What are the innovative projects for ECE
In cooperation with Holisticon AG, we won the international #SmartBuildingsChallenge of the Industrial Internet Consortium and were recognized for our contribution at Bosch Connected World 2020. The focus of our contribution was the conception of a central dashboard for the presentation and analysis of building data.
Smart Buildings Challenge organized by the Industrial Internet Consortium
Smart Commercial Buildings
User-centered in a smart data environment
Individual dashboard solution that makes data-driven use cases accessible in a user-oriented and interactive manner
Consulting, conception, UX research, UX design, UI design
Strengthening the intelligence of shopping centers of ECE Projektmanagement GmbH & Co. KG with innovative digital solutions was the main task of the competition. To use and process data from a large number of measurement sensors was given as a solution to expand the work of the various stakeholders with new possibilities.
The result is a dashboard with integrated task and action management that not only supports sustainable decisions at management level, but also revolutionizes work in operational business. Partners in this challenge included TÜV Süd, Deka Immobilien, Bosch Building Technologies and Microsoft.
Controlling the home via a digital application is no longer a novelty and digitization is now also being carried out in larger buildings. Nevertheless, many areas in existing properties are still poorly networked and thus excluded from analysis and handling by smart solutions.
In order to take a big step towards the future, ECE initiated the “Smart Buildings Challenge” together with Bosch, the aim of which is to identify, promote and put into practice innovative digital technologies for improving building performance. With the help of sensor and measurement technology and other digital applications, real estate should become more energy-efficient, user-friendly and sustainable.
Together with our parent company Holisticon, we decided to take part in this challenge.
Use Case 4 - The Smart Building Cockpit
ECE develops and operates shopping centers and large properties such as office buildings, hotels and city quarters. In the course of the challenge, all proposed solutions for the “Ettlinger Tor” shopping center in Karlsruhe were to be designed.
The challenge was divided into four use cases:
Smart Space Flow Analytics: tracking, zones, anonymized tracking
Smart metering in multi-tenant commercial buildings: smart metering, energy consumption, focus on electronic energy
Smart Automated Building: HVAC, control of technical accessories, remote access to devices, sustainability
Smart Building Cockpit: Management Tool, Sales Tool, Overview, Digital Twin, AR
Each use case started with 10 teams of participants. After a presentation of the interim results, the field of participants was reduced to 3-5 participants per use case.
We rushed to the fourth use case, for which a dashboard concept had to be developed that, on the one hand, takes up the ideas and solution approaches of the first three use cases, but at the same time takes into account the general requirements of future users. Three different user groups with partly very different requirements were identified among the users.
The first user group includes the technical managers who, as the technical managers of shopping centers, have operational requirements for a digital application. The second user group is facility managers. These require analytical data acquisition at the central management level. In addition, there are Deka investors who also need access to statistics in order to be able to identify and evaluate developments in shopping centers over longer periods of time.
We started the challenge by chance and about three months late, but that shouldn't be a disadvantage for us later on. As with every new project, the first hurdle was to understand the professionalism and the requirements placed on us. Most of the other challenge participants were tech start-ups that specialize in building automation solutions. So there was a great advance in knowledge with regard to the use of hardware and technical feasibility.
We therefore split up in gathering information. While a colleague from Holisticon took on the role of product owner and was responsible for the technical part, we focused on the users in order to consolidate our joint results later.
User centered design
In our internal kick-off workshop it became clear that we see the greatest need to consider the users of the dashboard and their requirements for a “Smart Building Cockpit”. A technical manager is responsible for supervising a shopping center independently. A team of internal staff and a network of external companies are available to him for this purpose. A facility manager, on the other hand, needs analytical tools to track the short-term development of a shopping center or to derive forecasts.
We set ourselves the goal of developing an innovative dashboard concept that supports the technical manager in structuring his daily work better and being able to easily manage tasks for his colleagues. To do this, it was necessary to find out what the working day of a technical manager looks like, what tasks he has to fulfill and what challenges he has to deal with in his everyday work in order to derive from this which criteria have to be considered in the conception. We used the same approach to identify facility manager needs. Due to the large amount of data required for facility managers and investors, we initially only focused on the first two user groups.
