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Test Planning

Technographics: Your Shortcut to Improving Interoperability

February 5, 2021

With consumers adopting more and more smart tech, the everyday spaces of your customers has become an interoperability minefield. The key to navigating that minefield without a performance blowup? Tapping into an aspect of growing importance within the realm of beta testing: technographics.

Today we’re talking technographics — what they are, why they matter, who they benefit, and how using them improves your testing efficiency and product performance.

What are technographics?

“Technographics” is a mash-up of “technology” and “demographics” — together, it describes your customers’ tech stacks. In the context of customer testing, this type of segmentation lets you select testers based on the details of their unique tech ecosystems. Some examples would be the make of their security systems, which phone models they own, or the current software version of their smart speakers.

Who benefits from using technographics?

Anyone who makes technology that interacts with other devices their customers own.

Whether you’re building hardware or software, phones or mobile apps, headsets for business professionals or connected toys for kids, understanding the technographics of your audience is vital to improving the performance of your products.

Why are technographics important?

  1. Greater Use Case Coverage
    Using technographics during recruitment means greater coverage when it comes to testing interoperability and product performance. You’ll be able to test your product in hundreds of live technical environments at once. With real-world insights on your side, the time-consuming and complicated guesswork of improving interoperability is behind you.
  2. More Specificity in Issue Tracking
    A great product built by a talented team of engineers is still going to have its fair share of issues — that’s just a fact. And those issues aren’t going to affect all of your customers equally, either.Say you’re testing out your true wireless earbuds and about half of your customers can’t sync them with their phones. Yikes. Without technographics, the story ends there; you now have to begin the exhausting process of following up with hundreds of testers to figure out common causes. But by collecting that technographic data ahead of time, you’d be able to see almost immediately that your Android users had no problems while iPhone users couldn’t connect at all. Cool — set a meeting with your iOS team and get to work.
  3. Improved Issue Prioritization
    That enhanced technographic visibility into your product’s real-world performance? It also helps you prioritize issues. This is huge for your engineering and QA teams — using a combination of technographic data and feedback scoring to rank the impact of incoming issues lets them put out the biggest fires first.

When do you collect technographic data?

While you can technically gather this information from your testers at any time, the most convenient place to collect technographic data is during beta recruitment. Here are a few of the best practices that the Centercode team uses.

  • Look at your audience segments before recruitment begins. Demographics and geographics often make it into requirements, but don’t neglect your technological demands. Need testers with a broadband internet connection at home? Write it down. Sometimes needs are simple — an equal number of Apple and PC users, for example. Or maybe they’re more complex, like 25% of testers should own a specific smart oven.
  • Divide your list into must-haves and nice-to-haves.
    Recruitment is a lot like online dating — the more specific your requirements are, the harder it’s going to be to find someone who fits the bill. While your heart isn’t necessarily on the line when it comes to tester recruitment, it’s good to go forward with a few nice-to-haves and absolute dealbreakers top of mind.
  • Build your technographic specifications into your qualification survey.
    The right testers for your project aren’t only going to be excited to test your product — they’ll also fit the necessary requirements (and maybe a few nice-to-haves) to give you the robust, actionable insights you need. The best way to discover the testers who fit that bill is to use a qualification survey to screen them during the application process. We’ve got more detailed guidelines about writing a qualification survey on the Centercode Blog.

How do technographics look in practice?

Yes, there are still some Windows phone users out there!

In practice, technographics make incoming tester data clearer and your beta tests easier to manage overall. You have a clear path for following up with impacted testers, letting unaffected testers focus on what they do best, and giving your dev team the information they need to implement fixes, make adjustments, and refine your product.

Where can I get the tools to start using technographics?

Technically speaking, you don’t need anything special to get started with technographics. But in our two decades of experience, these practices are much easier to implement regularly with beta testing tools that streamline both recruitment and test management. And as beta testing tools come, nothing beats the Centercode Platform.

How does it support technographics? The Test Platforms feature allows and encourages testers to tell you about the technology in their lives. Testers can create a test platform for each piece of tech in their homes that’s relevant to your product. This makes it easy to refine your tester selection and identify the best candidates for every project. And the platform’s built-in nurturing automation reminds testers to update their test platforms on whatever cadence you choose. See the test platforms and automation in action by scheduling a platform demo today.

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