that manages interactive services and integrates with central station
monitoring through a virtual receiver and agnostic gateway connection
to the customer’s control. SecureNet’s hardware partner is Resolution
Products, Hudson, Wis.
“Security contractors who don’t offer interactive services will be
behind the curve,” he said. “They can upsell from their basic security
package, increasing recurring monthly revenue [RMR]. From the cus-
tomer side, homeowners like the idea of having additional, exciting
features. They like the fact that they can have security and, yes, can
do all these other cool things with their systems, including video to
check in on the home or its occupants.”
Dave Mayne, vice president of marketing for Resolution Prod-
ucts, said professionally monitored security system providers are
experiencing strong growth in interactive services. Mayne said Res-
olution Products partners with SecureNet to provide the hardware.
Through its Helix wireless solution, Resolution offers new applications and retrofit technology through an interactive gateway
module that interfaces with most existing security controls. Helix
is a standalone radio frequency identification (RFID) system that
provides interactive services through tablets and smartphones
that operate as the system control. Mayne calls the technology
a gateway to interactive services.
“If you look at the major providers in the security industry,
the top 10 companies all lead with interactive services because
it drives RMR,” Mayne said. “Adding interactive services also
keeps account-creation costs lower. In addition, the more
homeowners interact with and use their system, the greater
chances of longevity with that customer.”
Changing the paradigm
According to Mayne, the best way to approach selling in-
teractive services is to start with security because it makes
the most sense to the customer.
“I don’t think you have to say ‘interactive services,’”
Mayne said. “When you put the security in, you show
the customer how to use the security and then the ways
they can manage their life and their home with the de-
vice. The device they’ll use most often is the smartphone
to check in and operate controls. Especially with 20- and 30-year-olds, the
security system they look for today is something that feels like it’s in the
phone. The phone or the tablet or that device in their pocket is the tool
that will make everything happen.”
Peter Giacalone, president of Giacalone Associates LLC, New York,
said contractors have to look at offering connected gateways or interactive
services not as an option but as a culture.
“The technical part is easy,” he said. “The toughest part is marketing
and sales because that’s where the paradigm shift occurs. Interactive
services means different things to different people, but security is always
part of it, a big part or a little part.”
Giacalone said the market for lifestyle services is set to heat up over
the next several years. Tremendous growth is expected.
“It’s become nearly hardware-agnostic, and connectivity through
Electrical contractors with security and low-voltage divisions are in a
smartphones is the golden rule,” he said. “Those contractors who aren’t
having success with it most likely are doing something wrong. There’s no
reason for it. It’s a different ecosystem, and it’s all married together and
plays together. When Comcast first entered the business, they called their
service Xfinity Home Security. Then they changed the name to Xfinity
Home. It’s all about a gateway to support everything, and you pay for
what you want. It’s a residential gateway that ties in video, security, audio,
energy management and more all in one place.”
The best way for contractors to position the service is to listen closely
to the customer.
“You need to listen,” Giacalone said. “You turn wants into needs.
Prospects aren’t going to ask for lighting controls. You need to show them
what light modules can do, so they can look at the technology and others
and see all the cool stuff they can do with it.”
Greg Blackett, senior product manager for Tyco Security Products, To-
ronto, agreed that interactive services are becoming mainstream and the
more products appeal to a broader lifestyle, the more people will feel
compelled to buy them.
“The smart home has grown from a niche segment,” he said. “First it
was only purchased by high-end homeowners, but now it’s become main-
stream. Interactive services can be an entire solution or a single product,
so there’s scale to the technology.”
Blackett said the rise of interactive services has broadened the defi-
nition of security and increased use across a diverse customer base. He
advised contractors to start with security in their sales efforts.
“Electrical contractors offering security are in a great position,” he
said. “If they are familiar with a certain core security platform, there is
most likely an extension of that for interactive services, such as a simple
app or access to a couple key features. Customers might want to see
motion-detection alerts on their phone, for example. It’s not like they have
to bring in a totally new solution, but they might want to manage a couple
different platforms or apps. They can scale it up from there.”
According to Alan Patterson, director of product marketing for IControl
Networks in Austin, Texas, consumers still find security most attractive.
As such, it drives mass-market adoption for the smart home.
“Our research indicates 54 percent of U. S. homeowners plan to buy at
least one smart-home product in the next year,” Patterson said. “We also
found that consumers don’t want fancy products but rather simple devices
that significantly improve their quality of life. We believe high-value de-
vices are here to stay, where those without substantial user benefit may
not be around long.”
Patterson said customer experience is a key driver of connected home
services adoption. Although smart technology is constantly improving,
using products can be intimidating at first.
“Contractors should take the time to educate homeowners on the
proper usage of smart technology,” he said. “For example, interactive se-
curity systems offer the capability to automate multiple functions through
a ‘rules’ engine. By taking a few extra minutes during system setup to
show the homeowner how to configure rules, the contractor can help the
homeowner avoid frustration as well as speed up the learning curve.”
He also advised contractors to steer homeowners toward devices that
deliver the most benefit, enhancing the homeowner’s sense of security or
delivering cost savings (video cameras, thermostats and lighting control).
great position to sell residential interactive services. Listen to what the
prospect says about how they live and what they want to do so you can
deliver the right services—but always start with security.
O’MARA is the owner of DLO Communications, www.
dlocommunications.com, specializing in writing services for
the low-voltage and systems integration industries. She can be
reached at email@example.com or 847.384.1916.