Apps

Bringing an app that rewards kindness to life

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App that rewards kindness

This is the second part in a series about a group of competitors in the Connect to Cognitive Build contest. Read the first part to find out how the team developed the idea for the HatsOff app.

The hard decisions started almost immediately after we hit the submit button.

After getting through that first level of “what if,” we submitted a proposal for an app designed to reward kindness called HatsOff to the Connect to Cloud Cognitive Build contest. That was the easy part. Who wouldn’t support an app that encouraged kindness?

Our team didn’t wait until we received the “you have been accepted” notification to begin our next round of brainstorming. We were confident that our #HatsOff app was a great idea. We believed in it and had the passion to drive it forward. We had already gone through these design thinking exercises:

  • Divergent thinking to generate a list of industries in which the app would be appropriate, as well as the problems it solved
  • Convergent thinking to narrow possibilities by building out personas
  • Empathy maps to better understand customers

Our idea was applicable to many industries, but we needed to focus on just a few: retail, hospitality, insurance and transportation. We further narrowed in on insurance to scope the problem being solved. We chose the two personas of the driver and the insurance agent, which gave the team enough information to begin the next phase of prototyping.

What we didn’t expect was the time it would take to develop the business case and market our idea internally to receive group resource funding. We knew that we had to get both the business case and the technology to be compelling enough to convince our voting colleagues that it was worthy enough for them to vote with their dollars.

Competition was stiff. We started with our management chain, gaining support and input, and expanded our circle to communities we were active in and our network of contacts, actively telling our story like a startup. Our storytelling skills paid off, and we achieved the largest amount of funding, supporters and enthusiasm in the group of candidate submissions.

The next phase was the prototype. Luckily, we had a visual designer and two user-experience designers volunteer to join our team. With low-fidelity, paper-and-pencil prototypes, we started the layout of the app. Then we iterated many times. That’s how we came to a decision on the logo that would represent in a single visual what the app was all about. We did the same for the color selection that would be appealing to the targeted buyer and users. Details mattered.

Kindness app logos

HatsOff kindness app UI

Our next critical tasks were setting up our development environment, refining our architecture and designing the important API services layer. By this time, our initial thinking that HatsOff would be a single solution with a user interface and a backend services component to it had evolved.

As we went through the design thinking process and hashed ideas, it became evident that we could provide value to other apps and industries through APIs such as an app for an automobile insurer.

The first draft of our architectural diagram had a lot of lines and boxes with question marks. These corresponded with the technical choices we had to make from a wide variety of runtimes, along with cognitive, analytic and data service options that Bluemix offered for our solution.

We realized that we were not experts in some of these. Blockchain was an example of something that we needed to learn more about to determine if it was something that could add value or not.

The #HatsOff app core team and several incredible volunteers are fast at work putting together a working prototype in which all the details come together. We are confident that we are asking the right questions, open to learning, and have our focus on the customer that will take our app to the next level. Stay tuned.

Learn more about IBM is helping clients take advantage of the digital economy.

HatsOff team members Ron Lynn, Padma Chukka and Soad Abu El-Naga contributed to this story.

 

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