Smart Home technology is exploding . . . there is no doubt about that. The number of smart home companies keeps growing, as does the enormous variety of smart home products. Some say this is not a sustainable situation and pretty soon we will start seeing a shake-out, and then consolidation. Some companies will fail or change industries, while others will merge or be acquired. When you look at the image above, how does it make you feel?
Smart Home technology is exploding . . . there is no doubt about that. Some say this is not a sustainable situation and pretty soon we will start seeing a shake-out, and then consolidation. Some companies will fail or change industries, while others will merge or be acquired.
When you look at the image below, how does it make you feel?
When I look at it, I feel a bit of anxiety . . . It feels like the Smart Home is getting more complicated, not smarter! The companies displayed above are mostly startups - you also need to add the bigger existing companies. Also, Smart Home is a very broad definition that incorporates different layers: Pet & Baby, Gardening, Health & Wellness. Etc.
We are Our Customer
What is interesting in the Smart Home industry, unlike many other industries, is that every employee in this industry is a potential user: we are shaping our own homes. And we should start to see the Smart Home from the user point of view.
What do you want from your home? If you’re like me, you’ll be thinking along these lines:
I want my family safe and healthy
I want to make my everyday tasks easier, faster, and friendlier
I want to save money where I can
I want to help the environment where I can
I want my home to be a fun place
What Goals Would you Have?
In order to survive and thrive in the Smart Home business environment, companies must create products that see the Smart Home as the user sees it. At BreezoMeter, we believe that no matter what your product is, there are three key strategies to Survive and Thrive by connecting to the user as he sees the smart home:
Engage – products need to engage with the user’s daily tasks, environment, and life. Every day.
Impact – products should focus on creating one meaningful impact on the user’s life. And communicate it daily.
Differentiate – products must differentiate their value proposition from similar products and communicate it to the user often.
So how do you do that? Based on the three strategies above, here are five tactics we believe successful smart home products achieve. Meet these five requirements and we're confident you'll lead your users to satisfaction and loyalty in the long run.
Constantly Remind Users Why they need Your Product
GreenIQ is one of my favorite examples of this. They are a smart garden hub that notifies you of how much water you save using their product, and they do it in a beautiful, appealing way (with daily and weekly reports). They give you positive feedback, and a good feeling that encourages you to do more of the same and look for the next report. They give customers a reason to be curious and to wait to see the next report. What’s the underlying message? You are selling satisfaction. Helping the users feel good. Reminding them of the daily value of the product.
Learn and Adapt to your Users' Behavior
I really like the example of Waze, although it’s not in the Smart Home space. Their product learns while I’m travelling to various places, so instead of me typing the address of my work each morning, it already suggests that. This is where you want your product to be. And August’s product is a great example of how they lock the door when you leave. Very simple and intuitive. It learns to recognize when you’ve left and when you’re returning, so you don’t need to carry a key (You’ll need to enable this feature).
So if you do learn the user’s behavior, don’t do things automatically – find a way to tell the user the story.
3. Fewer Clicks, Simpler Actions
We can’t ignore the trend that we are moving toward speaking to our devices. Now, more than ever, it’s important to minimize the number of clicks and actions that the user has to take. While it is a basic principle to every app developer, in the Smart Home space it is crucial. For example, to control the TV from my app is very cool, but my remote control is still far more convenient. You know where the power button, volume, and other functions are, but an app requires opening it and finding the button . . .So maybe an app isn’t the best answer for that situation. For your device, you must make it SUPER simple to be turned on and to do the work the user expects. A great example again, is August. A HUGE green button to close and open the lock – in the middle of the home screen. Simple and intuitive.
4.Offer Interoperability through Open APIs and Strong Partnerships
Do I really need to say more? If you want to dive in, watch the full video.
5. Proactively Connect Users with their Surroundings
Don’t Wait for user to act. “Smart” means “having or showing a quick-witted intelligence.” A smart device is programmed to be capable of some independent action. I believe this is what the Smart Home is all about: to take independent action based on the surrounding environment.
More than that, the effect of providing indoor air quality information alongside outdoor information is tremendous. Users can see how well the product works and how it cleans the indoor air while the outside stays polluted. But more than that, it shows how much better life is with the product than without it! By showing outdoor air quality data that the user can check when not at home, it keeps the product in mind (which is our first tactic). I’m sure you can find a way to show your user how much better life is with your product than without it!
So we’ve come full circle now. To succeed in this chaotic Smart Home marketplace, it is critical to engage with the user’s everyday goals and to show - through the product - how it impacts their lives. We believe the five tactics above are the most effective way to differentiate your product and position your company for success in the next few years.