There has been an increasing momentum towards the smart home concept. The automation of the home, from thermostats to outlets to doors and security systems, is finally becoming the reality of the 1960’s imagination. With Wi-Fi and smartphones being as ubiquitous as beds in today’s homes, automation’s evolution has finally gone mainstream. Home Depot even has a section of its web site and in its stores dedicated to smart home technology.
Notice the last three words of that last paragraph, “smart home technology.” That phrase is both the hope and potential hurdle of the smart home. Technology sounds well, technical. To date, this is something that smart home manufacturers have not given a lot of thought. Messaging around smart home technology has been centered on the technology itself and how that technology gives the user more control and piece of mind.
But as I think about it, that seems like a message best served after the barriers are reduced.
In order to get someone to consider moving towards a smart home, there are already a bunch of preconceived barriers that exist. Confidence in the reliability of the products, what happens when the power goes out and the level of cost are just a few.
Complexity is hurting smart home acceptance.
But the most emotionally intensive hurdle is the fear of complexity. For smart home companies, this fear is in exact opposition to the promise of smart home technology.
You see, in the decision making process, the simple promise of control and piece of mind may not be enough to move a consumer past their inertia of rest. For most people, the way they currently manage their thermostat, locks and electrical outlets works just fine. Most people are not feeling any pain from having to manually lock their doors or turn off the lights. Thermostats can be set up to automatically manage the temperature on schedule.
You take that and combine it with a fear of complexity, and a serious hurdle emerges. It does not matter how much control and piece of mind you promise. The fear is enough to keep most consumers at bay. Sure, the technology would be cool but is it worth additional unforeseen complexity? Likely not.
This is the crux. Simplicity is not about the product or the technology. It has to be about the act of switching and the reduction of complications in the event of a problem. This is what potential customers truly fear. It is in the alleviation of the fear where market share will truly be grown and taken from traditional systems.
Smart home manufacturers must become smarter and see that, unless they reduce the switching barriers, they are pitching a technology that most people are too afraid to embrace.