Why Oxytocin, Dophamine & Adrenalin are key to creating engaging Data Products ?

Human behaviors, rituals & habits are the outcome of complex interplay of the environment and experiences they have been exposed to. These definitely play a big role in shaping our product interaction experience. All of us have intuitively understood the importance of “cognitive resonance” in the first 8 seconds we interact with a product and how that experience has subsequently shaped our outlook to our product. As product designers its important to dig deep into the “brain” mechanics of what happens and why it happens to deliver a delightful experience to the customer.

In this blog we will focus on only 1 powerful question –

How do 3 specific hormones (Oxytocin, Dophamine & Adrenalin ) impact business outcomes ? (in multiple industries – Energy, Engineering etc ).

We would give concrete examples from the Industrial IOT sector where Flutura has practical real life reactions. In the industrial world we live in, the personas whos habits and behaviors drive our interaction experience are Reliability engineers, maintenance engineers, electro-mechanical designers etc.

So what does it take to engage an industrial mindset ? 3 important hormones are crucial for engagement. Lets deep dive into each of the hormones and their impact on designing digital/IOT data products

1. Oxytocin

World views in the industrial world runs deep ! It is very important for data product curators to see how industrial mental models see the world. Researchers have found that the ability of a person to empathize is related to the levels of Oxytocinin his/her brain. For example we interacted with a leading reliability engineer in Houston who told Srikanth how folks in upstream oil drilling saw the world. If our IOT data product engineer did not empathise with this world view and arrange the analytical outputs to align with it , they would easily switch off within 15 seconds of experiencing the data product .

Another story we wanted to share … We met the CEO of a multi billion dollar industrial asset manufacturer. Within 5 mins into the conversation this polite gentleman asked a powerful question – “Are you ready to take the liability for assets failure if we failed to predict its breakdown ?”. Something we never even thought off while building the product . So the key question we ask ourselves is

  • Have you seen the world thru the eyes of a Field maintenance engineer ?
  • Have you seen the world thru the eyes of a Reliability engineer ?
  • Have you seen the world thru the eyes of the Owner/Operator of the asset ?
  • Have you seen the world thru the eyes of the Design engineer ?
  • So how much Oxytocin does your product designer activate ?

2. Dophamine

Dophamine accelerates habit formation. Once we have passed the resonance hurdle we need to pass the next hurdle which is usage frequency. In order for a data product to be engaging it has to be a part of a high frequency “ritualistic” process. Another Houston example – We recently bundled Cerebra ( Fluturas IOT intelligence product ) on top of an OEMs engineering asset. This very well complimented an existing electro-mechanical diagnostic “ritual” by adding a “digital” component to the diagnostic process ( which used machine learning to arrive at the health of an asset under warranty). Every time the asset turned out healthy we were able to add elements to interaction screen which engaged the dophamine levels of a maintenance engineer with the digital diagnostic bot app. So here are a few key questions which could help

  • Does our IOT data product create an explicit link between outcomes and product usage ?
  • Does the industrial data product reinforce repeat behavior by evoking positive emotions?

3. Adrenalin

Adrenaline triggers the body’s fight-or-flight response. When is it useful to trigger Adrenalin ? When we want an instantaneous response from a human. For example in the Refineries when a a valve does not close at the expected rate, it has the potential to jeopardise the chemical process and dramtically increase operational risk. This needs instantaneous response from the operator who is habituted to seeing alarms and has developed “immunity” to respond to it. In this case Fluturas product designers activated escalation interactions to activate the Adrenalin based fight or flight response of the process engineers from a safety perspective.

Closing thoughts

In a super interrupted world, the digital products we design must find a way to fit within customers daily rituals and engage in order to stay relevant. Give this context here are 3 questions to ask when you design the next data product

  1. Does our digital product engage the Dophamine levels of our consumers when they take the next best action reccomended by the algorithmic data product ?
  2. Did the product designer have sufficient levels of Oxytocin to experience the world they live in?
  3. Does using our product give an Adrenalin rush when an important sensor signal gets drowned with all the alarms?

The billions of neurons in the brain is now the battle front for product designers and Oxytocin + Dophamine + Adrenalin are the 3 core levers to unlock engagement !