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 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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?