WHAT’S UP WITH IoT IN OUR HOMES?
In the age of IoT, tech companies are racing to own the right to connect your home. With the rise of home automation — or domotics — we have seen an influx of options to secure your home in new and ever-more “Smart” ways. For instance, security cameras, surveillance systems, sensors and alarms now have integrated apps that allow you to activate, secure and monitor your home from your mobile device. Newcomers such as Nest, Netgear/Arlo and Ring are making lots of headlines. But giants like Samsung, AT&T, GE, Microsoft, Apple and Google are also in the game, and offer a variety of solutions. And last but not least, Amazon and Alexa are front runners in the space. It’s telling that GE’s Connected Appliance site features an image of Echo on its home page.
ADOPTION IS ON THE RISE
People are not only shopping for smart and connected home devices, they are buying them. Statista shows Smart Home penetration in the US at 32% in 2017, and expects it to be as high as 61% by 2021. Business Insider’s forecast shows that the US is just past the “chasm” and is sitting squarely at the foothills of mass market penetration. Mintel’s Smart Home Report of April 2016 indicates that “The next era of connectivity will see us adopt integrated ecosystems of products, services, and digital goods that sync our homes, our appliances, and our bodies.”
Yosi Wechling, Director at Resolution Media, feels this market is hotter than ever: “We have seen an uptick in indoor and outdoor smart home cameras. December 2016’s last-impression-based sales increased 47% over the previous month. Our data shows that people are motivated by the high design, plug-and-play set-up, and overall product quality when outfitting their home for security/automation.”
Overall, those of us who already have an Amazon Echo, Ring doorbell, Nest Camera, Google Home or other device, are providing valuable data and insight for the industry to adapt and grow, whether we know it or not.
THE BENEFIT TO MARKETERS AND CONSUMERS
When your home is “smart,” it can help you with mundane tasks such as remembering to turn lights on and off, setting alarms, lowering the thermostat, or showing you who is at your front door and allowing you to open it from the comfort of your couch – or your desk at work – as long as you have your mobile device on hand. In the future, a smart home might keep you from running out of essentials like milk, laundry detergent, or diapers because it will order them for you!
For marketers, the trick is gaining access to the rich data being collected by these connected devices in smart homes. However, the IoT market as it stands today is fragmented and involves many closed ecosystems controlled by the companies building and powering the hardware. Now, the best we can do is watch and wait, as we are sure to see some consolidation in the industry. If we bide our time, the reward paid out in new areas of data and consumer insight will be invaluable!
THE POTENTIAL RISKS
As we saw with the DDoS attack in 2016, not all in-home IoT devices are created equal. It was determined that the hackers were able to gain access to many top US sites, including Reddit, Twitter and The NY Times, through weak security protocol in the code of many lower-cost connected home systems. In addition, personal data (also known as PII) may be exposed and available to hackers and others with malicious intent, like in this episode of Mr. Robot. It’s the stuff of nightmares, folks. And if it isn’t fully addressed, it’ll definitely affect adoption.
IN THE MEANTIME
As a marketer, keep your eyes on the acquisitions, rollouts, and integration opportunities in this space. Soon we will have a whole new playing field that is channel agnostic, because the new game is about life, not media.
A favorite pastime of mine is to muse over what the connected future of IoT will make possible. Washing Machines that know which detergent gets your clothes the whitest, is most effective at removing bacteria from fabrics, is best at leaving a fresh scent, and which of those features is most important to ME. Then, placing an order directly through its connected interface so that I never ever have to run out again…the possibilities are endless. Try it for yourself and send me your wild ideas! If I get enough I will put together a compilation of “what if” scenarios @SEMSage or email@example.com .