The design personae of an exemplary technical and facility manager were created iteratively and used as the basis for the subsequent UX process. With the help of LinkedIn, but also Xing profiles of real ECE employees and additional information collected from vacancies for these positions, we sharpened our common image of our users.
At our first official challenge workshop in Munich, we verified the data we had collected and the persona components that were partly based on assumptions. We noticed a large overlap with our first iteration, but learned more details that could only be worked out in a personal conversation.
Lots of questions, and above all the right ones
With a sharper picture of the potential users, the next step was to first find out general information about the operation of shopping centers. In contrast to the view of a consumer who visits a shopping center to purchase groceries or entertainment electronics as well as to pass the time, operation - also from a strategic point of view - is characterized by maintenance, troubleshooting, repair, modernization and optimization. For example, there are energy efficiency targets that are worth striving for not only from an ethical but also from an economic point of view.
Through qualitative interviews and quantitative surveys via online questionnaires with different people from the ECE context, we were able to get a good overview of the status quo in a short time, but also the needs that we wanted to incorporate into our concept.
Probably the most complex part of our concept should be the transfer of the information available to us into user flows. Based on the needs of our personae, we had to precisely identify which overlaps existed from the different requirements for the application. We absolutely wanted to avoid two scenarios: 1. A dashboard that has to be put together independently and individually. 2. Two different applications with specific feature sets for the respective user group.
In order to better understand the daily work of the technical manager and to develop targeted solutions, we have developed ideas with the help of customer journey maps that fit the daily requirements of his work environment.
In order to consolidate all defined requirements within the same application, we documented features on post-its, sorted them according to user groups, prioritized them according to importance and compared both user groups in a comparison. A high level of congruence emerged, which we would not have expected in this form ourselves.
Only after this partial breakthrough were we able to create our user flows.
Reduction is focus
In contrast to classic operational dashboards, we have set ourselves the goal of creating an interface that focuses on completing certain tasks. We focused our main attention on the user and his daily work, following the user focus. We derived from the daily measures which tasks should be done with high and which with lower priority. Important tasks should be easy to find and highlighted.
In addition, we developed an operating concept, the aim of which is to only have to process one measure at a time. After selecting the desired action, the user is only offered those options that are directly related to the fulfillment of a specific task. A context change is only forced when a critical error occurs through a modal dialog.
When transferring our UX concept to the user interface, we made sure from the start that we built a component-based library that could be used as a basis for the joint development of individual views. This is not just a time saver in developing specific views. You also benefit from a consistent display of the user interface.
Even in a very short time window of a few weeks and a manageable number of product functions to be represented, a considerable component library was created that can be used as the basis for many other features.
Custom design or complete solution
The second challenge workshop took place in Berlin and should be used to present a (if possible) full presentation of the contribution to the use case. Here it was important to clarify as much as possible detailed questions in order to then be able to make the "fine-tuning" for the final submission. We already knew in advance that we as a team of IT consulting and design office would be the exotic ones among the participants. Our competitors had several years of experience in installing hardware and evaluating it in buildings.
Our aim was to make it clear how our concept differs from the partially finished solutions. In doing so, we were aware of the risk that we would argue for a procedure that is associated with a certain implementation period before the customized software can be used productively.
Alone at # BCW20
Shortly after the last workshop in Berlin, we received the news that after a brief recall in which technical questions were clarified, we were selected as the winner of our use case.
We were presented with the winner's trophy at the Bosch Connected World trade fair in Berlin, where, among others, Alexander Otto, Managing Director of ECE, gave a lecture on the need for digitization in buildings.
So it goes on
As the winner of the challenge, we received the order to develop an MVP in the next step together with the winners of the other use cases. This will initially be implemented on a purely technical basis and evaluated at a pilot shopping center.
wilhelm.tel - digitization of products, availability and order processesView project
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