Successful software is never “finished”. Successful software iterates by incrementally adding new dimensions over time, strengthening its bond with existing customers in the process. And it grows by combining with other products and services in order to reach new customers.
The greatest shortcoming of current household products is the information gap between manufacturers and service providers on one side, and the product consumers on the other side. Manufacturers and service providers don’t really know how users are using their products (that is, they don’t have access to large sets of quantified usage data), and users have no frictionless channel for informing manufacturers and service providers about what works and what doesn’t.
Perhaps the single greatest benefit of connected products is that they enable us to solve this timeless problem once and for all. Usability tools that provide insight on how consumers use connected product apps and data analytics platforms that analyze device data are vital tools in bridging the gap between product designs and user desires. With these tools manufacturers and service providers can finally eliminate the guesswork involved in product design by basing their decisions upon concrete and tangible usage patterns. And by constantly engaging customers with new, useful features, product manufacturers and service providers can convert passive customers into loyal brand evangelists.
Take 3M’s Wi-Fi thermostat, available at the The Home Depot, as an example. This thermostat was designed and manufactured by Golden Power. The first iteration of the application focused on the core value proposition of any connected thermostat product, a simple and intuitive monitor and control interface. Later on, after making sure that their core value proposition was rock solid, Golden Power partnered with Energy Hub, a startup that specializes in aggregating demand response data to monetize apps, to enable demand response functionality in the app. This enabled The Home Depot to market this new feature as an optional opportunity for consumers to save money on their bills by opting in to the utility provider’s demand response program.
Iterating upon existing features and adding new features is a great strategy for captivating existing users, but it does little for acquiring new customers. The key to growing your customer base is combining your product with other products and services to create interesting and unexpected value propositions.
The partnership between Golden Power and Energy Hub mentioned above is an example of one of the many new dynamics possible. Our customer Chamberlain offers demonstrates another opportunity. About six months ago Chamberlain integrated their garage door openers into Alarm.com’s home security offerings. It was a win-win for everyone. Alarm.com added a critical home appliance to their product portfolio, Chamberlain gained exposure to a whole new highly-targeted and relevant market. And the customers of Alarm.com gained the added convenience of a new product that can be controlled from their single Alarm.com application.
By Kayce Basques