Why the connected home is relevant for your business
In an exclusive interview, Matt Nimmons, managing director of Cedia, EMEA, outlines the opportunities that the connected home and the Internet of Things can offer electrical retailers
Q: What’s stopping many electrical retailers embracing the smart home? What are the main obstacles and objections?
Matt Nimmons: The main challenge for many electrical retailers is in recognising the opportunity, understanding how they can take advantage of it and then taking the right steps to change in order to make the most of it.
Using the term ‘smart’ may be less and less helpful, however. There are many so-called ‘smart’ devices that retailers can sell direct to the consumer that can be operated or controlled via individual apps on a mobile or tablet. That’s fine, but is it really ‘smart’? And where’s the retailer’s opportunity to offer customers something different and better?
The real opportunity is in a professionally installed “connected” home system where multiple electronic technologies – including audio, TVs and home cinemas, lighting, security, data networks, heating and more – can be integrated and concealed within the home, then operated, enjoyed and controlled quickly and easily, when needed, from any single interface.
This ‘product plus installation plus service sale’ model offers added value to both the retailer and the customer. But, it also requires a change in the way many independents currently do business and a fundamental change in mind-set for those who want to embrace this market the right way.
Q: How, as an industry, can we overcome those obstacles? What do we need to do to get more electrical retailers into the smart home?
MN: The key is taking the time to research the market, get educated and build good, mutually beneficial partnerships.
As an industry, we are well aware of our responsibility in providing the building blocks to support and develop retailers’ business in the connected home.
A growing number of retailers are making progress in this space – and doing good business. We’re confident that this groundswell will persuade more retailers that they too need to evolve.
'This ‘product plus installation plus service sale’ model offers added value to both the retailer and the customer. But, it also requires a change in the way many independents currently do business'
Q: How can Cedia help?
MN: Cedia is committed to supporting its members with leading industry training, education and certification, delivered by experts who understand the challenges for professional home integration as the market continues to grow.
Electrical retailers wanting to understand the connected-home sector can benefit from Cedia’s wide range of training sessions, designed to support both technical and business skills.
Following a recent partnership with retailers association Retra, Cedia can offer members a discount on a number of training sessions.
Making it easier than ever for electrical retailers to stay ahead of their competitors, this collaboration provides members with the latest industry knowledge and expertise through both practical and theoretical teaching.
Cedia also produces white papers, standards and recommended practices documents, webinars, and reference documents, including Cedia’s Recommended Smart Home Wiring Guidelines document. This has proved to be the most popular document in our library of resources, with over 5,000 downloads since its launch, allowing electrical contractors to stay up-to-date with industry developments.
We can also connect Cedia members with retailers to form mutually beneficial partnerships, whether that’s around particular brands or enabling retailers to create relationships with trusted installers in their area.
Q: Why should electrical retailers get into the smart home? What are the benefits? What advice would you give them?
MN: Just a few years ago, smart-home technology was reserved for lavish, high-end properties and wealthy individuals.
Intelligent technology systems are today reaching consumers daily, with more than half owning some form of connected device for their home, according to the Deloitte Consumer Review.
Now, more than ever, homeowners are becoming increasingly aware of how integrated smart-home technology can benefit day-to-day life.
With the recent explosion of the Internet of Things (IoT), our lifestyles are soon going to be inundated with devices that will be able to talk to us, applications and each other. In fact, American-based research firm, Gartner, recently revealed its prediction that more than 20 billion devices will be part of the IoT by 2020.
For independent electrical retailers to remain relevant to the customers they serve, this represents a great business opportunity.
Being able to offer design and installation services will build business for retailers, and customers will benefit from a more professional service with a deeper understanding of the options available. Those who take the opportunity to build business in this area will be able to develop longer and more profitable relationships with their customers, gaining credibility and repeat custom.
'With Cedia training and qualifications under their belt, Hughes Smart Home and Avensys were able to use their skills and knowledge of technology as part of the sales process, appearing as key suppliers to their clients'
Q: Are you seeing more independents getting into basic CI, rather than the smart home?
MN: We are seeing traction for companies offering professional custom-installation services on top of a retail offering.
Companies such as Hughes Smart Home and Avensys are great examples of this approach, recognising the opportunity to expand after learning about the market and investing in this side of their business.
With Cedia training and qualifications under their belt, Hughes Smart Home and Avensys were able to use their skills and knowledge of technology as part of the sales process, appearing as key suppliers to their clients.
In this way, they are able to provide their clients with a whole-home solution, rather than individual products and services. We strongly encourage more electrical retailers to do the same.
• For more information, please visit http://www.cedia.co.uk/