Oral presentation and full paper at Engineering for Rural Development, Jelgava, Latvia
SPEEDING UP THE INNOVATION PROCESSES IN AGRICULTURAL ENGINEERING THROUGH USER-CENTRED DESIGN AND MULTI-ACTOR APPROACH
Hannu E. S. Haapala
Abstract. Innovation processes in agricultural engineering face factors that slow down or even abort them. This is the case also for the application and embedding phases. If not widely applied in practice the innovations do not give their full potential. If the process is totally aborted, all the investments in research and prototyping are done in vain, and the projected benefits of the new solutions are not realized at all. To avoid unnecessary losses, it is important that users accept the developed products. The technologies need first to be purchased, and then used in a proper manner so that their benefits are realized, so that the users return to buy again. According to recent research, an important buying criterion of new solutions in agriculture is usability. Usable products have a good combination of ease-of-use, learnability, and efficiency. They also operate with few errors. Finally, they are subjectively pleasing. User-Centred Design (UCD) is a methodology for designing usable technologies and services. It is widely utilized to ensure better end-user acceptance. Inclusion of end-users in innovation makes the products more suitable for the users’ variable situations. The UCD also builds the users’ trust on the solutions. Eventually, UCD reduces need for iteration in the process, thus speeding up the innovation. Multi-Actor Approach (MAA) brings different kinds of people together to develop solutions. Best results are achieved when the participants have long enough cognitive distances. MAA speeds up the innovation processes as the products have been assessed from several angles. The probability for reaching a winning product arises. In the paper, examples are given on UCD and MAA in the design of agricultural solutions. Two projects of the author, an OECD-CRP and an H2020 funded research on how to speed up and support innovation in agriculture, are referred. Recommendations on how to enhance the usage of these methods are given.
Keywords: agriculture, engineering, innovation, User-Centred Design, Multi-Actor Approach