Internet of Things

A cutting-edge digital product that leads to a multi-million dollar acquisition of your company? That’s right – just about anything is possible when a competent cross-functional team puts their mind to it for 16 months.

Colleen Patterson, Product Manager in Research and Development at International Road Dynamics (IRD), saw the transportation infrastructure industry changing. IRD specializes in ITS, Intelligent Transportation Systems, and she knew that they needed to innovate to continue to stay ahead of their customers’ needs. Territorial is known for high-end user experiences, refined UI and UX designs, and a unique approach to problem-solving; these were some of the reasons why Colleen approached Territorial to help build a new-to-industry product.

Three-Team Collaboration

Realizing the scope and significance of the endeavour, Colleen assembled and lead a multi-faceted team that took over different parts of the project. Along with Territorial, she brought on Tanya Lung as the IRD Software Product Development Manager, a dedicated team of IRD developers and analysts, and hired Mark Dick (CEO, Partner) and his ESTI team for the initial back-end and system development.

"Daren and his team at Territorial worked with our IRD team to define, design and implement the user interface for IRD’s Vehicle Information In Motion (VI2M) product. The goal was to create a user experience that would allow IRD customers to see the potential for information from the data they collect.

Through close collaboration between the two teams, a unique user experience has been created that strikes the balance between functionality, usability and possibilities."

Colleen Patterson

— Product Manager in Research and Development, IRD

Colleen Patterson

Problem Definition

With the teams united, we began to tackle the big questions. Our first goal was to define and understand the problem we needed to solve. Colleen knew the industry was changing, and explained that IRD’s international array of roadside sensors needed to be connected into an easy to navigate, client-facing data collection system – but she wasn’t entirely sure what the application should or could be capable of. Daren McLean (Project & Design Lead, Territorial Partner) engaged IRD in an extensive discovery process to help both Territorial and IRD understand the technical possibilities, industry needs, and potential design solutions for such a large and extensive project – all with the end goal of harmonizing streams of data.

During the discovery process, we ran into a major limitation: we were unable to interview end users (IRD clients) about how they use the existing digital products and what they would like to see in a new system. Daren and our lead developer, Sarah Etter, worked around this challenge by interviewing as many internal stakeholders as possible – including IRD managers, sales teams, and product owners. Despite our best efforts, within a week of deploying the beta product to an actual client, needs were identified that would likely have been discovered during end user interviews.

In a new-to-industry product where there aren’t any direct examples of success—or failure, for that matter—early validation from users is the best validation that the project is on the right track,” said Daren. “It took time, research, lot of questions, and even some failure to find the answers we needed in order to build a robust and effective product.

Daren McLean

— Project Lead, Creative Lead, Territorial

Solution

As Daren and Sarah became aware of the sheer amount of data that was being collected by IRD’s hardware, they began to see how the industry was moving towards the Internet of Things (IoT). By connecting and controlling thousands of sensors, the network becomes much greater than the sum of its parts. With this information superhighway in mind, Daren and Sarah recorded a number of use cases, then planned and prototyped an application dashboard with its related pages and widgets. The product was titled VI2M, or Vehicle Information In Motion.

Roles and Responsibilities

With the problem defined and a plan laid out, the three teams—IRD, ESTI, and Territorial—started to work in sync as an Agile team.

Daren McLean

Project Lead
Creative Lead

Discovery, UI and UX design, design system

Daren McLean

Scott Borys

Technical Lead

Discovery, product requirements and strategy, development

Scott Borys

Sarah Etter

Lead Developer

React and Laravel application development

Sarah Etter

Ozzie Neher

Developer

React and Laravel application development

Ozzie Neher

Vero Kokolus

Project Manager

Technical writing, resource and project management

Vero Kokolus

Zach Perkins

Creative Director

Prototype lead (Axure), UI and UX design, design system owner

Zach Perkins

Kirstie Seier

Designer

UI and UX design, information design, prototyping

Kirstie Seier

Daniela Flores

Designer

Documentation design

Daniela Flores

Kirstie Seier

Designer

UI and UX design, information design, prototyping

Kirstie Seier

Design System

As the work on front-end design and development progressed, Daren and Zach realized that a design system would be instrumental in maintaining long-term design requirements.

A design system allows a product to scale while maintaining a visual and functional consistency. It would allow IRD to grow their VI2M features and maintain standards across their entire suite of existing and future products without the need to engage a designer at every turn.

Zach Perkins

— Creative Director, Territorial

In the end, a full design system wasn’t developed due to product priorities and deadlines. Despite that, we were able to leave IRD with a robust style guide, a wealth of sample assets, and a roadmap towards developing a design system in the future.

Product Vision

The Territorial team started building the product, VI2M, as another tool in the IRD product portfolio. As the design and development teams got to work, Daren and Scott soon realized that VI2M was positioned to eventually incorporate all of IRD’s other product offerings. In other words, VI2M had the potential to become the maestro that would conduct and harmonize all of IRD’s existing and future services online. Daren and Colleen began working with Michael Wieck, IRD’s VP of ITS Data Solutions, to make this vision a reality.

Acquisition

After only nine busy months, IRD was able to begin deploying VI2M beta to their clients. Soon after, this IIoT application began drawing significant interest in and outside of the industry. In April 2017, it was announced that IRD was being acquired by Quarterhill (QTRH; formerly WiLAN), largely due to the IoT focus Colleen and Territorial had been pursuing within IRD.

The natural progression of [Quarterhill's] business has us focused on growth by identifying, acquiring and supporting IIoT companies with strong management teams, attractive financial performance and promising growth potential; IRD fits this profile perfectly."

What's Next

Territorial and IRD completed our VI2M collaboration in October 2017 with an impressive list of accomplishments: ground-breaking product released to market, a company with 30-year history embracing the spirit of innovation, and a CAD $63.5m acquisition. VI2M has incredible potential to allow governmental entities in the infrastructure industry to make better, more informed decisions. The team at Territorial is extremely proud of the product and the strong partnership we have built with IRD, and we’re excited about our plans to continue working together in the future.

Territorial and IRD Team

"The data collected through the operation of our systems has tremendous value to our current and future customers.

Standardising the collection and storage of data in the cloud enables us to provide a core platform of data services.

We are partnering with our customers to create solutions that are of value to them, simplifying and enhancing the flow of information."

Michael Wieck

— VP of ITS Data Solutions, IRD

Have a Tough Challenge?

Over the course of the VI2M project, Territorial has demonstrated our ability to adapt, innovate, and solve complex problems faced by an international corporation. Contact us if you have a project in mind – we’re always up for a challenge.

Daren McLean

Partner, Territorial

daren@territorial.ca

306-717-5713

Daren McLean Scott Borys