User-centered development in IoT — New PhD candidate at IOTAP

Brian Katumba

Brian Katumba

Malmö University’s focus on society was one of the reasons why Brian Katumba applied for a PhD at IOTAP. Starting in May, Katumba will focus on adapting user-centered development methods to IoT product development.

Brian, what is your research interest?

I am interested in the holistic view of software and systems engineering research. I am specifically interested in product development methods, product requirements, and how users and other stakeholders can be involved in the different development phases of a product. Academia in collaboration with industrial research and development is something I treasure!

Why is this research important?

With the Internet of Things (IoT), there is a fundamental shift in how products are developed, deployed, and used by their customers. With products consisting of an increasing amount of software and with their capability of being connected to the Internet, the traditional notion of product development is changing rapidly. From being an activity that is typically conducted within the boundaries of the development company and with user feedback collected primarily in the early stages of the development process, it is shifting towards becoming an activity in which a network of stakeholders co-create value and in which user feedback is collected throughout the development process, but also after product deployment. This shift has implications on both IoT products and on the processes used for developing these.

Which IOTAP projects will you be involved in?

I will be involved mainly in the project User Feedback Infrastructures in IoT where we are looking into the adaption of user-centered development methods to IoT product development; how to integrate user feedback into the different phases of IoT product and service development, and how we can continually co-create value to IoT products and services during development and after deployment to users. To address this, we will collect data on user behaviour and collect information about the status, location, and identity of IoT products. This data will not only be used during the development phases, but we will continuously analyse it and use it to improve the quality of new products and services.

My major contribution to this research will be to adapt software engineering practices to IoT product development, such as methods and techniques for the collection and analysis of user feedback and IoT product data. Specifically, I will be answering questions on how a diverse set of data collection practices can be used to inform the development and continuous improvement of IoT products and services, and how networks of stakeholders can interact in continuous co-creation of value in IoT product development.

Why did you want to come to Malmö University?
There are many reasons why I applied for a PhD position at Malmö University. First, it has been my dream to pursue a PhD at some time in my life, and here comes an opportunity in my area of interest; that is, an area that involves both product development and users. Moreover, IOTAP is a research center that involves academia, industry, and product users, which is something I am fascinated with because it is the kind of education I have gone through during both my bachelor’s and my master’s studies.

Second, I was keen on joining the Department of Computer Science at Malmö University and meeting the researchers at that department, specifically those at the IOTAP research center. I am honoured to having had the opportunity for some of them to be my lecturers during my undergraduate studies. Having known some of them before, I definitely joined knowing that I will be in good hands of committed people when it comes to delivering to their students.

Last, I discovered that Malmö University focuses on the society in everything they do, and this is exactly the kind of setting in which I would like to continue my academic career. A PhD is a long-term goal but I intend to provide short-term value to the society and all partners of IOTAP. This means that the research we shall do is done with people in mind and for improving people’s lives, not for the sake of doing research. It is also important to note that Malmö as a city provides an international environment with a mix of many cultures, and Malmö is also known to be one of the most inventive cities, which I hope will create an environment for us to validate our research results.

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