28 Sep

Consumers Need to Feel the Value of Smart or Connected Home Technology before we Move to Mass Market Adoption

Presciense attended the Smart Home Summit this week. It was a great event for us, with lots of interest in our SMETS2 In-Home Display and Smart Router demos. I thought it would be interesting to pass on some of my observations, particularly around how consumers will move from early adopter phases to this becoming a mass market adoption.

Most of the discussion could be broken down into the following 3 main points:

1. Consumers need to be comfortable with using smart capabilities before rolling out additional Smart Home services

Companies need to start by providing subscribers with smart control and integrated access for all of their existing services, in a consistent manner, through a single application, and supporting devices deployed today such as broadband routers and smart meters. That will allow consumers to become accustomed to using smart features, have confidence in the security and appreciate the value of these capabilities before rolling additional Smart Home products or services.

2. Consumers need to understand the value of a Smart Home and how it benefits their lives and/or pocket

Smart Home technology is great, but consumers want to know how it will make their life simpler, more comfortable, safer, more secure, save them money or free up their time? We try to focus on real world use cases and customer journey such as:

  • Grandmother is at home, looking after the grandchildren and can’t log in to WiFi, so rings her son-in-law, who remotely enables this for her on his smart router
  • There is a burst pipe under the bath, an alert from the water sensor is sent to the home owner on the bus, who then arranges for an emergency plumber to meet him when he returns home
  • A motion sensor is triggered, alerting the home owner and next door neighbour who can respond

For the service provider there is also a clear opportunity to provide a service where they respond on behalf of the consumer in certain situations.

Retailers like John Lewis are trying to help create that feeling of how the smart home will provide value, in stores such as the one in Oxford Street, where they are showcasing a smart home for consumers to walk around and experience. Maplin is refreshing their stores and putting smart home devices for people to play with, rather than just seeing them in a box on the shelf. So these companies are helping communicate that value in a very real and physical way.

3. Consumers want the Smart Home to be simple to install, configure and use

The devices need to be easy to install. That is the role of the manufacturers of the different smart home devices - to make the products easy to use and intuitive. But it also requires the people selling the solution to look at installation, training and maintenance requirements of the different devices on offer.

The more those issues are made easy for the customer, the more likely they are to adopt. One gentleman who is an installer commented that asking someone to install all these devices is like asking someone to put together a car. He believes that it needs more support than that.

Whatever the view on this, it needs to be thought through. On the retailer panel, the retailers said that they were not so focused on providing the full solution – as they are more about selling goods to people online or in store and less set up to provide a service. Utilities companies are also looking at selling these and offering it more as a full solution.

Whoever sells it, it does need to be all tied up. You have three elements.

  1. The product devices and platforms they connect to
  2. How they are installed
  3. How they are supported

All need to tie up and feed back into each other to help this move from what is still early adopter phase, to mass market popularity.