Since the early months of the project implementation and in preparation of the design and development phases of the project, the ICARUS consortium initiated the definition of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) in order to ensure that the ICARUS platform is designed and viewed as a product with enough features to satisfy the early aviation adopters, minimizing the risk of failure and improving the value generated. The MVP is directly linked with the lean start-up approach in the design and development, which is in full alignment with the concept and work plan of ICARUS, especially when taking into account the limited resources and the short project duration.
In contrast to the usual practices that view the MVP as a critical asset in the prototyping phase, the MVP in ICARUS is instrumental to guide the design and development activities throughout the project implementation and represents the platform release that will be delivered in the end of the project. In essence, the ICARUS MVP represents the overall mindset and process adopted for product development to continuously test the aviation stakeholders’ reaction, to deliver added value and validate the methodological ideas and hypothesis.
In brief, as depicted in the following figure, the approach that is applied for the MVP definition bears three core phases, namely Feature Definition, Feature Assessment and MVP Consolidation (cross-cutting the methodology elicitation, design and development activities) and runs over two iterations in D1.2 and D1.3.
Due to the dual roles of the targeted aviation data stakeholders in ICARUS (i.e. data providers and data consumers), the MVP needs to be balanced in order to satisfy both their needs and this is why its features have been elaborated from the platform perspective.
A two-step assessment of the MVP has been followed:
- Internally within the ICARUS consortium in order to gauge the feedback of the 4 demonstrators (AIA, PACE/TXT, ISI, CELLOCK) and of the core data provider (OAG), and
- Externally with key stakeholders that are approached either face-to-face in the content of the ICARUS stakeholder engagement activities or online through a targeted survey.
With regard to the internal MVP assessment, the relevant ICARUS stakeholders were requested to describe and rate online in a qualitative manner: (a) the anticipated business value of each feature for their own organization and (b) the expected business value of each feature for the overall aviation industry, using a scale between 1 (Little or no impact on internal operations, Little or no competitive advantage for ICARUS in the aviation industry) and 5 (Extreme impact on internal operations, Critical competitive advantage for ICARUS in the aviation industry) points and taking into account their respective responses to the questions: (a) How important is this feature for your internal operations? (b) How crucial is this feature for the broader aviation industry? The scale that has been adopted builds on the proposition of Lant regarding the assessment of the business value and adapts it to the broader context of features (rather than concrete user stories that will follow at later stages of the project). In general, the “industry” assessment is broadly consistent with the “own business value” dimension.
With regard to the external MVP assessment, from September 2018 until February 2019, a number of online interviews were arranged with the help of the ICARUS consortium in order to externalize the ICARUS concept and the MVP features, and gather feedback from different stakeholders in the 1st-2nd-3rd tiers. The interviews were conducted in an open format, presenting the ICARUS MVP and opening up a discussion with each stakeholder on which existing features of the MVP matter most to his/her organization, which are the features that are a precondition for his/her organization to experiment with the ICARUS platform, and whether he/she would be willing to test the ICARUS platform (as a beta user). Through such an activity, the perspectives of an airline (AEGEAN Airlines), an aircraft manufacturer (BOEING), a ground handler (Goldair Handling), a catering company (Plane Catering), a weather data provider (UBIMET) and a health organization (Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesù) have complemented and expanded the ICARUS MVP, and have contributed to effectively catching the market realm.
Overall, the MVP interviews proved very productive and provided valuable and fruitful feedback, that helped the ICARUS consortium not only to better understand the requirements and concerns of key external stakeholders, but also to align its offering to the aviation market needs and early initiate direct contact with potential beta users of the ICARUS platform. The feedback received for the ICARUS MVP by all stakeholders, without any exception, was truly positive, in some cases even enthusiastic, and provided very concrete suggestions on how to improve the ICARUS MVP, such as:
- A clear pre-condition for the ICARUS platform is that “the organization’s data must not leave our premises unencrypted”, so end-to-end security (that goes really beyond the data encryption upon uploading them in the ICARUS platform) must be ensured. (Requirement expressed by AEGEAN Airlines)
- ICARUS will help in automating and standardizing the data contracts, but it is also very important to be able to change and negotiate certain terms and keep full traceability of the whole process. Since the legal department of a data consumer always needs to approve the draft contract under discussion, it is important to be able to extract / download it from the platform. (Requirement expressed by BOEING)
Such suggestions were meticulously taken into account in the final MVP consolidation, but also in the ongoing methodologies elaboration and design activities in order to ensure that they have been properly reflected and addressed in their intermediate results. It needs to be noted that the feedback received is also in line with the survey findings that were presented in D1.3 (Section 2).
Overall, the final ICARUS MVP is addressed to the aviation data value chain stakeholders and, in particular, to data providers and data consumers, as well as to data analysts and business users of the stakeholders in the 1st-2nd-3rd data tiers, containing 38 features, including 11 existing and new features that were added (out of which 5 features are new, not mentioned in D1.2), removing 6 features from the preliminary MVP and changing the scope of 1 feature.
Blog post prepared by Suite5.