We just returned from the 11th-annual CONNECTIONS™ Europe conference held on November 2 & 3 in Amsterdam. This ever-popular Parks Associates event was themed: ‘Smart Home, IoT, and the Connected Consumer.’
Arrayent Founder, Shane Dyer
The two-day conference featured keynotes and panel presentations on IoT strategies from industry leaders, including one of our own, Arrayent’s founder Shane Dyer, who spoke on a panel entitled: “Smart Home Solutions: Business Models Shifting to the Cloud,” moderated by Parks’ president, Stuart Sikes.
The event was well attended by high-level executives from companies that ranged from the Fortune 500 to startups plus many venture capitalists. In our view, it appeared to have the most diverse set of companies we have yet seen at a Connections Europe event. As an example, there were a number of European insurance companies interested in understanding how connected products could lead to closer relationships with their customers.
A FEW TAKEAWAYS FROM THIS YEAR’S GATHERING:
- Smart home penetration is still in the low teens in Europe. Against this backdrop of early predictions for growth that were overblown, you could say that the mood at this event was one of ‘sober optimism.’ Sharing its most recent research, Parks Associates said it expects “…steady growth over the next few years in key smart home and IoT categories, including security, smart light bulbs, thermostats, and energy.”
- Right now, we are seeing the most exciting growth in IoT from branded products companies rather than from whole home systems. One of the key drivers of whole home system growth are home security systems in the US, but this is much less prevalent in Europe.
- The bar for building a connected product that is deemed easy, intuitive and useful by mainstream users is especially high in Europe. This puts tremendous pressure on companies who care about building IoT software infrastructure because there is now a great need to create the kind of compatibility that allows connected products to be easier to bring into our lives. At Connections, it was clear the IoT industry must deliver a new and more seamless cloud-to-cloud compatibility paradigm where we can treat devices that connect to other provider’s clouds just as if they were natively connected to their own clouds. Shane Dyer noted: “This is not easy software to build, nor is it simple to run. Manufacturers of hardware products cannot be expected to easily create infrastructure software of this sophistication level themselves.” He went on to say, “We believe enabling interesting functionality that enters the home product by product, developed by many different companies, is the way we will achieve the promise of the smart home. This will require interoperability of disparate products connected in the cloud, and between cloud ecosystems.”
- Security was also a key topic of conversation, especially with the recent news that a significant portion of the Dyn distributed denial of service attacks originated from IoT devices. Many of these devices were Linux-based and it seems that product companies who were in a race to get connected features to market chose architectures that made development fast but introduced unneeded and dangerous complexity—which will be difficult to patch or secure for years to come. While it is easy to point to some of these amateur security errors made in the IoT devices that were attacked, we think the deeper story is about companies accidentally selecting architectures that will be almost impossible to secure as hackers increasingly target IoT devices (see our recent column on this topic here). As the numbers of IoT devices in the world easily overtake the number of computers that have been traditionally attacked, this problem is only going to get worse, and make the selection of IoT software partners who know how to do security right that much more important.
WHERE DOES IOT GO FROM HERE?
As the industry matures, there is indeed tremendous pressure on connected product manufacturers to be able to deliver better, more useful products with built-in interoperability and ever-more sophisticated security. That’s why Arrayent has created a cloud ecosystem compatibility framework where we can treat devices that connect to other product and service provider clouds just as if they were natively connected through the Arrayent cloud.
If you’d like to learn more about how Arrayent has helped the world’s most trusted brands launch connected products and get closer to their customers, contact us here or at firstname.lastname@example.org.