Develop a new GPS device for the company. Rand McNally had entered into the GPS market four years prior, but ownership was unwilling to make the financial commitment to the development effort. This new device would target the niche trucking industry which was not caught by the economic downturn with an abundance of inventory on the shelves. Rand had the opportunity to be the leader in this niche and is already a leader with rating and routing products as well as the Rand Truckers Atlas.
Our new CEO was tasked with turning Rand McNally into a technology company. He looked to me for guidance and the ability to get the job done. We agreed that we needed to move back into the GPS market and do it quickly. We decided to introduce a new GPS product prototype at the upcoming 2009 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), just 45 days away.
Design, develop and deploy an attractive new GPS unit with Truck specific routing capabilities, utilizing Rand McNally proprietary truck attribute data.
I was tasked, as the project owner, with creating a new product from scratch that could be shown and demonstrated at the 2009 CES show in January 2009. We assembled a team of designers, developers, sales and marketing professionals from around the company and scheduled daily war-room meetings to accomplish:
- Choosing a target market for the product
- Developing a sales strategy
- Developing a marketing strategy
- Choosing an industrial design
- Designing a user interface
- Partnering with a software developer
- Partnering with a hardware manufacturer
- Producing a prototype unit for display at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show
The sales and marketing teams took off with developing target markets and sales strategies. After looking at the consumer GPS market, its overabundance of inventory in the market and its low margins, the team identified the trucking industry as an untapped opportunity that still commanded decent margins in the market and was difficult to enter without good truck-related data.
Dave Marsh, an ex-Rand employee, working with us as a consultant served as our product manager. He worked tirelessly to develop the product features with the teams. Andreas Hecht joined the team mid project and took over sales and marketing activities.
We were already working with Infogation, a software company located in San Diego that specializes in routing software, regarding other routing product opportunities. When we discussed being ready with a truck routing product for CES, Kent Pu, President of Infogation said they would be ready. His team worked with our software and cartographic teams to design a new routing process and integrate our truck specific information into their software. No easy feat!
On a recommendation from Infogation, the Rand purchasing team and I started discussions with Kevin Chen, President and co-owner of Vio Technologies. Kevin worked tirelessly with us to pick and design an attractive GPS device that could be ready for CES in time.
Our design group, headed by Joerg Metzner worked tremendous hours way beyond what anyone would have expected, through the holidays to develop a User Interface that was appealing and usable and our QA teams worked to test and provide feedback to the development teams.
This was a team effort, and the entire team worked through the holidays to be ready for the show on January 10. Everything came together and we were ready with the new devices just one day before the show! Dave and I spent all night at the hotel prepping the devices for display and demonstrations.
We delivered a new 4.3” and 5.0” unit to the Navteq team who featured the Rand Intelliroute TND 500 in their display at CES.
The show was a huge success for us. The press feedback was all positive and reassuring. The production unit was delivered to stores in Fall 2009 and most recently won the CES “Best of Innovations” award for the 2010 show.
The fun video below was filmed during the show and presented to the team during our after show celebration.