The Internet of Things

A terrible name for important new technologies that will dramatically change the way you live

A symbol of the World Wide Web illustrating how possible it is to find everything on it.

It's time for a clear vision of consumer value to drive the Internet of Things and Smart Homes to their full potential.

You can’t escape the hype these days surrounding the Internet of Things (IoT).

At every turn, you’re being sold the promise of billions of “smart” and connected devices that will transform the way you live and interact with everything around you.

There’s a particularly vociferous crowd touting these benefits for the home — or Smart Home, as they like to refer to it. While game-changing technologies will no doubt reshape how you live in and interact with your home, I have a problem with the current dialog around the Smart Home and the Internet of Things.

It’s Not Just Remote Control: There’s A Larger Opportunity to Improve Our Homes – and Our Lives

If you listen to the current sales pitches being made by most product manufacturers and home builders, you’d think the utopian end game is to enable your smartphone to become a remote control for your home.

While taking mobile and remote control of your house is not a bad idea, it’s an underwhelming vision for what a smart and connected home could actually do to improve your life.

The current approach — assuring you that there’s an app that will enable you to use your smartphone to control one aspect of your home remotely — will result in dozens of independent apps, all with unique interfaces, none talking to each other, delivering underwhelming value, and taking up space on our phones.

It’s Time to Call an End to the Madness of “There’s an App for That!”

Even worse? With so many separate apps controlling specific, narrow aspects of your home, you won’t be able to easily view them on the main screen of your phone — the screen you use daily for your important apps.

A vast array of unrelated apps will end up relegated to the depths of your phone, adjacent to all the other apps you seldom use, on page seven of apps you’ve forgotten you even have.

While We’re At It, It’s Time for An End to “Program It Yourself” Apps That Won’t Get Programmed

In a recent sales presentation, a young sales rep enamored with his company’s hot new app said, “and you can even program it yourself.”

Really! That’s just what I was hoping for — an Internet of things that will not only overload my phone with dozens of apps that I’ll seldom use, I’ll also have to learn how to program each of these many tools.

It’s time for a time out. Let’s start by reviewing previous consumer behavior with respect to new technology. What percentage of DVRs really get programed? How many past attempts at whole house automation were fully utilized? Or even touched after installation?

What I find missing in the current value proposition is, well, value!

So What Do Consumers and Homeowners Really Want?

Consumers have not been asking for more apps, more devices to spend money on, or new devices to program. 

What consumers do want is more free time, increased security, improved health, more respect, positive personal feedback, convenience, cost savings, true utility and tools that enable them to be better parents and smarter caretakers of their homes. 

These are the pillars of consumer desire – and the pillars that will build the value in a truly Smart Home. Product manufacturers and home builders that deliver real value in these areas will prosper — but companies that do not will falter or fail.

I believe the Smart Home will fundamentally change the way that we live in and with our homes. But first we need to focus on delivering true value to consumers and homeowners — and we need to offer clear, simple, and truly useful tools and explain how they’re going to make our homes — and ultimately our lives — better.

Tim Costello is Chairman and CEO of Builder Homesite, Inc. Dedicated to the digital transformation of the homebuilding industry, BHI is owned by a consortium of 30 leading builders and also serves thousands of client builders. NewHomeSource.com, the firm's flagship website, is the leading real estate website for newly built homes.

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