The race is on to win in the smart home, but will CSPs triumph?
Growth in the communications industry has been a challenge for communications service providers (CSPs) in recent years but the increase in the number of connected devices and consumer expectations surrounding the smart home changes that, writes Paul Lalancette, the connected home lead for the communications industry at Accenture. For CSPs, smart homes are a gateway to vast opportunities – for example providing new services such as digital healthcare or home energy management – and now is the time for them to develop an offer that fully meets the needs of the digital consumer.
Smart home technology uptake has been building recently, with elements such as connected security, smart thermostats and voice activation entering homes. Today, smart services are mostly brought to consumers through a variety of channels. But the future is in the development of a fully integrated offer, giving customers a highly-personalised service, with everything they need brought together through one platform. The demand is certainly there; Accenture research found that 80% of consumers surveyed want a single provider for all of their digital needs.
What does a smart home look like?
Every service operating in the house must talk to each other to create a truly smart home. CSPs should provide a platform with open application programme interfaces (APIs) which they can connect to other services and applications in their ecosystem, bringing every element of a smart home together through one central hub.
As an established provider of services to consumers, CSPs are well positioned to upsell other services. If the quality of their broadband connectivity and support services are good, customers are likely to be open to additional offers. Research found that 71% of consumers believe that “having a single bill integrating a bundle of products and services” will motivate them to purchase additional products and services. Creating a smart home platform will also help reduce customer churn, one of the costliest items on a CSP’s bottom line.
The platform needs to be developed so that third-party organisations want to utilise it. From a financial perspective, this opens significant revenue opportunities, as well as ways to incorporate operational efficiencies by running an integrated service.
Bringing together multiple parties to deliver smart home services is the core challenge. Effective, mutually beneficial collaboration is crucial, and CSPs running smart home platforms will be at the heart of this relationship. And central to any platform business will be its ability to operate securely, and to ensure any accompanying services do as well, in order to maintain and build on the established trust relationship companies have with their consumer client base.
People want integrated digital services that make life easier, and CSPs can provide them. In fact, 71% of consumers would choose a CSP to manage their connected home. As businesses already operating in people’s homes, they can ensure they deliver an excellent broadband service and then build on it to provide an integrated, customer-centric smart home offer.
But if they don’t act on this opportunity now, somebody else will.