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The Impact Of Do-It-Yourself In Smart Homes

TWICE: With awareness for home automation and smart homes growing, what is the value proposition of custom-installed home-automation systems?

Brad Hintze, C4: There’s a lot of talk about DIY and the next plugand play smart thing. There has been an explosion of these smart-home devices. Most often the term refers to point solutions like Nest and Sonos. But the problem is that they don’t all work together in unison like a professionally installed home-automation system will.

The value is in CI companies moving a house beyond “smart” with point solutions that you can control individually into “intelligent” where you can orchestrate all of those devices together in unison when needed. Think of it like hooking up all the plumbing in your house, or replacing all the light switches. You might DIY one project, but not the whole thing. A tremendous value-add comes into play by companies with this expertise.

Joe Gerber, Insteon: Because the cost of Insteon systems is so affordable, customers may prefer to have someone else do the installation for them. Installers are far more tech-savvy due to the proliferation of IP-based devices. They can also help homeowners overcome unique challenges they may have in their home.

TWICE: How has DIY home automation affected the custom-install market?

Hintze: The coverage of DIY IoT products has raised a tremendous amount of awareness for the CI channel. It has transformed the image of this industry from geeky and techy to being more approachable by the mainstream consumer audience. The motivation behind consumers’ interest in DIY products is clear: They demand a product with personalization and control. DIY products have certainly influenced products you see coming out of CI home-automation systems in this respect: where you have companies like Control4 giving much more control to the consumer who is using the system.

Tom Kerber, Parks: The growth of self-installed smart home systems is expanding the market by offering lower cost solutions via new channels. ADT’s recent announcement on its partnership with LG is a good example of how self-installed products are complementary to existing channels.

Gerber: Custom installers have had to give up some control over their systems to the end user whereas before, homeowners would have to call their installer anytime a lighting scene needed changing or any other type of simple configuration change.

TWICE: What has been the impact of service providers — such as alarm companies, cable companies, telcos, and the like — on the DIY market?

Nathan Smith, Wink: It’s great to see such a diverse group of companies entering the smart home space. Their significant advertising resources enable them to reach more consumers and, in turn, help us collectively educate people on the value proposition of the smart home.

Kerber: While new entrants are doing well, all channels are growing with the market. The combined marketing efforts of all market participants are growing awareness.

Gerber: We often hear from Insteon customers who considered the options offered by alarm and cable companies that they didn’t want to deal with the installation hassle and the monthly fees. Ultimately, it’s another option for consumers interested in entering the space, but we don’t see it as an option for someone who truly wants an automated home to fit their personalized needs or something they can add to over time.

See more from this roundtable: