The cold hard fact is that homeowners and residential applications are being aggressively targeted by ‘smart home’ technology providers. One of the leading elements in the majority of offerings is security, but it is firmly aimed at those who want a ‘lifestyle’ type solution. Is the security industry ready to address customer demands, or is it sleep-walking towards the loss of what could be a lucrative audience for enhanced technological solutions?
he new year saw the launch of a new Bosch business, aimed at serving the smart home sector. The business has not been set up on a whim. Bosch, like Panasonic, Apple, Google, Microsoft and countless other international brand names, is reacting to a significant market shift. Consumers are spending ever increasing amounts on technology for the home; they are also being vociferous about the types of functionality they’re happy to pay for.
These global businesses are not attacking the smart home market as a result of some top secret research. They’re not getting giddy over a few experts suggesting the Internet of Things will take over modern life. They’re not even trying to drive the masses towards their latest gadgets and gizmos. No; they’re reacting to consumer demand. The key word is ‘reacting’.
There might be a nice way to ask the question I’m about to pose. There might be a more politically sensitive way of raising this query. Some might think that I should be more tactful, more polite or even more respectful. However, I don’t think we – as an industry – have time for such behaviour, so here goes.
How hard do we have to kick the backsides of those running this industry for them to wake up and see the reality?
Are they really blind to the sea-change that’s happening in terms of the domestic and residential use of technology? Can they genuinely not understand that people will pay for technologies that fit in with their lifestyles? Are they so arrogant that they think the world will reserve a space for restricted and limited technologies because we tell them we think they’re more secure? Are they deluded into thinking that the very remote chance of a police first response is still enough to guarantee future business? Do they believe for one second that insurers will continue to insist on a regulated alarm system if a customer has technology that increases their overall security?
For many years the security industry has written standards that dictate what technologies the consumers will be allowed to buy. Today, the consumers are writing their own standards. They’re not doing it with committees, or with experts, or with associations and inspectorates. They’re doing it with their wallets and purses (well, credit cards and on-line payments).
Recently, Benchmark sought out opinion on the influence of lifestyle technology in regard to the intruder alarm sector. Amongst those asked for comment where the BSIA, the NSI and the SSAIB. These are organisations involved in the delivery of intruder alarm systems to the residential sector. The influence (and fees) from this sector might be small compared to the commercial market, but surely they’d have some sort of policy or discussion ongoing? For the consumer themselves, they’d be bound to offer guidance, wouldn’t they?
Unfortunately, it appears that the seismic change in attitudes of consumers towards home-related technology doesn’t register with the great and good of our industry.
There is no doubt that IoT and the move towards Smart Homes offers significant business opportunities for installers and integrators. Systems need not be dumbed down; the technology can improve security, so why aren’t we pushing forwards?
At least with their heads buried in the sand, it presents a good target for us to run up and deliver that much needed kick!