Home Smart Home - When it comes to security and home automation, there are a lot of questions homeowners need to ask themselves. Do I want a smart home?

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Dealers can get a running advantage with the right technology, and the right training

When it comes to security and home automation, there are a lot of questions homeowners need to ask themselves. Do I want a smart home? What types of products and benefits would be best for me? And most importantly, where do I start?

Smart home isn’t one-size-fits-all; each home can be customized to fit the homeowner’s wants and needs. Due to a growing interest in home automation, executives at Icontrol Networks say the time is ripe for dealers to jump into the market and set themselves up for success.

Icontrol, based in Redwood City, Calif., expanded its offerings into the security market with a smart home offering that dealers and integrators can deliver along with a robust residential security system.

“Icontrol is a connected home platform provider, offering stable, scalable interactive home security solutions to the home security industry,” said Greg Roberts, vice president of marketing at Icontrol Networks. “With our solutions, the security dealer now has more value than ever over the products they can offer to the consumer.”

A Smart Home is a Secure Home

Icontrol’s smart home platform powers offerings from top-tier companies including ADT (ADT Pulse), Comcast (Xfinity Home), Time Warner Cable (IntelligentHome) and Cox Communications (Cox Homelife), among a list of other well-known providers in the telecom industry. Along with a residential security solution, these companies provide home automation services to their customers. According to Roberts, this is a true value to the dealer network because adding home automation to monitored security offers incremental recurring monthly revenue opportunities, and dealers who get in now can set themselves up for success.

Along with the bigger players in the security/ home automation business, Icontrol stretches its boundaries to reach more than 14,000 independent dealers, most of whom are the traditional “mom and pop” shops. Icontrol’s newest solution, Icontrol One, is the only solution that offers those mom and pop shops the same home automation platform and features of a large service provider solution, but with a business model that is tailored specifically for independent dealers.

“Icontrol One is a hosted solution for dealers so they don’t have to worry about managing the software or dealing with large server infrastructures,” Roberts said. “Data from the devices in the home are securely managed and stored in the cloud.”

Icontrol platform solutions currently manage more than 26 million devices worldwide, including thermostats, motion sensors, door locks, door sensors, video cameras and smoke detectors.

“Our job is to make sure our solutions are the most secure and reliable platforms in the smart home space,” Roberts said.

Bridging Any Gaps

Gartner is predicting a typical family home could contain more than 500 smart devices by 2022, but there is also a chasm to bridge between the early adopters and mainstream consumers. Security and home automation play well together, and make sense together. According to Icontrol’s State of the Smart Home Report, consumers expressed the highest levels of interest in having connect thermostats (72 percent), cameras (65 percent), lights (indoor 69 percent, outdoor 65 percent) and door locks (71 percent). There is a burglary every 14.1 seconds in the United States, and 56 percent of those break-ins are through the front or back door. It only makes sense that connected door locks and home security cameras are at the top of the list for popular connected devices.

Roberts said that an Icontrol One dealer will be able to install a fully monitored security system with home automation devices enabling the homeowner to control and manage everything from a web portal or mobile app. The Icontrol One platform will provide all of the technology, which means the dealer can focus on sales and installations while still serving as the expert to their customers. This also means traditional security solutions have changed.

“Dealers have to offer some level of home automation to stay competitive,” Roberts said. “Make no mistake, security is still the top priority, but lifestyle features can now be easily added to enhance the consumer value.”

You might wonder who is taking advantage of the connected home. According to Icontrol’s research, the smart home is attractive to millennials (79 percent) and parents (76 percent), and interesting enough, 50 percent of the overall population say they are excited about the technology. Additionally, 54 percent of Americans say they plan to purchase at least one smart home product in the next year.

Hidden behind all the really cool equipment is the software platform that directs, well, everything. If there is as problem in the house, a homeowner can see everything that is happening inside and can also use the technology to capture a video clip of the recent activity.

“Today’s lifestyle is an automated world,” said Roberts.

