It's hard to believe we are already just a few weeks away from 2018 and of course CES, the biggest technology show in the world. For the first time ever, the Z-Wave Pavilion will be located in the Sands Smart Home Marketplace along with our full walk-through Experience Home. In fact, we will have the largest footprint in the Sands at CES 2018 - a testament in a large part to the success of Z-Wave Alliance members in the growing smart home market.
Speaking of a growing market, what will the smart home look like next year? If 2017 showed us anything, it's that voice-powered devices with easy to grasp benefits and entertainment features were a crucial step in mainstream awareness of the connected home. But as we march towards larger adoption numbers, the industry has still yet to grapple with some key issues, including:
- Security: There has yet to be a rallying cry from many parties in this industry around the security of our devices - though Congress plans to start digging into it. The Z-Wave Pavilion will be full of devices coming out with Z-Wave S2 Security, the framework now mandatory on all new Z-Wave certified devices and will equip smart home products with rigorous protection from cyber intrusion.
- Standards - We're still seeing new protocols and platforms come to market in an effort to find a winning smart home standard. From our standpoint, Z-Wave is continuing to look for opportunities to work across platforms to make sure the consumer experience is simple. We have the tools we need to make interoperability and compatibility happen - let's focus on those and work together instead of continuing to fragment further and further.
Context - Voice control is exciting and driving a lot of noise and movement in our market which is great news. But voice as a user interface is still lacking some important elements that make it easy to use. Google Assistant is a good example of a voice platform getting better at adapting to spoken commands in ways that humans actually talk and not requiring such rigidity to take action.
What we still lack is context - there's still a need to tell your really smart voice assistant what room you're in when you ask it to turn on the lights. Contextual abilities across all devices will come with more and smarter sensors being deployed in the home but also in retail, commercial, hospitality and healthcare to allow humans to provide less input during the interaction with our technology.
With our biggest CES in just a few weeks, I can't imagine 2018 will be boring. We've enjoyed putting together our newsletter for you this year and we're excited to see what lies ahead. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!
January 9-12, 2018, Las Vegas, NV, USA
January 22-January 25, 2018, Orlando, FL
Media Partner - Use code ZWAVE25 for 25% off passes
January 30-February 1, 2018, Santa Clara, CA
Media Partner - Use code zwave for free expo and 20% off all access pass
February 6-February 9, 2018, Amsterdam
March 18-March 23, 2018, Frankfurt
April 11-April 13, 2018, Las Vegas, NV
Come Visit the Z-Wave Pavilion and Experience Home at #CES2018
CES 2018 is just around the corner and planning for the Z-Wave Pavilion and Experience Home (Sands 41717)
is well underway. This year we're excited to announce that the Pavilion and Experience Home are housed right across the walkway from one another to allow for greater accessibility and exposure for our members.
The Pavilion will include members exhibiting in their pods with product demos, demonstrations, conversations with representatives and more.
The Experience Home is a working demo smart home showcasing multi-brand smart home functionality and do-it-yourself products all running on Z-Wave.
We're looking forward to seeing new products and demos from members including:
Z-Wave Experience House
Who Will Control Voice Control?
by Lisa Chesters, Z-Wave Marketing Manager, Sigma Designs
Clearly adding voice control, via voice assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home to the smart home space has been a serious game-changer in 2017. We have seen a huge increase in the number of voice assistants on the market and when it comes to their role in impacting how people interact with their smart homes, we're very optimistic. These devices have a mass market appeal that resonates with a range of consumers, both old and young. Functionality, ease of use and entertainment combine in an affordable form factor that can live in any room of the house-it's great! Not since the onset of the smart phone has the way consumers interact with their smart homes been so disrupted. So what does this mean for us?
First, it means we have a great opportunity to transform the millions of households with voice assistants into Z-Wave smart homes. Recent marketing efforts have led with smart lighting control as a key benefit to these voice assistants and that will certainly create demand. As an effort to leverage this opportunity, Z-Wave.com created a landing page for consumers that own Amazon Echo products to help guide them, step-by-step, to building out a number of smart home solutions - like closing the garage door or putting the house in "energy savings" mode. I think 2018 will be the year for manufacturers, retailers, and installers to leverage the popularity of these voice assistants and get more Z-Wave products into more homes.
The second thing it means for 2018 is that competition will increase in this space-both on the hardware side, but also in the form of added product functionality. Personally, I think the latter will prove to be more remarkable and potentially more interesting to watch in the coming year. As developers continue to be creative and innovate complex IFTTT skills, the sky is the limit as to what combinations they will invent. When smart homes are optimized to work as a whole home system, consumers can create more customized commands more relevant to their life and household. When that begins, we also start to see the near future of an integrated predictive learning home - a home that will become increasingly customized to fit the unique ways consumers live and become even easier to interact with.
