Although security has been necessary to protect people and property for decades, it is now considered part of the holistic experience with factors such as connectivity, convenience and integration with other systems.
Users are beginning to expect a smart, automated, connected business and home, and security is the linchpin to other connected services.
It would be unusual for a user to contact their security provider to ask for energy management or lighting control only. They generally start with a main control that offers security first and then ties in the other potential components, including video, smart sensors, energy management, water detection and automating devices.
When low-voltage contractors recognize the opportunity and how to sell it, they will likely find a more lucrative business proposition.
A new generation of smart home sensors, which ABI Research predicts in its report, “The Future of Sensors in the Smart Home,” will approach 4.5 billion installations globally by 2022 and is destined to fundamentally alter how homes are built, maintained and managed.
The sensors, embedded in a wide range of smart home devices and appliances, will deliver near-real-time analytics on changes within home environments. The ability to transform this data into valuable systems and services will be at the heart of smart home adoption and the future housing market, according to ABI Research.
Voice control, artificial intelligence and analytics are other far-reaching technologies poised to change how security is perceived and sold.
How about promoting the category as security as an experience (SaaE)? Because today’s reality is that it’s all about the customer experience, said Mike Simon, managing partner at Connected Technologies, LLC, Crystal Lake, Ill.
“It’s increasingly important to evaluate and elevate the value add to the customer that they will appreciate and then follow it with the type of controlling equipment that will accomplish the results they expect to receive,” Simon said.
Customers don’t care if you install ABC or XYZ equipment as long as it is stable and bulletproof. The customer will find value in the interface for control and management of their system.
Companies installing control equipment with a poor or nonexistent user interface may need to rethink their business plan, Simon said.
“I believe customers are most interested in interaction with their security systems first, intrusion and video (with access control for commercial) then HVAC and lighting,” he said. “The most important aspect is ‘simple.’”
That’s where the cloud comes in. It provides seamless access to systems and allows for offering upgrades and other services.
“The cloud also allows for systems to stay up to date with the latest firmware, always backed up and provides a fixed cost of operation or operating expense that can be budgeted for monthly,” Simon said.
Rehearsing the conversation
Amy Westwood, president and co-founder of Celebration Communities, Orlando, Fla., said systems installers need to speak in simple terms to customers—not technology buzzwords—to have a successful conversation. Celebration Communities is an adviser to developers, builders, property owners and other stakeholders, recommending the latest technology to clients to integrate into new communities. The goal is creating connected and sustainable places that enhance the way people use technology to connect with others and the world.
“Consumers are looking for an experience with their connected solutions, one that marries well with their lifestyle,” Westwood said. “The primary piece users desire is high bandwidth internet services. It used to be that 1-gigabit-per-second [Gbps], high-speed connections were a primary differentiator for new communities, but now it’s expected. Users are also absolutely demanding wireless connectivity, and those are the things builders and developers need to provide.”
Westwood said the line between office and home connectivity has blurred and what users already have at the office is what they now expect at home, especially as occupations demand 24/7 access to the business.
While 1-Gbps networks are still a differentiator, some communities are developing the use of 2-Gbps internet in their properties.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about bandwidth and connectivity to devices, and that’s where the power of the network is so critical,” Westwood said. “Home automation is moving forward quickly, especially with the [internet of things] and interoperability in the home.”
It’s important to focus on the benefits of technology: security, comfort, convenience and automation. Technologies with artificial intelligence and virtual reality are poised for further advancements and mainstream use.
“It’s the wild, wild west out there, and we have disruptors like Google Fiber with a connection that’s up to 1,000 megabits per second,” Westwood said. “There are a lot of changes and evolution happening, and providers need to get in front of discussions early.”
We are just seeing the tip of the iceberg regarding this technology.