Microsoft Firenze|BXT Competition

tags: research, synthesis, sketching/illustration, presentation, video, web

Date: 2010 November - 2011 February
Audience: Microsoft
Teammates: Chong Han Chua (HCI/CS), Jeff Mataya (MBA), Safwan Samla (MBA)

Artifacts from my participation in the Microsoft Firenze|BXT competition while studying at CMU. I led our team's research and synthesis, worked with an HCI grad student on wireframing and concept development, developed personas, collaborated on assembling the slide deck and doing information design/visualization, and created the video sketch (as well as all the included hand-drawn/visual illustrations).

The Project All teams were given live business cases with which to work; CMU's was to improve consumer productivity among young and tech-connected families, aged 26-44. We had to create a "soulful" product concept with a nuanced user experience, a technical implementation analysis, and a plausible business model and monetization analysis.

About the competition Microsoft Firenze|BXT is a cross-disciplinary competition that brings together students from various fields to develop a product concept together. The university round of Firenze began in November 2010. My teammates represented each of the three disciplines embodied in this competition: Chong Han (HCI/Technology), Jeff (MBA/Business), and Safwan (MBA/Business). I represented the Experience portion of our team, though Chong Han and I worked closely together on that. We all participated to work with people from other fields and to break out of our "departmental silos."

Out of 10 CMU teams, ours ended up winning, and in early February 2011 we spent a weekend in Redmond, Washington, to compete against/work with teams from Cornell, OSU, UMich, and NYU. That weekend—and the entire competition—was such a tremendous (and intense) experience. I learned so much, made some wonderful contacts, and really feel like I pushed myself and grew. I feel truly honored to have made it that far. Our Redmond team didn't win the grand prize, but our CMU team had not even entered for the purpose of winning. It was all about the experience.

My role in Redmond At the finals, I once again led the brainstorming (affinity diagrams, whiteboarding, and generally keeping the discussion focused on the user experience), ideation, and user research, ensuring that all my teammates were involved, and created the visuals and a slide template.

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