Tradeshow Marketing - Tips for Making the Most Out of Your Time at the Show
The CES show is well known for its size - 2018 will have over 4,000 exhibiting companies and over 7,000 register members of the press. The Z-Wave Alliance will host the Z-Wave Pavilion and Z-Wave Experience Home in the biggest smart home area in the Sands that will draw many members of the press and also offer opportunities to be promoted on the Alliance social media channels. Follow these tips to make the most out of your time at CES 2018!
Utilize social media to promote your company, news and location at CES. Pre-CES, post regularly that your company will be attending, and if you have news for the show, tease it out without giving important product specific information away. At the show, use your company's social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn) to share images and videos that are compelling and make press want to visit. This includes video demos, Facebook Live interviews and booth walk throughs, Instagram stories and other forms of engagement.
Include your location, booth number, #CES2018 hashtag
and any landmarks you are located near (such as the front entrance) so press can easily find your space. You should also share any media coverage you have received at the show on your social media profiles and share posts mentioning your company. Engage by retweeting relevant news and coverage of your company, and follow the #CES2018 hashtag for real-time updates from the show. Tag @ZWave_Alliance
when posting your Z-Wave news to be retweeted from the Alliance's Twitter account.
Along with drawing attention to your booth on social media at CES, be on the lookout for press walking the show floor. The media receive a color-coded badge, so you will easily be able to identify them. If press seem interested in your booth or demo, engage with them and show them your demo and explain what is new and what differentiates your product from others in the market. Be prepared for CES and have a press kit with your news, images, and any relevant information, along with materials on your company or new product that you can give to press, along with contact information in case they need to follow up after the show.
Use the CES press list to talk to press ahead but be prepared, they are inundated with news ahead of time. Carefully research what press might care most about smart home and your product specifically and pitch only them. Never send a blast email to the entire CES press list - this will get you black listed for sure. Focus on what is cool and different about your product and about how your product plays into the larger trends at the show and for 2018.
CES is a very noisy show and it takes a targeted strategy to rise above and get noticed. Don't forget to take the press coverage you receive and amplify it on social media long after CES is over to help get more eyes on each story.
Most importantly, drink a lot (of water) (and coffee), take pictures and videos, enjoy Vegas and the after parties & follow up with connections made after the show - all a recipe for a successful CES.
Smart Home Trends leading into 2018
Wow, what a year in smart home. A year of much promised, most delivered, and big changes across our ecosystem. And while the overall market growth was not what we had all hoped, consumers began to move beyond the 'hero' products and integrate more intelligence and control into their homes. We saw the continued growth in voice assistants like Amazon's growing family of Echo devices and Google Home, with voice becoming the preferred multi-user interface to the ecosystem. This past year market flirtations of true home intelligence faded from attention while upstarts and stalwarts alike refocused on home security with the launch of such products as Nest Secure, Amazon Key, Ring Protect and the Vivint microshops popping up in Best Buy stores everywhere.
What will change in 2018? What trends are peaking around the corner at CES next year? Already, smart home is trending as the 3rd most discussed topic in the early CES chatter on Twitter.
Given the focus on IoT and AI over smart home, there is hope that 2018 will see a significant enough install base for consumers to shift from a home control perspective to true smart home. Part of the reason upstarts have 'retreated' to security is the importance of having video data to drive intelligent actions by the home. Geo fencing based on cell phones works for simple scenarios of single occupant homes but more complex family situations require more contextual data by which to make informed decisions. Mom and Dad on a date night, drop the thermostat because their phones are not in the geofence and freeze out the babysitter and kids. Multi sensor environments will provide smart home AI systems with the context necessary to function more seamlessly.
The second trend that will impact smart home in 2018 starts in the kitchen but expands throughout the home as Smart Appliances move from simple coffee timers to more complex products designed to simplify homes. There has been a steady increase in Smart Appliances making their appearance at CES over the years with laundry folding robots and Whirlpool's notion of a smart kitchen that programs your microwave based on bar codes. There is an opportunity in 2018 to move beyond these barely stitched together home workflows and start to have devices collaborate to make our lives easier. Why press a Dash button when your washer knows how many loads it did since you last bought laundry soap? Why can't we scan a stain with our smartphone and get help returning our clothes to a pristine state? Asking a voice assistant for the next step in a recipe is helpful but why can't it also preheat the oven to the right temperature, remind us to start the salad course and suggest new recipes based on what the community agriculture cooperative delivered this week?