Integration to the Cloud

This means that products can now integrate with an in-home hub or at the cloud level—as many smart home devices are connected to the cloud— and talk to each other. Icontrol solutions also come with the latest encryption technology, and the software platform will allow dealers to integrate multiple devices into the solution; meaning that peripherals will likely come at a lower price point over time.

Last year (2014), personal safety and security was the predominant consumer benefit driving adoption of smart home offerings, and this trend has not wavered. In fact, 90 percent of consumers this year say security is still one of the top reasons to purchase a smart home system.

“People discover more options and uses once they start using the connected home,” said Letha McLaren, chief marketing officer at Icontrol Networks. “Security sells, and dealers have the opportunity to provide additional features to the end user.”

Icontrol also has the best interests of the dealer in mind when it comes to support and training. Their technical staff will provide all the support dealers need in order to offer the latest technology. The Icontrol One solution also comes with a dealer toolkit to help dealers market and sell the products correctly.

“Setting up training with dealers removes all barriers,” McLaren said. “Dealers sign up for our services and we help them with the technology. When we give dealers a demo, there is a lot to get excited about. They see entry into a completely different market.

“Some of our staff have even gone with dealers on a truck roll, learning how they install and maintain a system to help gain industry experience.

“We find that today’s dealer is pretty tech savvy,” McLaren said. “We believe being tech savvy means a quality install and knowing value added products, such as door locks, which offer a huge value proposition for the dealer network and it is one of the top interest points.”

End users may not be ready to receive a text message from their refrigerator, but the first wave of home automation, that includes door locks and thermostats, are ripe for the taking.

“This is a complete lifestyle change,” McLaren said. “We want to make sure the dealer doesn’t overwhelm the end user and still be able to sell security, but with the add-ons of energy management and video.”

Using Smart Devices

A connected device in a smart home can alert the end user about the need for maintenance on a particular facet of the home, though when it comes down to numbers, 70 percent of people are excited about potential cost savings from energy efficiency and monitoring.

“Today’s end user depends upon being connected to ‘things,’” McLaren said. “People expect that, and they expect the dealer to keep up. Security dealers then become home automation dealers.”

It is expected that when a dealer sees a gap in the system, they will be able to turn to Icontrol engineers to resolve an issue. They also expect— and receive—the necessary training to push new products and technology, enabling dealers to expand their business offerings. The truth is the security industry is past the early adopter stage and is the technology layer in the overall picture. Dealers must offer a clear value proposition to the end user. While the marketplace is filled with complicated stuff, many end users already get it and standards for interactivity are high.

“With our Icontrol One platform, dealers will be able to offer the end user interactive features, which they can manage and administrate,” said Paul Dawes, an executive vice president and general manager at Icontrol. “These enhanced features will increase customer satisfaction and retention.”

“Dealers will see exponential growth with the adoption of Icontrol One as end users are starting to demand enhanced features as part of their security system. We make it very easy for dealers to add smart home features to their portfolio, and also provide them with marketing tools they need to sell to their customers.”

At the end of the day, it’s all about offering peace-of-mind and a perceived value. Icontrol focuses on creating value for the customer, with creative solutions for security dealers to deliver it.

Consumers who know someone with a smart home are significantly more likely to be interested in home automation compared to those who have never seen the technology in action, a sign that seeing really is believing when it comes to the smart home. End users should never overlook the importance of security, which has historically been the reason to buy a smart home in the first place. While security remains the core reason smart home adoption, connected devices in the home are finding their way into the mix.

Technology makes everyday things that seem complex simpler than ever before. The homeowners experience must be easy and intuitive; ease-of-use enhances the ownership experience. Dealers must understand that as end users engage a smart home in action, they are more likely to get excited about the technology, and show it to others firsthand.

While consumers are poised to take action, the dealer network has limited time to become exposed and educated about all the offerings. Once the buyer is ready, the dealer must be prepared to pounce on the opportunity. So dealers, talk to your smart home provider and find your “in” with the connected home to maximize success.

This article originally appeared in the November 2015 issue of Security Today.

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