How Return-Tech Will Define New Product Development

Solving Emerging Product Problems During COVID-19

This report uses the Product Thinking approach to show how user needs, desires, and jobs to be done are shifting as a result of the global lockdown. Beginning with 12 theses on our view of how Return-Tech will affect product development across industries, we then dive into 15 shifts, unearthed through research and product foresight, offering up provocative questions designed as a jumping off point for new product discovery. 


Our Return-Tech Theses

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About the Contributors

Katie Hill, Author

Katie is a Senior Design Researcher with an insatiable curiosity for understanding how culture and technology come together to shape human experiences. Katie has helped to clients to identify opportunities, imagine concepts, and realize innovative products across media, automotive, transportation, financial services, healthcare, and nonprofit sectors. Katie’s favourite Return-Tech product is her Nest thermostat, which she can adjust from her kitchen table-turned-desk to stay comfortable during Remote Collaboration sessions.

Kama Kaczmarczyk, Author

Kama, a Senior Design Researcher and Strategist, provides a deep and multidisciplinary expertise building on her degree in Industrial Design with focus on strategic foresight (OCADU) and over 8 years of experience working in various industries including finance, consumer products, and micro mobility. Kama’s favorite Return-Tech product is a fitness app called obé, which allows her to download workouts to do at the beach, but also follow a cardio boxing routine at home, giving her the flexibility of Quarantainment with a twist.

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Senior Design Researcher

Senior Design Researcher

Amina Saigol, Author

Product Strategist

Amina is a Product Strategist at Connected with a passion for human-centric design and innovation. Amina has worked across industries like consumer electronics, finance, retail, telecommunications, health, and even pet care, helping clients explore, uncover, and validate new product opportunities with a focus on bringing them to market. Amina’s favorite Return-Tech product is her local parks app that allows her to book time slots to go hiking when it’s less busy, helping her be Social-at-a-Distance.

Dominic Smith, Author

Content Marketing Manager

Dominic is a writer and strategist, who has worked throughout his career to bring to light insights and opportunities that drive sustainable long-term growth. His work looks beyond sectors, focusing on the individual wants and desires of people that ultimately form the trends, behaviours, and landscape of the world we live in. Dominic’s favourite Return-Tech product is Audible, which he uses when running, walking, or driving to ‘read’ even more and keep Quarantained.

Mike Stern, Author


Mike is the CEO of Connected and is passionate about building the next generation of product development leaders. Mike’s product development experience spans a variety of industries, technologies and geographies. Previously he worked in venture, NGO, k-12 education and live event production. Mike’s favourite return-tech product is the Facebook Portal, a product that helps him ‘feel closer’ to and be Virtually Together with his friends and family during a time of physical-distance.

Jesse Ambramson, Contributor

Engineering Manager

Jesse is an Engineering Manager with over a decade of production full-stack development. With experience in the tech behind an array of industries from finance to telecommunications, he has expertise with creating web applications from the ground up and the architecture behind them. Jesse’s favourite Return-Tech product is VrChat, a VR application that allows him to be Virtually Together with others in safe but also new interesting ways.

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About Connected

Connected is a software product development firm. We partner with ambitious companies across the entire product development lifecycle, whether it's identifying opportunities and validating product concepts or releasing products and optimizing in market.

Successful product development requires solving for desirability, viability, feasibility, and usability together, not separately. That’s why we bring engineers, strategists, and designers together, blending discovery and delivery activities at every possible step to think holistically about product. It is this “connectedness” and product-thinking approach, regardless of the stage in the product development lifecycle, that enables us to drive true impact.

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David Das, Contributor

Software Engineer

David is a Software Engineer with a diverse range of experience across industries and technologies, such as mobile apps, in-store virtual shopping assistants, and video calling devices. David's favourite Return-Tech product is Netflix Party, which has allowed him to keep Quarantained while Virtually Together with his friends and family. 

Katie Luke, Designer

Marketing Graphic Designer

Katie is an award-winning Graphic Designer with a passion for illustration and package design. With every project, Katie aims to grow the Connected brand and help more organizations build better products. Her ability to work in a fast-paced work environment comes from her variety of experience in the television and film industry, from designing props to set decorating. Her favourite Return-Tech product is Cornershop, a grocery delivery app that allows her to get all the food she needs with safer and Smarter Delivery.


Return-Tech is an acute need to bridge us into a new normal

Return-Tech can bring new
relevance to existing tech

Return-Tech is a sizable and complex opportunity space

Return-Tech bridges digital 
with the new physical


Return-Tech embeds health 
and wellness


Return-Tech emphasizes scalability, resilience, and security


Return-Tech means hyper-impact: speed and ROI


Return-Tech accelerates structural shifts in traditional industries


Return-Tech is foundational, not a fad


Return-Tech anticipates the future by building for right now


Return-Tech will change product development projects already underway


Return-Tech pioneers will lead in the new normal