The last trend is one that has been lurking at the dark side of the market for a while, Security. While home security is a thriving segment in smart home, I am focused here on ecosystem security. The first two trends give over more agency to the devices in our home, the third ensures we are protected from bad actors trying to ruin our souffle at the least or ransack our homes at the worst. Given the growing number of attack surfaces in the home and the desire to coop computing resources to take on nefarious tasks like denial of service attacks (Mirai) or use your security camera to mine for Bitcoin, the balance between ease of use and robustness of protection has never been more difficult to achieve.
Overall, 2018 will be an incredible year for smart home. The balance between safety and fun will drive adoption. Companies that deliver experiences that reduce cognitive overhead (not just more things to control) will beat out ecosystems that just bolt on devices without regard to how it will transform our homes to fulfil the aspiration promise of smart home. Convenience will trump security until it does not. And eventually, HomePod will be launched.
Fake News Impacts The Internet of Things
Did you know that there are over one million tweets focused on the Internet of Things per month? Are you surprised by the fact that over 75% of those tweets are authored by accounts held captive by 'influencers?'
Twitter has become a critical open comments for the publishing and amplifying of positioning and open discussion of the issues of the data. Additionally, for many B2B markets, Twitter has become the public news wire where all the news that is fit to print is released. Beneath the hype of a million tweets, growing follower counts and digital teams frantically working to boost their retweet counts is a dark side to digital. Much has been made of fake news, regardless of which way your political winds blow, and it's impact on public perception.
It is not enough just to publish a piece of content that may or may not be fake but that content then needs to be amplified and distributed widely to have an impact. Traditionally there were clearer lines between paid placement and earned placement. If the adult supervision denoted by an editor or a journalist thought your content was worth sharing, then you and your brand received an authenticated boost in awareness. Within today's social media channels we've seen the rise of the 'influencer,' and individual or personality that touts their macro metrics, points to their robust audience and then peddles their services as an earnings boosters. These professional influencers promise that your message will be seen and amplified by their posse of targeted followers, eventually leading to increased awareness for your brand and revenue growth for your sales team.
In our own efforts to understand what is driving influence within the Internet of Things market, we dug into the dynamics of engagement across brands and accounts, looking at how each account contributes to the IoT chatter. The results were shocking. Over 75% of the IoT tweets of any given month are published by accounts captured by professional influencers. These accounts live only to amplify the messages of their benefactors. They have no original content of their own and do not engage in any sort of dialogue with the rest of the IoT market. In short, they are social livestock being milked for their ability to boost the influence of their 'owners,' typically being paid by brands to artificially boost client messages.
Here's the issue, the 'earned' metrics of these influencers are promoting your messages to fake accounts that have nothing to do with IoT other than that is the market their minder has them manufacturing retweets, likes and followers for. Much of the effort of these influencers is to amplify their own messages ahead of their clients, resulting in higher than average narcissism and the loss of any real influence on the market. Let's take a popular influence, Bob Smith (name changed to protect the guilty). Bob has been noted across several influencer reports as being a key thought leader and influencer in the Internet of Things. I am sure he has followed and unfollowed many of the readers of this article in his efforts to influence the influence rankings.
During a the first week of November, Bob published 826 tweets (about 5 tweets an hour, 24 hours a day), 292 were retweets, over one third. Bob was busy, but not as busy as his posse of captured accounts. His content for that week was retweeted 6918 times, almost a thousand times a day! On the surface that means that Bob has great content, he's a key influencer in IoT, right? Here is where it gets crazy. Of Bob's 7k retweets, 85% were retweeted from captured accounts, accounts with no will of their own. The accounts that retweeted Bob's content were responsible for over 400k of the 608k IoT tweets published that week. These captured accounts used by Bob and others publish 99.9% retweets. Bob himself has a narcissism score of 20% meaning that one in five of his tweets mention himself. Is that influence or just crass self promotion?
Our attention is being bought and sold by these influencers. And it's getting worse. Working with these influencers does not means your content is reaching prospects. It is the equivalent of click farms grinding through your Google Ads to put the competition at the top spot and bleed your ad budget dry. We need better ways, as a market, to measure the true influence and to help each other authentically engage in the market to drive awareness and growth. To continue to rely on the broken metrics of follower counts and blind retweet volumes is to give over our market to the machines and those nefarious actors being paid to do so. The next time you get pitched by an 'influencer,' check to see to see if their following is real and contains the prospects and thought leaders you are seeking to engage with. We will all benefit from a bit more skepticism and diligence.