Academic journal article JITTA : Journal of Information Technology Theory and Application

Developing Feature Sets for Geographically Diverse External End Users: A Call for Value-Based Preference Modeling

Academic journal article JITTA : Journal of Information Technology Theory and Application

Developing Feature Sets for Geographically Diverse External End Users: A Call for Value-Based Preference Modeling

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Here we explore the terrain of understanding the value of IT applications for diverse users across geographically diverse markets. The domain of our investigation is the development of features for applications that make use of presence and location information about the user. There is good reason to believe that such applications might create substantial value for mobile device users because the systems could use our declared availability and intentions (presence) along with our location to present us with information and choices of high circumstantial value. We explored the use of wide audience requirements engineering (WARE) to collect and analyze data from potential lead users in Helsinki, Las Vegas, and Hong Kong about their preferences for applications using presence and location information. We further analyzed the data to differentiate among the three cities. Results showed substantial differences in user preferences for presence and location enabled applications across the three cities, suggesting that applications developed for one market might not succeed in the others. We propose the design of new methods to develop distinct feature sets for IT applications intended for use by diverse users in different markets.

INTRODUCTION

Global products can no longer be designed for national markets and then rolled out at leisure to the world on a take it or leave it basis (Honold 2000). Intense competition demands that they be designed to accommodate the preferences of customers in different markets for simultaneous introduction. Consequently, product features and attributes need to accommodate a diverse audience of users outside the organization and outside the market of origin.

In addition, for more and more products, information systems are not only the channel through which they are marketed, but also major components of the products themselves. As a result a significant crossover between IS design and consumer product research may be required to meet the needs of systems and products in, for example, areas such as web site design (Luna, Peracchio and Juan 2002) and mobile technology based applications. Furthermore, such new systems often involve functions and technology consumers have never seen or considered before and have all the same pitfalls and concerns of other disruptive product innovations. The failure to recognize the need to understand varied and changing market preferences can spell disaster for global system and product introductions. Good examples can be seen in the troubles that the telecommunication industry has faced when rolling out global wireless Internet services (Barwise and Meehan 2004): products that suit the Northern European customer may flop in North American or Asian markets.

In this paper we explore the problem of developing application features for new consumer oriented systems that must be designed for diverse, geographically dispersed customers and which make use of technologies that the customers haven't hitherto seen. We explore the adaptation of wide audience requirements engineering (WARE) (Tuunanen, Peffers and Gengler 2004), a method we developed to collect and analyze user preferences and reasoning for new system features, for use in developing the features for geographically diverse user sets. The context of our investigation is a study of user preferences and reasoning for applications and features using presence and location data to be designed for users in Europe, North America, and Asia.

The paper applies WARE to a cross continental context for requirements engineering (RE) of new consumer oriented mobile systems that will meet the needs of users in a variety of national markets. WARE is a requirements engineering method for capturing, modeling, and presenting feature preferences from dispersed end-users and potential end users, who may have little connection with the firm, the technology, or the products. Such users may have little basis for feature preferences, may have little understanding of the underlying technology, and may have little motivation to participate in the development process. …

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