Hardware beta tests typically focus on quality, out of the box experience, and performance in real-world environments, including adjacent technology products.
Hardware Beta Test Traits
Hardware Distribution - Unlike software, hardware products must be physically distributed to their pool of participants. This requires highly effective planning and tracking.
Hardware Collection - Most hardware products are collected at the end of a beta test. This step is often the preface to incentive distribution.
Short Projects - Hardware beta tests are generally condensed due to the time necessary to build and receive the beta revision of the hardware, as well as the time to ship it.
Limited Phases - Unlike software, which can be patched throughout a beta, hardware betas are generally limited to one or two phases of beta due to limited hardware supplies.
Limited Beta Product - While software beta test pool sizes are determined by what is considered necessary to accomplish their defined goals, hardware betas pool sizes are generally determined by the number of units physically available and allocated to beta.
Hardware Beta Test Challenges
Logistics Process - While most organizations have a process in place for distributing released products to customers, few have an effective infrastructure for quickly shipping small amounts of unreleased units to users that aren't in their shipping system.
International Distribution - Shipping products internationally is vastly more difficult than shipping within national borders. Many countries have strict regulations regarding the movement of products, which often consume weeks, eliminating huge portions of potential beta test time.
Unit Availability - When initial pre-release yields are not up to expectations, beta is generally one of the first internal groups to lose units. Hardware betas infamously have trouble obtaining enough units to effectively execute a beta test that meets their goals.
Collecting Hardware - Effectively convincing a large pool of candidates to return a product they've grown attached to can be a very challenging task. Often users may be unresponsive, causing you to consume a great deal of unnecessary energy.
Limited Time and Phases - Due to build and shipping delays, hardware beta tests generally have very little time to accomplish their goals. Unlike software, which allows for virtually limitless downloads, due to the requirement for physical units, hardware betas are also generally limited to one or two phases.
High Project Cost - Building and quickly shipping pre-production units is a very expensive process. Often initial builds yield failing units that further increase the cost of the beta. Collecting units creates additional cost.
Product Tracking - The Centercode platform allows you to associate and track information such as product shipping information for each individual user. You can also rank users for future tests based on how quickly they returned units.
Firmware Distribution - Centercode allows you to easily distribute files such as firmware patches, along with simple instructions for users.
Participation Management - Our software allows you to view the real-time participation of your users, along with tools to contact them when they aren't effectively communicating their progress. This is essential for the short time allotments associated with most hardware tests.
Test Platforms - Hardware products often interact with other products. Centercode's Test Platforms functionality allows you to capture information about the products your customers own, helping you recruit appropriate participants and easily troubleshoot their feedback within projects.
Impact Analysis - Our Impact Analysis feature scores feedback based on how impactful it is on the product. This can help you prioritize and manage your feedback quickly during and after the beta test.
Beta Shipping - Our Managed Betas Team has experience and processes for quickly shipping beta units to individuals, both nationally and internationally.
Do More with Less - Our goal is to obtain the most participation possible from the smallest pool of users, while still meeting your project goals. This greatly reduces the units you'll be required to ship, which vastly reduces the cost of the project while ensuring you meet your goals even if your unit allocations are cut.
Condensed Projects - Based on our planning and processes we can effectively run a beta in a much shorter timeframe than you may expect. We can also use our experience to factor in shipping times, unit availability, and expected participation when helping you determine effective goals that will get the most out of the time invested and units provided.
Technical Resources - We have team members who can handle various product related tasks during the planning of the project, as well as at any time during and between phases. These include packaging products, reproducing materials (such as manuals), flashing ROMs with firmware, or other technical activities.
Collecting Hardware - We have a great deal of experience at effectively collecting hardware upon the completion of a beta test. We'll work with your participants to ensure that everything is quickly sent to us, and packaged nicely for shipment to you.