Why is experimentation important?
Taking an experimental approach to developing new products, services and experiences is crucial for the success of innovations. By experimentation, innovators can gain a better understanding of their target customer, their contact and behavior, and gather real-life proof that their idea works. In today’s complex environment where customer behavior and dynamics are constantly evolving, experiments allow us to limit uncertainty, learn quickly and de-risk innovation.
Now, you may ask yourself, what do we mean by experimentation? Experimentation is simply setting up a method to test your ideas. They can come in different forms and vary in level of fidelity; e.g., from low fidelity sketches to high fidelity close-to-end-products. This also implies that different experiments can work for your idea. The key is to test as early as possible, to fail fast and learn faster.
"When creating new products and services, affordable lessons are more attractive than expensive failures."
By testing as early as possible, we can understand the value of an idea and whether customers or users have a demand for it or not. Setting up a small experiment, such as a sketch of an idea and asking the target audience what they like or dislike about it can help identify blind spots and risks in an early stage. It also provides an opportunity to learn quickly, before you invest your time and money in the idea. This also means that we should quickly discard ideas that flop and iteratively refine ideas that show promise. Then when it is time to launch, your probability of success is 1000 times higher.
"The most successful experiments are those that look and feel as real as possible, because often what people say and do are two different things."
By making experiments look and feel as real as possible, we can really understand what users think of an idea or concept. If they are close to experiencing the real product, we can understand how they behave and which elements of the idea they love and which elements need further improving. One of the methods that we use is the Wizard of Oz method where one person – the Tester – is running the face-to face experiment with the user, while a second person – the Wizard – is controlling the responses sent to the user. In one of Deloitte’s projects, we created a social robot for elderly people, the user was interacting with the robot while behind-the-scenes, in another room, another person was responding as the robot to the user. This allowed the team to understand how the user would interact with the robot without already developing the robot itself.