What Businesses Need to Consider When Preparing for IoT
Internet of Things (IoT) technologies are empowering consumers with products and services they simply couldn’t have imagined a few years ago.
- By Raoul Wijgergangs
- Aug 03, 2017
Internet of Things (IoT) technologies are empowering consumers with products and services they simply couldn’t have imagined a few years ago. However, consumer confusion about exactly what constitutes a ‘smart home’ still remains a barrier to entry. Despite this confusion, consumers are more aware of the benefits smart home IoT technologies can provide but they don’t always know where to start. Homeowners are turning to their service providers and security dealers to guide them through the smart home landscape and act as the homeowners’ trusted experts. According to Parks Associates, over 80% of U.S. security dealers are currently installing or offering smart home devices as part of their services. Consumers are motivated to add smart home technology to their home because of the promise for: savings, safety, convenience, and control, but home security remains the number one smart home consumer driver.
Becoming an expert in IoT isn’t just a good way to form new revenue-generating relationships for security dealers, it also allows security dealer businesses to increase customer retention, offer new services, and save money. As IoT technologies evolve to empower consumers more tools are becoming available to make installation and deployment easier and more efficient and save businesses time and money.
For today’s security dealer and integrator, there are a number of factors that can contribute to prolonged time on-site. Unnecessary truck rolls and extra time at a job site affect the dealer’s bottom line. The Technology Service Industry Association estimates the cost of a standard truck roll to be $1,000 or more each time. There are several factors that are critical for success when it comes to cost and time-effective specification, the installation and maintenance of smart home security, and the continued evolution of IoT.
The technology that a dealer is installing must have a big ecosystem of diverse products from reputable companies and brands to offer multiple use case solutions, use best-of-breed product and provide consumers with choice.
By working with technology that breeds an interoperable ecosystem, such as Z-Wave – security dealers and integrators can enjoy a bigger selection of products from different manufacturers that offer the customer greater flexibility. This can also be satisfying to an end-customer if, for example, they prefer one door lock vendor over another. When both options work exactly the same way with the rest of the system, the integrator can offer the choice without concern about integration.
Interoperability also enables the installation to scale seamlessly, not only by size, but by application. Using mesh networks, such as Z-Wave, installers can take advantage of benefits from future products by adding them into the system as they become available which continue to strengthen the network. With Z-Wave, today’s security systems can keep guard over potential water damage through smart valves, manage electrical consumption though smart AC outlets, and manage ambient lighting with smart window and skylight controls. Not every customer will want all these features initially, but many become interested in additional features over time. By offering a wide variety of smart devices in so many applications, the customer can request to have their systems built up over time, and the installer can build revenues accordingly.
According to Parks Associates, 40% of consumers are concerned with the safety and security of their smart home devices, especially door locks and access control systems. Local experts need to provide consumers peace of mind when selling smart home solutions and confidently ensure that the products they are installing are low-risk. They should look for systems that require strong encryption and high levels of security not just for each individual device, but for all the devices in the network and the entire system. The new security framework for the Z-Wave ecosystem, S2 is one advancement being made within the industry to address consumer concerns of security. Developed in cooperation with cyber security experts, the framework enables the highest-levels of security to be implemented across the entire ecosystem and network with no overhead in terms of latency and power consumption. Security dealers should educate their customers and help them choose products that are going to bring the highest level of security to their home.
Today, in a typical smart home installation, technicians may spend a couple of hours validating component functionality, integrating components and configuring scenes, rules and scripts. Providers should constantly be on the lookout for new tools, kits, and services that can help reduce installation time. Z-Wave SmartStart, for example, is a new enhancement to the Z-Wave specification that is going to allow security dealers to save them time on-site.
The increasing complexity of smart home installations has been a hindrance for service providers and it’s not uncommon for technicians to spend more time than they’d prefer validating component functionality as well as integrating components and configuring scenes, rules, and scripts. Advancements such as Z-Wave SmartStart will enable the pre-configuration of Z-Wave devices to the network from a dealer’s service center. This pre-configuration capability spans the entire Z-Wave ecosystem which allows for all different types of devices that the dealer specified, even if they’re from different manufacturers, can be bundled together for instant integration in a consumer’s home. Armed with a roster of pre-configured peripheral devices, all that’s required on-site is the mounting of the devices and addition of power.
Maintenance is a big place where time and money are lost for dealers. To protect current investments and make it easier to maintain, dealers should look for standards-based technology that is backwards compatible. This way, updates and additions can be made easily and the dealer and the homeowner can avoid ending up with different “flavors” of installed systems, which make it harder to manage, maintain and ultimately cause more truck rolls.
At the end of the day, decreased time on-site frees up more time security dealers could be installing fresh systems for new clients and generating RMR.
While it’s true IoT is rapidly evolving, there’s still plenty of opportunities for security dealers and integrators to stay ahead of the curve and provide the expertise customers in their area are looking for. According to IHS Markit, 80 million smart home devices were delivered worldwide in 2016 which is a 64% increase over 2015 and despite that phenomenal growth, 2017 is poised to deliver similar, if not improved growth. To best equip themselves to serve their customers and remain the trusted experts in security, providers should take the time now to fully understand the technologies driving IoT growth and development.