Boyeun Lee

Understanding New Product Development and Value Creation for the Internet of Things

Lancaster University
PhD awarded 2022

I am currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow for the DIGITLab Project at the University of Exeter Business School. Prior to the academic career, my practitioner background centred around service design in a wide range of public and commercial contexts across sectors and projects, such as service concept, design strategy, design audit, and user research. I completed my PhD in Design at Lancaster University under the supervision of Distinguished Prof Rachel Cooper OBE, Prof Paul Coulton and Dr David Hands.  My PhD research is on the NPD process for IoT systems, conducted in conjunction with the PETRAS Research Hub funded by EPSRC. Below is a summary of my doctoral research, which fits one of the RADMA topic areas, ‘Determinants of organisation-level performance in research, development, product design, and innovation’.

My research investigates the IoT NPD process reflecting the attributes and the nature of IoT development and value creation. At the onset of the research, there was a paucity of NPD processes for IoT products and services. The existing and emerging NPD models and approaches are considered obsolete for digitised artefacts or do not comprehensively represent the entire NPD process. New Product Development (NPD) is arguably one of the most critical business planning and implementation activities undertaken within the organisation because structured NPDs enhance firms’ competitiveness and survival. As IoT, the combination of physical components, smart components, and connectivity, is distinctive to traditional products, scholars from engineering, marketing, and design claim that the conventional NPD models should be reframed.

An exploratory multiple case study was adopted to gain a primary understanding of IoT development. Six cases were selected for the study from various sectors, including healthcare, smart home, drain maintenance, dairy, vertical farming, and tropical farming. As a result, I developed the conceptual model of the IoT NPD process, the Mobius strip model reflecting the attributes of complex development practice and value creation. The model implies the five attributes, which are:
– The process consists of three infinite loops of value creation and NPD activities, each of which is hardware-centred, software-centred, and algorithms-centred IoT NPD
– the process is continuous and emergent
– the process involves three different types of subject matter, hardware development, software development, and data science process
– Distinctive characteristics of each subject matter impact each cycle of development speed and approach
– The temporal division between development and usage is condensed

The proposed conceptual model contributes to existing NPD theories by offering insights into the key attributes and challenges of IoT NPD and value creation activities. It also provides the foundation upon which other knowledge can be constructed, including R&D, design, innovation, information systems, and product management studies.

Once again, I want to express my utmost gratitude to RADMA for the generous support of my PhD journey. It enabled me to engage in wider research communities, attending and presenting my research papers at conferences. Although my full-time doctoral research at Lancaster University was funded by the ‘Design for the Internet of Things’ studentship for 3.5 years, my stipend was reduced due to covering overseas students’ tuition fees. Accordingly, the RADMA Doctoral Studies Award complemented the shortage. I was also able to grow as an independent researcher, taking part in different projects. This included working as a Research Associate in the Qualified Selves project at the University of Edinburgh and as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Beyond Imagination at Lancaster University.