One of the hottest topics for discussion with many opportunities emerging around it is the Internet of Things, or IoT. It’s not just change or progress. It has the potential to disrupt and, in many instances, already is disrupting work, home, travel, play, and just about every facet of our lives. But what is it and what does it mean for the security industry — in particular, your business?
Definitions of the IoT are prolific and varied, but I’ll take a stab at it: “The IoT refers to devices with some amount of computer/microprocessing power that have an IP address, are interconnected and communicate over networks and the Internet.” These devices range from simple sensors (motion, heat, temperature, light), to mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, wearables), to appliances (refrigerators, beds, washing machines), to transportation vehicles (automobiles, semi-trucks, boats, shipping containers, tractors). Data is sent and received by these devices, allowing for remote control. The real power of the IoT comes when the information accumulated from these connected devices is analyzed through artificial intelligence (AI).
A revolution is happening with the IoT and it’s only just beginning. If you’re confused, overwhelmed, and not sure what to do, don’t worry. We all have to go through the revolution and hopefully end up on the winning side. There are already more IoT devices than humans on the earth, and Cisco is not alone in predicting 50 billion IoT devices by 2020. Industry research firm Parks Associates agrees the number is huge. The market value is also huge. According to McKinsey Global Institute, “The IoT is projected to deliver $11 trillion in economic value by 2025.” These numbers definitely indicate a revolution, as the IoT didn’t even exist five years ago.
IoT devices and the new world created by them will touch everybody, but not in the same way. You may think some industries won’t be impacted, but everyone will. Even the landscape service industry will be connected with remote monitoring of equipment and workers, ground-moisture sensors, smart sprinklers, and unmanned lawnmowers. In the security industry, dealers already connect cameras and deliver smart home devices for control, and these services lead to additional RMR and customer “stickiness.”
Given the key features of any IoT device are connectivity and networking, refer to past installments of this Security Insights column, “The World Is Connected; Are You?” (www.SDMmag.com/the-world-is-connected-are-you) and “Own the Network = Recurring Revenue for Security Dealers” (www.SDMmag.com/own-the-network-recurring-revenue). Over time, all of the devices in the house will be integrated. The security industry has the edge right now to deliver the IoT, but not for long, as others eagerly enter the market, including integrators, electricians, other subcontractors, and utility providers.
What about the world we live in today, and what you might do to leverage the IoT now? Remember, an IoT device is application-based and not all devices fit all lifestyles. You know your customers and what is important to them.
Learn about IoT devices and offer those that match your installation team’s skillset or build their skills. Help your sales team learn how to explain the benefits of adding IoT devices.
The most important step is figuring out what solutions to offer a particular customer. Remember, it’s not one-size-fits-all. The sales process must be informative and consultative. Look around, gather information about your customers’ lifestyles and notice things that matter. If they have a swimming pool, would they like an IoT monitoring device sensing action in the water? Do they have particular medical issues such as asthma and would they like to know the air quality inside and outside of their home, and receive alerts on when to take precautions? Do they have a second home and would they like to know if the furnace quits working before the pipes freeze, or turn up the temperature prior to arrival on a cold winter night?
It’s about leveraging technology to enhance daily living at work and home, freeing us up for the things we enjoy the most. The security industry already delivers peace of mind; you may want to join the revolution and enhance the quality of life even further by embracing the IoT.