Importance of Use Cases for IoT Solutions

As IoT (Internet of Things) Solution Architects, we need to obtain, analyse, understand, and validate the IoT solution use cases preferably using Design Thinking practices. The validated use cases can be valuable and beneficial for requirement validation and making architectural decisions in the solution life-cycle.

A use case is a specific situation in which a product or service in a solution to be used by the consumers. We develop the use cases from the users’ perspective. For an IoT solution, we need to understand how the consumers are intended to be using a particular component or a specific aspect of the solution. Usually, the functional requirements can help us to formulate the use cases; or, in some circumstances, use cases help formulate the functional requirements. This means that the use cases and solution requirements are interrelated. It is important to note that we need to analyse use cases and requirements together; not in isolation.

Some selected users can help us understand the use cases when we interact with them usually in use case analysis workshops. We need to ask the participating users specific questions and obtain their feedback on how they are intended to use a function that is expected to be in the IoT solution document. We can also ask them the quality of functions which help us understand the non-functional requirements.

In general, overall solution use cases need to be defined and elaborated with the input of all stakeholders of the solution, not just end-users. There may be different use cases for different stakeholders based on the IoT solutions that we architect.

Use cases can also be determined based on the roles and personas involves in developing a solution. Personas represent fictitious characters, which are based on our knowledge of the users in the solution. Identifying personas and the use of them in our use case development and requirements analysis can be very beneficial. Agile methods have a strong focus on the use of personas. Design Thinking practice can be ideal to delve into use cases and map them to both functional and non-functional requirements.

To conclude, the importance of the use cases for IoT solutions, once the use cases are understood, precisely documented, and approved by all the relevant stakeholders, the requirements can be more explicit, decisions can be made more effectively, and the solution building blocks can be developed with more confidence.

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