Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Smart Energy Summit in Austin. The entire energy marketplace was well represented from telecom and technology experts to entertainment, government and security–focused organizations – all vying for position as thought leaders in smart home innovation.
These players are committed to the future of smart energy for both businesses and consumers. Here are a few insights I took away:
- Consumer engagement remains the #1 issue to companies in the energy sector. Saving energy in and of itself is not a compelling idea with most people. People say they care, but not enough to change behaviors. Energy companies are looking for ways to make saving energy attractive to consumers.
- It’s time to move beyond early adopters. The “cool factor” as one of the conference speakers called it, persuaded that first wave of people to purchase a smart thermostat. Nest has been successful in creating compelling technology, but even with its successes and other smart technology, the early adopter market segment represents less than five percent of the total opportunity. While there has been a lot of time spent in product development around functionality and interoperability of smart home devices, marketing to the unengaged will hinge on companies identifying a “need” for customers.
- Bundling smart thermostat solutions with other offerings is a must. A primary interest in home security is a big driver for most consumers. These individuals usually invest in smart home solutions with energy conservation as a third, or even fourth, reason for purchasing the technology. Energy-based technology solution providers will have a successful future if they can apply interoperability and offer bundled solutions with other security and automation systems. There are big players bundling these offerings already, but there is fear of proprietary relationships that will drive out the competition. Google’s recent acquisition of Nest has that feel.
I really enjoyed what I learned at the Smart Energy Summit. The Marketwave team and I will continue to follow many of the companies involved to see how they make an impact on the future of smart homes and smart energy innovation.