Context. SEnerCon is mainly developing web-applications for end-users in the domain of energy efficiency management. These applications fall into two categories. The first one includes applications that enable end- users to monitor and analyse their energy consumption, while applications from the second category guide/advise end-users on how to save energy in every day’s life, through behavioural or technical changes. Usability and capability of the applications to provide clear explanations of the proposed advices are crucial to increase end-user acceptance of SEnerCon applications.
SEnerCon, while having 24 applications with hundreds of users and on-line advisors in place, and assuming to provide end-users with highly beneficial products in regards to energy and cost savings, recognizes an unforeseen lack of user acceptance. This hurts the company core business and represents a missing opportunity for contributing to climate protection and resource waste reduction. SEnerCon provides users a dedicated forum and hotline to ask for support if they have trouble using the applications, moreover data including users log-on frequency, permanence, data entered and advisors used are tracked. Their analysis is still mostly manual and application developers get frustrated using this data and information to improve the applications they develop. User validation is addressed through a “waterfall” development process and a “trial and error” approach.
Challenges. SEnerCon wants to tackle the acceptability issue, improving QoE for its application in a systematic way by: (i) involving the end-users in a seamless way in the software evolution process; (ii) providing the developer team appropriate methods and tools to communicate with the end-users; (iii) improving personalization capabilities of their applications.
Expected benefits and impact. Adopting SUPERSEDE’s methods and tools will enable SEnerCon to:
- Empower end-user and developer for software evolution. The set-up of an effective communication channel between end-users and developers, will give the SEnerCon team not only the chance to get support for software evolution but also contributions to the development of new energy saving applications. Feedback gathering tools should support developers in identifying urgent requests, thus allowing them to improve application reliability through fast response in case of technical issues. Moreover, SUPERSEDE tools should support developers identifying and prioritizing new features for existing or new application.
- Improve application personalization. The tools supporting the analysis of combined user feedback, contextual data, and patters of usage will allow the developers to identify the specific needs of different type of users (e.g. elderly vs. young people) and will support them designing for dynamic personalization of energy management applications.