IoT ripe for monitoring

It’s not a threat but an opportunity, ESX panelists say
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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

BALTIMORE—Consumers with home automation systems most trust security companies to monitor them, according to “Monetizing the IoT” panelists at ESX 2015. That’s a fact that the industry needs to embrace for future success, they said.

Consumers say that security is their top reason for buying into smart home systems, according to numerous studies the panelists said at the conference, held here June 24-26.

The security industry often views home automation merely as an add-on, but consumers don’t, according to panelist Jeff Bedell of Alarm.com. Consumers see home automation as an integral part of security, he said.

Bedell was joined on the panel by Mike Hackett of Qolsys, Gordon Hope of Honeywell and Paul Plofchan of ADT. Kirk MacDowell of Alarm.com was the moderator.

“All products, like a toaster, will pitch themselves as security. And it seems like a threat to us,” Bedell said. But it’s not, “it’s an opportunity,” he said.

A recent Consumer Electronics Association study, Bedell said, showed that most people trust security companies the most to monitor their home automation systems.

“The opportunity is to sell into the demand. The risk is that as an industry we let someone else do it,” Bedell said.

The growing monitor-it-yourself generation poses a risk when it comes to IoT.

“What do we say when a customer says, ‘I don’t need your monitoring, I get it direct from my app for free,’?” asked panelist Hope, SVP of Honeywell’s AlarmNet group.

That answer comes in the form of a question, Hope said. “What are we uniquely good at or could we become uniquely good at?”

Hope advised letting customers know why you make a difference, he said.

“We’re not free because we provide value,” Hope said. Customer experience and support matter, he said. “What are we doing to position ourselves better?”

You can MIY, Hope said, “but apps won’t keep your house from burning down. “Free” cannot compete with 24/7 life safety. Notifications are great, but what if you’re halfway around the world and through MIY you see that your house is burning down, he asked.

It’s all about staying relevant, he said.

Dealers have expressed frustration with trying to morph their organizations into the IoT, Hope said, but “you can either participate or wait.”

“We will not survive in this industry without offering home automation,” he said, encouraging ESX audience members to “embrace the change,” because it has “much more of an upside than downside.”

Adaptation and collaboration are critical, agreed Mike Hackett of Qolsys.

Work with partners, listen to your customers and embrace it all, put it all in the home, Hackett said. The richer the home experience, the more security companies will experience success, he said.

“Think of suppliers, pick a partner and truly be a partner,” he said. “We hear that term a lot, but don’t see it.”