Recently, I wrote about the welcome focus operators are now placing on the smart home user experience as both a brand differentiator and source of new revenue. For many ISPs this means an urgent technology evaluation process. But are they using the right criteria?

In this series of blog posts, I’m posing five key questions for operators to ask vendors of smart home management systems. They include security and hardware considerations, future proofing and feature set.

This post examines how quality IoT Fingerprinting can heavily impact security, the user experience, and operational costs.

Essential insight for subscribers and customer care teams

With households adding more Wi-Fi-enabled devices all the time, it’s never been more important to keep track of what’s connected to the home network. Unknown or forgotten devices introduce security risk and may drain available bandwidth.

IoT fingerprinting is the process of identifying devices connected to a network based on the attributes they reveal. This information is vital for both subscriber self-care and customer support services. But not all IoT fingerprinting is created equal.

All about the attributes – improving the accuracy of IoT Fingerprinting

When it comes to fingerprinting, there are a few factors that determine dependably accurate device identification. Generally, the more device attributes that are reviewed, the better – technical elements like user agent and traffic by DNS.

Secondly, the number of devices observed by the fingerprinting platform will matter, because an entirely new device on the market may be difficult to classify without human intervention. Which brings us to the next point: Human validation, such as end user feedback, is another data input that can be used to tune fingerprinting. Finally, of course, the quality of the algorithmic analysis will lend to both fingerprinting accuracy and speed.

For the consumer this all adds up to one thing – will the smart home management system accurately identify which of my devices is a CCTV camera, which is a thermostat, and which is a smart speaker?

Empowering self-care to reduce customer care costs

The more of this data displayed in a self-care dashboard, the more consumers will feel they have control over their smart home. They’re also more likely to resolve security and connectivity issues themselves, avoiding frustrating encounters with customer support lines for them and reducing call volumes and costs for the ISP. It’s a win-win situation.

But self-care isn’t for everyone, and when subscribers do ask for help, customer care teams need all the information they can get to help solve problems quickly and efficiently, keeping call times to a minimum.

Once again, accurate IoT fingerprinting with rich attribute data gives support staff a fighting chance of delivering a great service. Not only will call center costs reduce, the ISP is also much less likely to require the most expensive customer care option of them all – a truck roll (engineer home visit).

Towards the self-healing smart home network

It’s essential then, for ISPs to investigate fingerprinting capabilities during evaluation of any smart home system. Focus on the accuracy of device identification and the user experience for both subscribers and customer care agents. But the holy grail of smart homes in the future will be networks that heal their own issues, automatically.

Ask vendors for their roadmap towards true self-healing capabilities. Will their system automatically switch Wi-Fi channels or frequency bands to get the best signal per device? Or trigger automated firmware updates for the router to maintain in-home security? We know consumers want smart homes that “just work”, so be sure to select systems that aim to make this a reality sooner rather than later.

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:

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Bengt Jonsson | SVP Sales