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HOME NEWS Analysis › From connected devices to smart home solutions

From connected devices to smart home solutions

by Stuart Wilson, Tuesday 2 December 2014

Persuading European consumers to invest in smart home solutions has been a tough challenge for the industry to date, but a new breed of connected devices and point solutions could help trigger a mass market breakthrough. Speaking at a recent connected home conference, Greg Roberts, VP marketing at connected home platform provider Icontrol Networks, said: “We are now seeing compelling connected devices in the market – point solutions. These may not connect with other devices but it is a chance for customers to get their feet wet in terms of smart home technologies.”

In addition to a compelling product proposition, the smart home sector is also evolving to ensure it creates sufficient channel reach to consumers. Roberts added: “Icontrol has direct channels to end-users via retail and online. We have all-in-one devices that provide instant value to consumers. Products that can help to meet the smart home demand that we are all trying to generate in the market. We do need to enhance the ecosystem of devices that are available in the industry.”

Players in the connected home space are aware that they need to work together to provide a simple and clearly understandable message to consumers regarding the benefits of smart solutions.

Jon Carter, UK head of connected home business development at Deutsche Telekom, commented: “We need to meet real consumer needs with a simple and compelling proposition. We need to engage with the market and customers. Today, we haven’t scratched the surface in terms of the business models needed in this market.”

As service providers, platform providers and product vendors assess the European market opportunity, they are looking to learn lessons from their experience in the US market to date.

Roberts added: “We layered smart home technologies on to monitored security and that made it easier for customers to adopt in the US market. I think the European market needs to find that usage case that really speaks to the masses.”

Consumer education

“We are starting to see consumer education in North America and there is a tremendous opportunity to start doing that in Europe now as well,” he explained. “We have built the products but have not seen widespread adoption. It is about consumer education and the go-to-market strategy. In the US telecoms operators, security companies, cable operators all marketing connected home solutions but people are still not getting the message.”

The consumer proposition must remain simple, regardless of the sales channel used to reach the end customer. Carter explained: “If you complicate this, you can lose customers very quickly. We need to make sure it is a clear story from the retail agent. Go-to-market strategy is absolutely critical. From the UK perspective we are looking at a broad range of channels including the assisted-sell channel.”

Consumer education will become a driver for adoption in Europe. At present, there are still significant obstacles and barriers to overcome to create increased demand.

Roberts explained: “There is a case of low awareness and also consumer friction points. Consumers think, ‘I don’t understand it, I don’t understand the benefits, I’m scared of installing it myself’. That is the beauty of service providers that can assist in terms of smart home offerings.”

“There are smart home solutions sitting on retailers’ shelves in the US and Europe gathering dust because the consumers just don’t understand it and don’t know how to install it. They don’t understand the support mechanisms that are available to them. That will change, but it will take time,” he added.

The arrival of major brands as active players in the smart home space could act as a catalyst for increased consumer adoption. With significant brand equity, consumers may be more likely to splash the cash on a solution from a major brand.

Roberts added: “Consumers will have greater propensity to buy solutions from Apple and Google because people trust the brands to deliver what they promise and they have the marketing power as well. Consumer education is going to help everyone in the industry.”

“We all need to work together broaden the use cases for connected home and make sure there is one interface and everything works with each other. It’s the key point the industry really has to embrace,” he concluded.

Smart Channels Summit

DISTREE Events has launched a new summit series focused on how the retail channel will evolve to deliver smart technologies, solutions and services to consumers. The new session, entitled ‘Smart Channels: Retailing Connected Devices, Wearables and Internet of Things (IoT)’. The ‘Smart Channels’ summit series will continue at DISTREE EMEA in Monaco from 24-27th February 2015. Channel EMEA is a Global Media Partner of DISTREE Events.

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