Iâ€™m an early smart home adopter.
I accept the devices without benefit because itâ€™s fun. I wave off obvious glitches and issues like a new mom waves off comments that she has an ugly baby.
The first wave of smart home settlers, me included, have plowed through the prairie. The rest of the world? They tried to follow, but realised that living with smart things creates headaches without outweighing benefits.
Argus Insights, a consumer research company, reports that demand for smart home products has actually fallen byÂ 15% this past year.
Should we throw our hands up in the air and bury the idea of home automation next to Sonyâ€™s Aibo dogÂ or the Minidisc?
To quote Sun Tzu:Â In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.
Home security installer? Youâ€™re a tech company now
According to data from ABI Research, â€œthe global sensor and device market for home security and automation is expected to grow from $1.4bn in 2015 to $4bn in 2019.
If you want to be left behind, ignore the smart home market. OneÂ installer told IFSEC Global thatÂ â€œinstallers face a simple choice: move up from alarm installer to another level, or the IT companies and home automation companies will just add â€˜alarm installerâ€™ to their bow.â€
They couldnâ€™t be more right. They are coming for you and it will be fast and furious. In some ways the takeover is already in progress, Best Buy has Geek Squad, Wink has Pro.com, Lowes has Porch.com and Samsungâ€™s SmartThings has been talking about ways to bundle in services for at least a year.
Why not flip the game upside down?
A recent study by Parks Associates showed that of the homes surveyed without a security system, 20-40% said they would adopt one WITH smart home features. And Loweâ€™s 2014 Smart Home SurveyÂ Â revealed that 62% of Americans find the smart home most beneficial for monitoring safety and security.
Consumers want a smart home and the gateway drug is home security. There is opportunity for those willing to embrace technology. But first, we need to address the challenges stifling smart home growth.
CHALLENGE ONE: There are security issues with smart things.
One of the primary issues facing the home automation market is security.Â Engadget has warned thatÂ â€˜The Internet of Things isnâ€™t Safeâ€™,Â Naked Security, echoed this saying â€˜Hacked: yup, even your skateboard isnâ€™t safeâ€™ andÂ Wired reported thatÂ â€œHacked Fridges Arenâ€™t the Internet of Thingsâ€™ Biggest Worryâ€™.
In my head the solution is simple. Consumers need to secure their network, create challenging passwords, and keep their firmware up to date. Easy, right?
Itâ€™s not easy to the average consumer whose password is 123456 and whose refrigerator is now being attacked by Russian hackers.
CHALLENGE TWO: You want a monthly revenue stream
You want a monthly revenue stream off of a market with a strong DIY undercurrent? Unrealistic.
What is realistic is understanding the challenge and identifying an alternate solution that is a win for consumers and a win for you. Consumers are frustrated with products we market as plug and play.
Earlier Argus Insights research revealedÂ that most consumer animosity arose from the frustrating and time-consuming challenges of connecting devices to the home WiFi network.
A study by Parks Associate suggested that â€œservice providers can shift to business models that are indirectly consumer funded. Advertising, lead generation, participating in energy markets, and in-app product sales allow service providers to collect recurring revenue, but not in the form of a monthly fee paid by the consumer.â€
Customers donâ€™t want to call an installer back every time they want to make a change; they want to own the smart home. They want it to feel DIY, which eliminates the value in a monthly fee.
CHALLENGE THREE: You donâ€™t want to install the sexy devices
In June 2015, 165,000 people searched Google for â€˜Nest Thermostatâ€™, 201,000 for â€˜Dropcamâ€™, and 40,500 for â€˜SmartThingsâ€™. These devices, and others, are trendy. People want them. Are you installing them?
ADT is paving the way through their partnership with Nest and IFTTT. They understand that in order to stay relevant, they need to partner with the cool kids instead of viewing them as the enemy.
CHALLENGE FOUR: Consumer donâ€™t know who you are
The market is wide open. Though there are options, can you name one single installer thatâ€™s owning the smart home market? I canâ€™t, though it seems like broadband companies are making a bit ofÂ headway.
The perception of smart home integrators is that:
1. Theyâ€™re expensive and focus on luxury home projects.
2. They use proprietary software and equipment.
Is this a perception issue? A marketing issue? A market gap? What say you?
I say integrators have a unique opportunity. The desire is there and people are learning that piecing together a smart home platform is not as easy as it looks. Consumers want simple and they arenâ€™t getting it.