Alicia Dixon has over a decade of experience building consumer and enterprise technology solutions, which evolved into a specialization in mobile apps. She enjoys focusing on new product development, product strategy, and market research. Alicia has held positions at leading companies including Hilton, UPS & Dell. She is a proud alumnus of Howard University where she earned her Bachelor’s degree. In addition, she holds an MBA from Baruch College, CUNY and an MS in Marketing from the University of Alabama.
So Alicia, tell us about your favorite product and the problem it solves.
I really thought about this and what I keep coming back to as truly my favorite product is the Wake-up Light by Philips, which I have had for years. It is a lamp that simulates the sun rising in the morning to wake you up. In the winter time when it’s still dark outside, it will gradually turn a light on inside my room, simulating the sun. It starts off really dim and then gradually gets brighter. It also has three different alarm sounds, the bird sound being my favorite. The reason why I love the Wake-up Light is that it will wake me up without the jarring sound that a regular alarm makes. You wake up feeling refreshed. Before I had this light, I had a hard time waking up when it was still dark out. Even now, when I don’t have it – for instance, when I travel – I definitely feel a difference.
What delights you about Wake-up Light? What does it do well?
Well, by comparison, I ordered a cheaper and newer model from Amazon and it only projects forward. The Wake-up Light has 360 degree direction so light projects throughout the room. The Philips Wake-up Light has a really good design and is aesthetically pleasing. It fits into the room without being ostentatious. It’s sitting on my nightstand and almost looks like a candle so no one asks “What the heck is that thing?” I like the functionality and design of this product plus it works well. I’ve had it for more than a decade and haven’t had to replace the lamp, only a lightbulb here and there.
This product is very simplistic and I commend Philips for not trying to throw extra features in. It has three chimes, a clock, a radio and obviously the light. They could have tried to do more, maybe with syncing or a more advanced display interface, but they didn’t. They kept it simple and solved the problem it was supposed to solve. They made sure their product did it’s job.
Product Managers love feedback. What feedback would you give to the team at Philips?
There are two drawbacks to the product. One, if the power goes out the backup battery won’t last all night so I’d give it a better backup battery. The second is there’s a switch on the side. This switch is used for snoozing and deactivating the alarm. In trying to snooze it’s very possible to turn off the alarm when you’re half-asleep. However, they say snoozing is unhealthy so perhaps the designer didn’t want to put a lot of work into promoting a bad habit [laughs].
As a product person, what elements of the Philips Wake-up Light have you incorporated into your work?
The main principle I try to follow is to not over-design. Make sure you solve the problem without overdoing it. It’s always tempting to do something new, but how much will it add to the product? I work with a mobile consumer-facing app and get a lot of feedback from different people. In trying to build a product, it’s important to focus on a core constituency and not outliers. If someone doesn’t know how to use general features of a mobile device, then my app isn’t going to help them. You have to remain focused on solving a problem for a specific group of people to be successful in product management.
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