Sunday, May 11, 2014

Difficulties in Demonstrating Toolkit and Toolbox Software

Many organizations don’t describe their offerings as complete applications, but rather as toolkits or toolboxes – and very often struggle to find effective ways to demonstrate them and communicate value.  Toolkit offerings enable enormous flexibility, but may demand an ability to visualize what end deliverables might resonate with specific customers.

Consider the following toolkit list of components:
·         - The intelligent NXT features 32-bit microprocessor, a large matrix display, 4 input and 3 output ports, and Bluetooth and USB communication link
·         - Three interactive servo motors
·         - Four sensors: Ultrasonic Sensor, 2 Touch Sensors and the all-new Color Sensor
·         - Color Sensor has triple functionality: distinguishes colors and light settings, and functions as a lamp
·         - Easy-to-use software (PC and Mac) with icon-based drag-and-drop programming and 16 fun building and programming challenges
·         - All the elements (612 pieces) you need
·         - Personalize with the Sound and Icon editors
·         - Share your project files with your friends with the Pack-N-Go project packager
·         - Batteries not included

What could you build with this?  What solutions does this enable – what problems does it address?  Pretty tough!

We can take a lesson from a toy company:  Lego.  These folks have taken the concept of “a pile of bricks” – a toolkit– to a wonderful array of tangible, easy-to-envision deliverables.  For example, the toolkit listed above is the components listing for Lego’s Mindstorms robots“The NXT generation of buildable, programmable robots is here!”

And how does Lego help their customers visualize the end result?  They use Illustrations of the (very cool) robots that the kit can build.  Check them out here:

These same ideas can be applied to Vision Generation demos for toolkit and toolbox software:  generate and present Illustrations of high-probability end-results that your tools can build – and present them as examples for further exploration and discussion.

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