IP&TV News talks to Rafi Zauer, Head of Marketing at Essence Group, to find out why security is increasingly synonymous with the smart home.
IP&TV News: Why has security seized centre stage in the smart home ecosystem?
Rafi Zauer: It’s all about what the consumers – the people that end up funding the future of the smart home – are willing to pay for. So you’ve got to look at what they’re used to paying for when it comes to the smart home: with what they know and understand. They’re used to paying for security; we know that.
That’s not for a second meant to devalue the other values of the smart home. For now though I think that the consumer’s number one concern is security.
Given that security remains the focal point of the connected home, what advantage does this give Essence?
Essence is at its core a company built around serving the professional security markets: it is what we’re good at.
This serves us well because a lot of people are pointing at the value of security as the main driver, so we can come to a company or service provider that’s not a professional security service provider and say, listen, we have a platform based on security. It’s self-installed and self-monitored.
It’s a keenly contested market. What differentiates Essence?
Well, we have the experience, the know-how and the fifteen million devices around the world in about 1.3 million homes. That’s the number one differentiator for the company and also the platform.
Number two is we go end to end. We develop the software, the apps, the cloud service – plus we developed the gateways and end user devices. We think this is a big advantage, particularly for a company outside the realm of security: to be able to take a whole system from one provider. We’ve seen other examples of launches that have tried, failed or had a much shorter uptake than expected, because they were using one software platform, another gateway, and other smartphone and security devices.
Another big challenge in the smart home is consumer usability. How has Essence addressed this?
We’ve done a lot of work in the past year or two specifically addressing the user experience. When we talk about the user experience we talk very much about the apps, the interfaces, the ability to pretty much be a plug and play system.
Also, when we talk about user experience we talk about our customers – our customers are service providers. And we provide them with integration tools and services that allow them to very quickly integrate into their current platforms.
It’s a fragmented ecosystem presently. What’s going to define the winners?
Fragmentation is always going to be there with regard to point devices versus platforms. From our perspective, what’s going to make us successful is what we’re doing, which is always keeping our finger on the pulse with the prevalent ecosystem, the new points devices, the ability to pick and choose point devices – otherwise end users are going to prefer to use a multitude of point devices like Nest or Yale locks as opposed to bringing in a platform that is going to incorporate all these point devices.