RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • The smart home should make our lives easier, safer and better. But instead it is stuck in project mode, suspended in early-adopter limbo and without mass-market adoption.
  • Companies have taken a product-focused instead of a human-centric approach and they don't fully understand who their customer is and what they want.
  • This research is a new way of looking at how people live at home and outlines how building on trust and relevance will be vital to success.


The smart home was intended to make consumers’ lives easier, safer, and more enriching but despite substantial hype and industry investment, it remains stubbornly under construction. Smart home technology is yet to be fully adopted by consumers and remains largely the preserve of early adopters.

The problem is that most companies are taking a product-focused rather than a human-centric approach and they are not getting a comprehensive view of people’s needs in the home.

A new look inside the future home

Bringing together a multi-disciplinary team at The Dock—Accenture's global R&D and Innovation Centre—we designed a program of research and experimentation to challenge the conventional approach to product design and marketing for the smart home.

We wanted to ask fundamental questions such as who are the customers for the future home? What do they really want? And how do companies overcome people’s key contemporary concerns about how their data is collected and used?

We have the technology to build the future home but it remains stubbornly under construction

Our approach

We combined detailed qualitative research with substantial quantitative research to dig deep into the complexities of how people live at home. We also built a set of eight mindsets that covers a diverse spectrum of personality and attitudes towards technology in the home, and gives executives a new foundation on which to build success in the future home.

40

people directly observed in their homes through contextual enquiry

6,050

individuals surveyed across 13 geographies

Making the future home a reality

Our findings give companies a new perspective from which to design and build products and services that transform the future home from a remote futuristic concept to a relevant human reality. Based on this work, we’ve reached three main conclusions. Download the report for our full findings.

  1. The future home is an attitude, not a technology.
    With people spending more time at home than ever before, now is the time to act to better understand their behavior and the opportunities it presents. Our respondents universally describe home as a place of comfort, safety and being in control. However, a deeper exploration of these topics show that the individual needs and feelings around these words have vastly different meanings to people.
  2. With emerging tech comes emerging tensions.
    The market has long been aware that people feel both more connected and more isolated thanks to smart home technologies. But our research reveals how firmly rooted these and other tensions are, and draws fresh, surprising conclusions about what they mean for the smart-home market.
  3. Typical customer archetypes are wrong.
    At the core of the problem with the future home is that most companies design products for a simplified customer archetype. The reality is that, in a world of hyperpersonalization, there is no such archetypal future home customer. Everyone has a different concept of what home should be and should communicate to the outside world. For example, the group most positive and trusting of technology are aged 65 years or more—which is precisely the part of the market that many tech companies have been neglecting.

85%

of respondents now spend the same amount or more time at home as they did five years ago

43%

of respondents aged 18 to 34 are fearful that smart devices know too much about them, indicating that their deepest concerns are around trust and intrusiveness despite being perceived as a more tech-savvy generation

25%

respondents aged 65+ are worried about the addictive nature of technology, the lowest figure across all age groups

Trust, control and relevance

The issues uncovered by this research are fundamental to any product design and marketing strategy for the smart home. Our research on tensions shows that people are resigned to the fact that they need to share their personal data in order to use certain smart-home products and services, but they struggle with this reality. The companies that go beyond data protection and earn their trust by combining true relevance with a rationalization of these tensions will be the pioneers of success in this space.

Decision points for executives

There is a significant opportunity to develop a future home offering that’s built to last, reinforced by the presence of several untapped markets in the space. As companies begin this journey, here are decision points for executives to consider.

  • How does your smart home customer fit in with our research on the future home?
  • Does your marketing talent understand the complexities of the home customer?
  • Are you aware of the smart home tensions and are you mitigating them?

Rachel Earley

Interaction and Service Design Lead – The Dock


Iana Vassileva

Market and Competitive Intelligence Research Lead – The Dock


Laurence Mackin

Editor and Content Lead – The Dock

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