at home versus an online one; a video, a field trip or web quest versus visiting GPS locations and seeing it in person.  We all have prototypes of products that are trying to replace or enhance products already out there.  So what can we do to get our products prepared for the consumer market? 

Kuniavsky had a lot to say and lots of methods to do it.  Through a feature audit, Group 1 needs to identify the key features of our product and identify any competitors out there that may have those same features and attributes.  In addition, once we have discovered some of those competitors we need to find out what features and/ or attributes the competition have that ours doesn’t that make them successful. If time permitted, each of our groups should apply some of the techniques we are using in our rounds and apply them to our competition.  Kuniavsky discusses this in his section on competitive analysis techniques.  Some examples are recruiting, contextual inquiry, focus groups, surveys and usability testing.  Some observations from our focus group discussion in Round 1, our participants began to talk about some key features they would like to see in our product.  Most began describing features on the I-touch and I-phone functionality.  I believe it was because they experienced our prototype on a i-touch mock-up and were expecting similar features.  In the end, the goal of competitive research is to gather enough information to make a meaningful comparison between your product and the competition.

I found a great website entitled, “How to Gather Competitive Research” and it has tremendous amounts of information on gathering competitive research.  According to the author, it is essential to define what competitive questions you want to ask and what kind of research data you need to make meaningful insights. In addition, she shares an acronym that apparently is used in competitive research.  SWOT – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.  This helps me to formulate aspects of my research strategies into our product and the competition’s.  As Kuniavsky stated, “Everywhere the competition’s product is more effective than yours reveals a weakness in your product, and vice versa.”

Keywords:  competitive user experience research, competitive intelligence, SWOT analysis

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