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CES in a year became all about the Internet of Things

sands-floor-smThe International Consumer Show in Las Vegas is always a big one for us as we have so very many of our customers of our ServiceOperations products there. However, this year, it began to be equally about the Internet of Things, which is a big part of our Connected Services offering that is anchored by our sophisticated and proven ServiceScheduling offering.

Bosch Solutions, one of our OEM partners, was debuting their next generation technology, surrounded by the other interesting areas of Bosch technology. The connected car was a hit, but interesting as well was the augmented reality video frameworks and latest advancements in embedded security.

The evolution in the appliances and consumer products space continues to expand. The manufacturers of wearable technology have exploded in quantity and range of offerings. Fitbit has quite of bit of competition now. Consumers can have smart appliances (some can even communicate now by text), smart toothbrushes, thermostats, TVs, security, cars, you name it. There is also beginning to be a proliferation of technology also to manage all those protocols and connections, whether Nest (now Google’s), Apple has HomeKit, Lowe’s Iris, Orange’s Homelive, and others -- there are even now home robots to help. Concerns about security and privacy will need equally to be met as real use in the home or business evolves.

Our SVP of Product Management Brad Hawkins, a 20+ year veteran in field service and I matched up notes about key trends and here is what we are seeing…

#1 – The expansion of Smart Devices: Connected devices are extending across more and more verticals which are pushing organizations to think outside of the box as it relates to product design and ensuring compatibility in a connected environment. Original Equipment Manufactures (OEM’s) are finding increasing opportunities to manage the customer experience and extend value as connected devices are given more a detailed view into customer usage. Data and analytics are being leveraged not only on customer usage but allows for custom, tailored solutions for each individual consumer. Product monitoring continues to expand to play a larger role in regards to Home Warranty, Extended Service, Insurance, Service Referrals and Advertising. Right now the Security Industry seems to be leading the way to adoption and usage of smart devices and have expanded their services well beyond the typical security offerings to include home automation (locks, lights, doors, appliances, etc…).

#2 – Channel Strategies and Business Models: This session focused on the impact connected homes are having on channel strategies and partnership agreements. More and more customers are expecting a unique integrated experience across all of their connected devices. This puts a challenge on businesses in regards to delivery of solutions and the need for interoperability. Interoperability was seen as the biggest obstacle to smart device adoption. Due to a lack of standardization across platforms the current perception is that while devices are certainly connected in the home that doesn’t mean they are smart. Also, businesses are having to reach outside of their own organizations and leverage independent business to deliver the various services that connected devices can supply. This is due to the wide array and continued expansion of the number of devices with the ability to connect.CRB_1106_sm

#3 – Smart Platforms: Current projections are predicting 212 billion connected devices by the end of 2020. Today, there are multiple devices connecting across various platforms and gateways typically using different approaches. The biggest barrier to adoption of smart devices is the lack of interoperability between platforms. There are varying approaches at the gateway level, data analytics and modeling level, data services and devices. Big data is starting to play a larger role but an issue to solve across all platforms is normalization of data. Competition will continue to drive innovation but there is an urgent need for standardization of protocols. There needs to be a push towards standard communication framework, the ability to manage communication across devices and data structure. Things like embedded security will also increasingly come to the forefront.

A year ago, IoT was something that we had to drive discussion on. Now it seems to be top of mind for almost every business. Fortunately for ServicePower, we are very well positioned with our software and field service experience to handle the demand that is coming. We have many of our customers in insurance, security or other verticals already working with “whole home” or “business” coverage approaches. We can offer them a direct path to bring in IoT vendors and technology as part of their field service, parts or triage strategy as the expansion of smart devices is driving business to expand on their offerings and potential changing their business model in creative ways.

The expansion is also driving the need for standardization as new communication and device protocols continue to come forward. Ultimately, the devices, platforms and business strategies have to mesh in a way that is seamless to the consumer. If they don’t, we have an environment that is connected but not necessarily smart.


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