Transforming today’s “smart home” into a future home: An opportunity for CSPs to win the IoT race at home | VanillaPlus


The past year has seen us all spending more time at home than ever before. During this time and continuing still, our homes have become our workplaces, remote classrooms, virtual doctor’s office, as well as our primary venue for entertainment. With the world of work set to transform for the long-term post-pandemic, these trends will increasingly become a central part of our lives going forward.

But today’s “Smart Home” still requires you to be the CTO of your own home just to get things connected and working together. This means what we’re looking for in our home will continue to evolve, consumers are already looking for solutions to help make their work life at home more efficient and are looking to new digital services to provide them with a more connected, future experience.

With this demand comes a huge opportunity for Communication Service Providers (CSPs) to take advantage of, and they must do so before the world’s tech titans continue to take more ground and entrench themselves throughout the home, says Andrew Walker, senior managing director and global communications & media industry lead and Kathleen Dolan, strategy director at Accenture.

Existing “smart” home products are still primarily isolated and focused solutions, and the customer has yet to see an integrated ecosystem that personalises to each individual living under one roof. So, how can CSPs take advantage of their unique position to create the new future home and drive their transformation toward an indispensable service for years to come?

Curating a future home ‘concierge’

Being able to provide a unique and compelling suite of orchestrated services and experiences is the next step towards the future home that will be a key path for CSPs to improve customer experience while staving off competition. They can, of course, help customers ensure their devices are connected securely, but to truly drive innovation and reinforce their position in the value chain, they will need to take the lead in seamlessly integrating all devices within the home network as one ‘brain’ to help customers realise the potential of the IoT.

By integrating all devices into a single, connected platform, CSPs can even help consumers manage their lifestyle through their future homes. To begin this platform mindset journey, CSPs can start by building on their connectivity strength to the home.

By becoming the orchestrator of a future home ‘concierge’, the role of the CSP develops from simple connectivity provider to a significant and powerful part of consumer life. This positions CSPs as a curator of future home life but also places them in a position to partner with other relevant companies.

CSP Journey to Own the Home

Leveraging data to create a new business model

Data is the key to this new role, as CSPs can use it to understand their customers and to tailor smart home services to create individualised experiences. With the right consent, CSPs could ethically collect data on when, why and how consumers use their devices. The more they learn from a customer’s digital footprint and the intent behind each action, the more the CSP platform can provide the insights to proactively address user needs, individually.

For example, if a family connects multiple IoT devices, the CSP can gain insight into where they are suffering connectivity issues and make recommendations on adding a mesh wi-fi router or where in the house there is more reliable connectivity. Or the CSP can have insight into which devices are using the most bandwidth and prioritise usage based on the preferences. Leveraging these insights, the CSP can create a tradeable asset which builds on their core but opens the door to monetisation in new industries.

Kathleen Dolan

However, creating these services and experiences requires both product capabilities and time to value. To address at scale, as a front-runner, CSPs do not need to have the full R&D capability to build these products themselves. This is where partnerships come in CSPs will be able to leverage the control points and consumer data they have gleaned through a connected network of home devices to drive third-party interest in collaboration, where interested parties can play a role in the ecosystem by offering new services, products, capabilities, and improved offers.

Taking the example of a home work-out consumer, CSPs could aggregate data for healthcare providers, primary care facilities and health specialists based on data collected from wearable devices, and overlay it with a broader set of data from a connected fridge, scale, and pillbox. These examples have easy applicability to all facets of a consumer lifestyle, including entertainment, gaming or education.

Act fast to establish future home dominance

Andrew Walker

CSPs are thus powering a two-sided business model, initially, to be a more proactive and agile business in their own offerings by extending from offering true “pipes” to an enhanced experience, while also curating new experiences by closely working with partners to unlock new monetisation opportunities. Wrapping high-value CSP services with ecosystem services, while ensuring CSPs maintain privacy controls and the trust of the customer through consumer data and identity will drive long-term success.

The opportunity to provide consumers with an individualised, proactive, integrated solution to orchestrate their daily lives is well poised to resonate right now. Consumers are increasingly embracing connected products to improve everything from their health, workplace to lifestyle. Whilst the key components of everyone’s IoT ecosystem may currently exist, the true opportunity is that consumers are still waiting for it all to be stitched together in a harmonious, ever-evolving network.

The businesses that jump on this demand will prove themselves to be just as indispensable as the home itself. Winning the race to establish the future of home living is another key way for CSPs to drive growth and reinvent their status in the post-pandemic world. In our next article, we’ll look at the opportunity we have in driving SMBs forward.

The authors are Andrew Walker, senior managing director and global communications & media industry lead and Kathleen Dolan, strategy director at Accenture.

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