In recent posts, I’ve been looking at some of the big questions that ISPs should be thinking about when procuring smart home management. Considerations of security strength, hardware flexibility, use of Artificial intelligence to boost accuracy, and future-proofing with industry standards will help service providers to limit both costs and risk.
But now let’s focus on the features that will really delight subscribers, build loyalty, reduce churn and form a premium offering to boost ARPU. Smart devices are fun and labor-saving, but there’s no doubt they also create real problems for consumers. These include frustrations with poor connectivity and intrusive advertising, fears about online security and the safety of the physical home, as well as tensions over what content children can view and when.
Helping households overcome fear and frustration
Of course, the relative importance of these different topics will vary from market to market, but an operator who offers solutions to all of them will surely find a receptive audience. Many separate technologies tackle these challenges – from Mesh Wi-Fi and network extenders to ad-blockers, parental control systems, firewalls and security monitors.
Many ISPs have already invested in some of these technologies, and some technology vendors bundle several features into a single product. So, whether you’re new to smart home management or just expanding your offering, any procurement process must weigh whether best value comes from using multiple vendors or selecting an all-in-one offering.
Configuring a mix-and-match solution to fit your needs
Typically, all-in-one solutions offer economies of scale that result in a lower price point than buying separately. Operators may also be comforted to know there’s a single vendor dealing with any issues and no risk of “passing the buck” for any mistakes.
But if you’ve already invested in one piece of the puzzle, should you rule out an all-in-one solution as the answer to your additional needs? First, check whether the system is configurable to allow for purchasing just the parts you need. Is it possible to separate out the security or parental controls functionality to work alongside your existing Mesh Wi-Fi system, for example, in subscriber homes that need Mesh?
Integration, integration, integration
Naturally, a key consideration when combining separate technologies is the integration effort. Do any of the systems you’re considering (or that you’ve already deployed) mandate specific hardware? And does that rule-out including any of the other technologies in a potential mix-and-match solution? If integration is possible, will all the vendors actively support the process, even if their sale has already taken place? Is any one of them willing to take on the role of prime integrator, or will you need your own team to manage and deliver the project?
As mentioned in my previous blog post, before selecting a solution that works on one type of hardware only, consider whether you’re willing to accept hardware lock-in that limits your future procurement options.
Beyond the CPE: Other integration considerations
A great benefit of smart home management can be reduced support calls and truck rolls as subscribers are empowered to “self-care”. Smart home data can also enable support teams to deliver better, faster service to consumers who do call for help. But both these benefits depend on getting the data to the relevant audience in a user-friendly way.
Operators must establish how easy it will be to integrate data from any smart home system into their existing solutions, including subscriber-facing apps, customer care back-end systems and billing platforms that manage entitlement to the smart home offering. Is there a well-developed, flexible and documented API to support your needs, or will both consumers and support staff need additional apps to access the smart home data?
A partner for the long haul?
Finally, consider the vendor’s track record. Do they have the stability and backing to be a long-term partner? Is their security solution based on a solid foundation of research, or does their real expertise lie elsewhere?
Do they have a 24/7 security operations center with a global footprint that already provides support to Tier 1 and 2 service providers? In short, are they a vendor you can count on?
Four more key evaluation questions for smart home management systems
Here’s a reminder of those other questions to ask in your smart home security procurement process:
- Exactly how smart is the smart home security?
- Can it address your existing installed base of routers and be hardware agnostic?
- Will it give consumers and service staff the insight they need?
- Does it use open standards for future-proofing?
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Bengt Jonsson | SVP Sales