REVOLUTIONISING USER EXPERIENCE IN WATER SYSTEMS MANAGEMENT
DAB Pumps is a leading player in the field of water movement and management. In its more than 40 years of activity, it always kept at the forefront of technology, yet it felt that now was the time to move to the next level, shifting from a product-centric approach to a user-centric strategy. A watershed change in perspective, supported by Studio Volpi.
Making life easier for users
The objective of this bold and rather radical strategic move was ultimately to make life easier for those actually managing water movement systems. The way to achieve this was to allow for the centralisation and the remote management of the plants through a dedicated IoT platform. At any time, users would have complete vision and control, which in turn would ensure their ability to sustainably optimise the management of the pumping systems under their responsibility. Studio Volpi joined DAB in developing a digital, IoT connected service dashboard, the DConnect portal. This innovative tool is set to completely revolutionise user experience in the field, with a strong emphasis on the importance of real time data and information, and putting users at the center.
Apart from giving operators instant access to data and total control over their water systems, from the comfort of their own office/control-room, specs for the new DConnect tool also required it to help reduce operating costs through the optimisation of water usage, improving efficiency and reliability, thus increasing the life span of the plants. DConnect would also need to be an open system, highly user-friendly, guaranteeing simple access to information. It would further have to offer security and complete reliability, while being flexible enough to allow for continuous evolution and improvement. This was no simple feat for the developers when considering that, all the above was to be delivered having in mind a broadened target audience which included installers, maintainers, OEM, private customers and facility managers.
Involving users in finding the solutions
User integration in the development of UX solutions is not only good practice, it also make a lot of sense and, most of all, helps quickly identifying the most effective, and valued solutions. This is precisely the path followed by the developers of DConnect digital services, putting the user in the spotlight. In effect, preliminary user interviews and market analysis led to a deep makeover of the GUI design, including graphics, design and contents. Also recommendations for new functionalities and improved user experience were other precious outcomes of the audit. They guided the team in producing a design that allowed for every type of users to find information relevant to them in an agile and intuitive way. This brought great value to the users, with clear data highlights, and easy-reading contents and menus. Also the interface provided for direct access to the most frequent actions users need to perform.
Above and beyond
As a monitoring platform enabling users to remotely and continuously control installations, DConnect has the added advantage of scalability. Not only, its data analysis capabilities allow the implementation of specific actions to improve system performance, comparing systems to identify the best configurations. Also, the tool is able to detect anomalies, notifying them immediately and allowing for the timely implementation of corrective actions. This is particularly important as, especially in certain countries, ongoing water waste through dilapidated pipes is actually extremely relevant. DConnect is designed to allow for the remote regular updating of systems to activate new functions or correct critical issues. The system was intentionally made open so as to be compatible with common home connectivity tools such as Alexa and Google Home. It truly is a ready-to-use platform, also as a mobile app with a highly intuitive user interface, and a dynamic one too, thanks to the constant research and the continuous development of new functionalities and solutions.
Expanding the audience
Switching to a human-centric model enabled DAB to expand it target audiences beyond its traditional technology-savvy customers and address a new kind of users, less technical, such as building managers or even end consumers in their home environment. Part of a broader process of transformation within the company, this initial project towards a customer-centric vision will serve as a stepping stone for the extension of this new strategy to the rest of DAB’s proposition, which will eventually result in a consistent eco-system with a shared philosophy, usability and visual language.
Reaping the rewards
The DConnect experience can genuinely be considered as a success, so much so it was up for nomination at the UX Awards ceremony in Berlin, last September. Most importantly, it showed how a high-level transformation project supported by Studio Volpi’s communications team about strategic aspects of the company’s approach, led to the development of a specific, very concrete product involving the Studio’s technology experts, which went well beyond the boundaries of a normal commercial endeavour and is breaking new ground in terms of sustainability. In effect, water waste is a global concern, and a better, more responsive and responsible management of the most precious resource on earth certainly shows the way towards a better tomorrow, with the end consumer ever more in control and empowered to take direct action and become part of the solution.