What is U4IoT and for whom is this website?
User Engagement for Large-Scale Pilots in the Internet of Things (U4IoT)
is a Coordination and Support Action in the European IoT-LSP programme.
From the beginning of 2017 until the end of 2019 U4IoT will support the
Large-Scale Pilot (LSP) projects in this programme to actively engage end-users
in large-scale pilot design, deployment and assessment. Besides the LSP partners,
SMEs also participate in the Open Calls; connected end-user communities and other stakeholders
can also benefit from the U4IoT tools and support services.
What is end-user engagement and why is it important?
End-user engagement is the act of involving the end-users of a future product,
application or service in the ideation, design, development, evaluation and implementation
processes of a project to gain a deeper understanding in the context of use and empathise with
their needs. Engaging end-users, ideally already from early needfinding and ideation in a project,
is important for researchers, designers and developers to be able to empathise with, and understand
end-users and their goals, dreams, actions as well as challenges they face in order to design and develop
more valuable, meaningful, usable and ethical products, applications or services.
Who are the end-users relevant for my project?
The end-users that are relevant to invite to your end-user engagement activities depend on your targeted user-group(s).
Participants who are the direct end-users of the product, application or service under development are most suitable.
The more specific your participant selection, the more insightful the results. Besides end-users, other users or stakeholders
that might also be part of the ecosystem can and in many cases should be involved in the end-user engagement activities.
Multidisciplinary participant groups that also involve experts from your team, although more difficult to manage, can result
in even more useful insights. However, engaging with non-users (those who have actively chosen not to use the product,
application or service) can also give valuable insights into their perspectives and thoughts,
as well as understanding why they do not want to use the solution and what kinds of values are needed
to be reached to encourage them to use the solution.
Where can I find end-users for my project?
Finding end-users for your project can be tricky, especially if you have a target group that is more difficult to reach,
e.g. due to the fact that they are working during the day or are scattered in terms of location.
Also, gaining the consent of more vulnerable groups, e.g. elderly or children, to participate in your end-user
engagement activities might be more challenging. Marketing agencies often have lists with end-user engagement
communities; after subscribing for this paid service, the people on the list can be contacted. Besides these agencies,
universities often also have a database with end-users to contact for their research. More and more Living Labs exist in "Smart Cities"
and in the context of other domains (Smart Agriculture, Smart Mobility, eHealth etc.), these Living Labs often also have a
network of end-users they frequently contact for their research activities.
When do I need to engage end-users in my project?
The earlier you engage end-users in your project, the earlier you can start to gain insights in the context of use and empathise with possible needs.
Engaging end-users throughout the length of the project makes it possible to also co-create the solutions together with your end-users,
making it possible to design solutions and evaluate the developed prototypes together with them. Implementation of a product, application or
service can also be accelerated, since end-users have already interacted with the solution in an early stage and might therefore be more willing
to adopt it and promote it to others.
Why should I engage end-users and what are the benefits for my project?
Engaging end-users in a project can be time- and energy-consuming and therefore quite costly. Often projects therefore decide to not engage end-users at all.
However, it has been shown to be worth it for mainly three reasons: economically (since it is more effective and efficient to know early on what creates and
doesn’t create value for end-users), ethically (because it is morally right to let the people who should use the product, application or service also have a
voice in how it should be designed) and socially (because it gives insights into end-users’ contexts, increases empathy for end-users and also builds relations
between the project/company/organisation and its intended end-users). Without end-user engagement research, the type of functionalities needed and the embodiment
of these functionalities are not substantiated. This can lead to very long internal discussions that delay the design and development process.
Moreover, prototypes are often only be technically evaluated and possible usability flaws therefore only arise after implementation. Engaging end-users
throughout the innovation cycles can overcome these issues and, in any case, make the whole process a lot more fun!
How can I implement end-user engagement activities in my project?
This website provides numerous tools, methodologies and recommendations that can be applied to engage end-users in your project.
Each form of support contains guidelines on how the tools, methodologies and recommendations should be applied. A lot of inspirational tools,
methodologies and recommendations can be found in our End-User Engagement Toolkit.
If you are not sure where to start, you can use the Interactive
Flow-Diagram that can be used to select the right form of support according to your specified needs.
I want to learn more about end-user engagement, where can I find more information??
The tools, methodologies and recommendations on this website and in
our End-User Engagement Toolkit each provide more information on end-user engagement.
We offer two handbooks, the Co-Creative Workshop Methodology Handbook and
the Living Lab Methodology Handbook. Moreover there are e-Courses available that
explain the tools, methodologies and recommendations in more depth. If you still have more questions in terms of end-user engagement you can contact us via
the form at the bottom of this page and send us your question. We will then get back to you with an answer as soon as possible. In the links underneath you
can find some interesting reading material to get your end-user engagement activities up and running.