Parks Associates wrapped up the 25th year of the CONNECTIONS™ conference this week with two days of virtual sessions: Smart Home: Bridging Platforms and Changing the Experience, Privacy and Security, Europe and Smart Home, Insurance and the Smart Home. Here are some important takeaways from the speakers in each session.
Smart Home: Bridging Platforms and Changing the User Experience
- Consumers do not desire the same smart home experience. They are split into two large buckets. One-half wants to have control of their smart home devices at their fingertips. The other half wants advanced automation that allows them to set it and forget it. Brands must accommodate both types of consumers
- We can measure the quality of the user experience by usage of smart home products and services. Consumers are likely to use a product more if their experience with it is good. Ongoing communication from a brand as well as having multiple user-interface options will also drive higher product use.
- Moving away from DIY to the pro channel is going to be very important to drive better product experiences. Pros will serve as consultants to help customers identify needs and the ways in which smart home products can help to solve those needs. Pros must also have ongoing conversations with homeowners to reevaluate changing smart home needs.
Security and Privacy
- Device manufacturers are still not building in the appropriate level of security to comprehensively protect smart home customers. Many brands do not have the expertise and budget to build high levels of security into their products.
- Recent Parks Associates research shows that consumers 18 to 24 years old are less likely to have high concerns about data security and privacy. These concerns are likely lower because these consumers have grown up as “Digital Natives” and are accustomed to high levels of data transfer. One panelist highlighted that online data security is now being taught in some schools. Therefore, younger generations will be more savvy about protecting their data and less likely to be concerned about data security.
- Companies that demonstrate that they are responsible about keeping consumer data safe will gain consumers’ trust. This will not only encourage product sales in the short term, but that trust can also be leveraged to expand the lifetime value of the customers.
- Cybersecurity certification such as that from UL and ioXt will help drive consumer trust in smart home products. It is important that these certification systems are easy for consumers to understand so they know what they are buying into.
Europe and Smart Home
- The UK and Germany are ahead of the curve with smart home adoption in Europe. Together these countries make up about 50% of the total European smart home market. The European market is now about 80% of the US market. The markets in Turkey and Poland are showing highest growth (Source: Nice).
- Energy management is one of the fastest growing smart home segments in Europe, driven by increasing sensitivity to sustainability, increasing cost of energy, and government incentives for improved energy management.
- One smart home energy management use case gaining importance in Europe is the coordination of motion and occupancy sensing with the use of lights and heating and cooling systems to save energy.
Insurance and the Smart Home
- The insurance industry is taking a more preventative approach to protecting the home, and smart home devices will play a key role in that.
- State regulators play a key role in insurance companies’ ability to integrate smart home products into their services. Some states are aggressive about smart home device integration, others are waiting for more data to determine the actual impact on risk. Some regulators are concerned about insurance companies not pricing risk reduction accurately and over-discounting services that integrate smart home products.
- Data is key for insurance companies to make good decisions about which smart home products to integrate into their services. Accessibility to reliable, good-quality data will allow companies to assess risk and price services accurately. Having large amounts of devices in the home and comprehensive data on claims will drive insurance companies’ assessment efforts.
To attend or participate in upcoming Parks Associates events, please visit parksassociates.com for our 2022 schedule. Look out for upcoming research on data security and privacy in the connected home for additional consumer insights. Parks Associates will also publish a study in the coming months titled All Apps Aren’t Equal: Smart Home User Experiences that provides in-depth insight on smart home user experiences.