Best Practice

Innovation Through Rapid R&D: Best practice guide to running your own in-house lab

By Fergus Roche,
innovation-through-rapid-r_d.jpg

This report, written by Fergus Roche, co-founder at digital experience agency JOYLAB, shows you how to get the best cross-channel performance by setting up your own pop-up lab, enabling you to take rapid R&D in-house.

By following a seven-step process, you'll be able to employ data-driven techniques to model and map customer experiences across channels and determine which technology you should employ to support your commercial vision.

In order to understand how customers want to shop our products, it's essential to glean insight through data. If you're thinking of re-platforming and integrating expensive omnichannel solutions, it's vital to be informed and prioritise correctly.

Developing that understanding fast, through rapid R&D, helps retailers and other brands to quickly prioritise the right projects and identify bottlenecks. To get the best performance across the channels, you need to focus your assets, budget and time on the right customer touchpoints.

The challenge for brands is to develop an experience where all channels are working together, where the digital bridges seamlessly with the physical and information is readily available in-store or online

But designing this seamless cross-channel future is easier said than done - omnichannel is messy and the technology that makes it all possible is expensive.

What you'll learn

  • The benefits of carrying out in-house research to support your omnichannel vision.
  • The importance of aligning your technical solutions with your key objectives.
  • The ways in which innovation labs are driving product development.
  • How to enable a new pop-up lab team to run rapid prototyping and testing to develop an effective omnichannel offering.
  • How to get your pop-up lab up and running using a seven-step process:

Seven-step process

Who should read this report?

This guide has been written primarily for data-driven omnichannel management but can be applicable to anyone who is interested in setting up a pop-up lab to run agile research and development. 

Features of the report

At over 50 pages in length, the report covers the following topics:

  • Context and background of lean UX and the evolution of user-centred design.
  • The pop-up lab and the benefits of rapid prototyping.
  • The seven-step process involved in setting up a lab.
  • Challenges and opportunities presented throughout the process.
  • Budgeting and resources, including the key aspects of putting an effective team together.

Within each section, we explore the technical implications for setting up a pop-up lab and running research and development in house, including a chapter summary. 

Contributing authors

Fergus Roche, JoylabFergus Roche

Fergus Roche is a partner at JOYLAB and a customer experience digital industry veteran. He has worked with eBay, Argos, Sky, Qatar Airways, Cisco, HP Labs & British Red Cross. Fergus has worked at some of the leading UK design agencies and before this client-side in ecommerce at lastminute.com (where it all started for him).

JOYLAB works with ambitious brands to design cutting-edge experiences; high street to haute couture, big box retail to pureplay digital. The seven-step method described in this paper is based on the approach JOYLAB uses to run omnichannel rapid prototyping projects with their clients.

Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
    1. About the author
    2. About Econsultancy
  2. Context and Background
    1. Lean UX and the evolution of user experience design
    2. Skunk Works: the secret military beginnings of rapid prototyping
    3. The evolution of user-centred design
    4. UX and service design
    5. The evolution of omnichannel
      1. The Amazon effect
    6. Where we are now
    7. Aligning your technical solutions for omnichannel omnipotence
  3. The Pop-up Lab
    1. Benefits of in-house research into omnichannel
    2. Defining rapid prototyping
      1. It lets you build a simulation of reality
      2. Building prototypes: fidelity and complexity
    3. The benefits of rapid prototyping
  4. The Seven-Step Process
    1. A quick note about timeframes
    2. Getting started
      1. Focus your research: sniper fire not carpet bombing
      2. Decide on your research questions
      3. Build your team
      4. Empower your team: give them the skeleton key
      5. Get your team some space: the mobile war room
      6. Prioritise your research questions
    3. Data access and analysis
      1. Find the data
      2. Assess the data
      3. Organise and (rapidly) analyse the data
      4. Don't be disheartened
    4. Stakeholder power combined
      1. Gather the stakeholders and experts
      2. Run brainstorming workshops
      3. Assess the channel projects
      4. Capture requirements and prioritise
    5. Real customers and spending time with them
      1. Why? Kirk versus Spock
      2. Recruit real customers
      3. Run qualitative tests with your sample set
      4. Try to be structured in your research
    6. Operations: assess findings with staff
      1. Engage a wide spread of operational staff
      2. Fill in the blanks in your findings and gain context
      3. Run brainstorming sessions to help shape your findings
    7. Plan before you design
    8. Design and test, again and again
      1. Complete design planning
      2. Design a prototype
      3. Test it
      4. Iterate and demonstrate
    9. Win hearts and minds: share your findings
      1. Get into dialogue and gain further insight
    10. Remember, these are guidelines not rules
  5. Challenges and Opportunities
    1. Challenges
      1. Don’t lead users, listen
      2. The truth is always slightly to the left
      3. Known knows, known unknowns and unknown unknowns
      4. Making mistakes means you’re making decisions
      5. Stay small, go guerrilla
      6. Just enough
    2. Opportunities
      1. We are all creative
  6. Budgeting and Resourcing
    1. Budgeting and planning
      1. Time
      2. Scope
      3. Cost
      4. Quality
    2. Resourcing and building your A-team
      1. Project lead
      2. Researcher/analyst
      3. Experience designer
      4. Prototyper/developer
      5. Project manager
    3. Get backing
  7. Additional References

Download a copy of the report to learn more.

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