A Few Considerations for the Smart Home Journey

by Patrice Samuels | Oct. 27, 2015

Last week, I was among the diverse group of patrons who attended the Broadband World Forum in London. The conference hosted fixed, mobile and cable operators from several global markets; national and international governments; and leading solution providers (among others). I moderated and listened to several debates on the key strategies to achieve success in the connected home. Here are a few key takeaways.

The smart home must evolve to become more integrated– All agree that integrated services are ideal for the smart home and will provide consumers with the most value. Yet, currently, a vast number of diverse players serve in the space. The smart home must, therefore, evolve to provide consumers with unified services.

Integration in the smart home will not be achieved with one winning protocol – Many have argued that the use of a common standard/protocol in smart home products will solve the interoperability challenges that plague smart home services; many have also been betting on the protocol that will achieve this.  Industry players are, however, changing their tune on this matter, purporting that it is too late in the game for all smart home products and systems to be built using a single protocol. Integration efforts must focus on achieving device and system interoperability, given the use of different protocols/standards. The onus is on consumer electronics manufacturers to ensure that products and systems are built with open APIs and features that promote interoperability.

Increase adoption of smart home systems by finding the right gateway services –Smart home system providers are coming to the realization that one factor leading to poor market penetration of smart home services is that the average consumer is not ready for the wholesale changes that are currently being presented with smart home systems and services. Some now advocate for go-to-market strategies that take a gradual approach—introducing consumers to systems with limited functionality, then gradually adding features as consumer become accustomed to automating various aspects of home control. The use-cases for these introductory services must have high appeal within the given market.  In Switzerland, for example, where home security is of high concern, market entry can start with smart home security systems. New service features can then be gradually introduced as consumers become accustomed to having and using the systems.

Superior customer experiences are critical to achieving growth in smart home markets – Providers emphasize the importance of intuitive user-interfaces, hassle-free set-up, and user-friendly products to achieve success with any smart home product or service. The need for superior customer experiences is even more pronounced if go-to-market strategies involve the gradual addition features to an existing service. Support must, therefore, be a critical part of brand strategy to ensure superior product experiences.

Consider support strategies from product inception– The debate on how to achieve superior product experiences is ongoing.  Some argue that measures to ensure product reliability and interoperability must be designed into the product. Others believe that all the possible issues cannot be anticipated at product inception and stringent product testing and training of support personnel will help to achieve the best product experiences. 

Parks Associates will host executive from various global markets at the CONNECTIONS™ Europe event, November 10 and 11 in Amsterdam. The conference will feature similar discussions on growth strategies for the smart home and Internet of Things (IoT) markets.

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