We just came back from our Z-Wave Spring Summit in Amsterdam and I can confidently say that Z-Wave is on the move in Europe across almost every country. This year's event was particularly momentous as it was the first gathering since Silicon Labs acquired Z-Wave and we welcomed Silicon Labs CEO Tyson Tuttle on stage for an introduction followed by a Q&A session. I think everyone in Z-Wave ecosystem felt positive about Silicon Labs' dedication to continuing to support the technology and ways they will help foster more growth and penetration in the coming years. If you didn't have the chance to travel to Amsterdam for the event, or you're not (yet) a Z-Wave Alliance member, check out Tyson's discussion with Rich Nass of Embedded Computing Design to hear his take.
We were lucky to have FutureSource analyst Jack Wetherill onsite to deliver the opening keynote and share some insights from the group's latest consumer survey. Jack discussed areas that are driving smart home adoption currently - security and monitoring continue to lead the way in terms global usage, but climate control is a huge demand driver in Europe. And not surprisingly, lighting is the fastest growing category. If you think of the first thing most consumers buy to connect to their smart speakers - Alexa, turn off the lights - it makes sense. We explore more from Jack's presentation in the "By the numbers" section later in the newsletter.
The discussions, panels and talks over the two-day event in the Sales & Marketing Track included a look at what's happening in the retail space and how European smart home brands are taking different approaches to try to explain the benefits of connected living to consumers. While companies sometimes disagree on the approach to marketing and bundling smart home solutions, there was a consensus among Marketing track attendees that the industry is still struggling to help consumers understand why they need smart devices in a retail location.
We've seen increased adoption for specific technologies in European countries with stricter regulations around things like energy savings. Several participants pointed out that in places like France where there are policies around reducing energy consumption, the market has seen an increase in the roll-out of energy management products and services.
We were also excited to welcome tech journalist Kate Russell from BBC Click to the Summit - Kate's been covering tech for close to twenty years and moderated a panel about future trends and opportunities for brands. While smart speakers came up quite a bit, some thought they would continue to be a critical component of market growth while others felt they are overhyped and we are in the very early stages of what role AI will play in the smart home.
Our member summits continue to grow year after year and have become one of the top destinations to network, learn, offer insight and connect across the smart home industry. If you're been on the fence about becoming an Alliance member, now is the time to sign up - Fall Summit planning in the U.S. is well underway!
- Mitchell Klein, executive director, Z-Wave Alliance
May 14 - May 17, 2018, Santa Clara, CA
Members receive 15% off registration with code: ZWAVE15
June 4 - June 7, 2018, Bilbao, Spain
Members receive discounted partner pricing with code: IOTPAR
Members receive £200 off registration with code: 4919ZWAVE200
June 11 - June 12, 2018, London, UK
September 6 - September 8, 2018, San Diego, CA
June 12 - June 14, 2018, London, UK
Members receive 20% off registration with code: IOTZWAVE
Member Pavilion Space Available
October 16 - October 19, 2018 Tokyo, Japan
Member Pavilion Space Available
The European Smart Home - Consumer Perspective
Smart home looks different in every global market. Each region or country has different demands, needs and trends that manufacturers can identify to help better design and market their products and services. What appeals to a homeowner in the U.S. may not be relevant to or resonate with consumers in Europe or Asia. Here are some European smart home adoption trends that manufacturers should keep in mind when creating and promoting their devices:
Safety and Security
According to a recent report from Parks Associates
, safety and security are top priorities for European consumers considering smart home systems. When marketing your products, consider how the device can protect a consumer's home. For example, if you manufacture smart lighting, try external messaging via social media or your website around the benefits of lighting that can be used to deter would-be burglars. One such benefit is the ability for consumers to create scenes that include lighting patterns to make a home appear occupied when it isn't, or light the pathway from the car to the door when coming home from work.
Parks Associates also found that the percentage of multifamily housing in Western Europe is much higher than the estimated 35% in the U.S. These consumers are looking for products that they can install themselves, that don't require hardwiring or permanent installation, and that they can take with them when they move on to their next home. A focus on more portable smart technology like hubs, sensors, and lighting is more likely to resonate with those living in apartments. Think about designing products so they don't need tools to set up and can be easily mounted using adhesives.
EU Regulatory Framework
The EU's Energy Efficiency Directive
has set rules and obligations designed to improve energy efficiency in Europe. Most smart home products work to reduce energy usage in some way, so think about how your products can work in line with the Energy Efficiency Directive. For example, a smart thermostat can lower energy bills, dimmable bulbs can establish more comfortable lighting while using less energy, and numerous smart plugs can tell consumers if the energy is high just by looking at their smart phone. Compliance with the Energy Efficiency Directive offers a powerful proof point to European consumers.
As explained in a recent report from Elsevier
, many Europeans are worried about data privacy and protection. Because many smart home devices collect data to learn about consumer habits and living patterns, it is vital that the devices consumers bring into their homes are protected against harmful cyber-attacks and hacking. Communicating the benefits of Z-Wave's S2 Security framework as the most advanced security for smart home products in the market today is a powerful proof point for smart home adoption.
Congratulations to the 2018 Z-Wave Smarty Award Winners
First annual Smarty Awards were given out at the Z-Wave Spring Summit in Amsterdam
Unpacking the Facebook Privacy Crisis:
The Impact on Brands + Digital Marketing Efforts
By: Alexandra Gil, Caster Communications
It's hard to look anywhere online these days without seeing news about Facebook and the Cambridge Analytica data scandal and subsequent litigation. If you haven't followed the news, here's the gist in a nutshell: Cambridge Analytica, a data mining and analytics firm, is accused of misusing user data from as many as 50 million Facebook users in violation of Facebook's terms of service. A number of steps have been taken including founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg's testimony during a joint congressional hearing in early April where he was extensively questioned about the scandal and what steps Facebook would take to remedy and prevent future problems. (The Verge has an incredibly in-depth series on the news if you're looking for more information.)
In response to the scandal, Facebook has announced several new initiatives, including adjustments to their privacy settings page that includes shortcuts designed to make it simpler to navigate, as well as the ability to enable two-factor authentication, control what users share, manage post visibility and learn about ad preferences. Senators have also proposed legislation designed to address various aspects of the use of Facebook, including giving consumers greater access to and control over their data, including opting out and disabling data tracking and collection.
What does this mean for companies and brands that use social media to communicate with existing and potential customers? For one, it may impact the way consumers view Facebook and the content that brands share with them. There's no denying that the breach will cause many users to distrust content that is shared from a brand online. This negative view can have a trickle-down impact with retainment of followers or reduce a message's impact with potential followers. Users are now able to see advertisers with their information, which can also cause deeper frustration and distrust. Brands should avoid overly-promotional, self-serving content; consumers will want to see brands with an authentic voice, that don't come across too gimmicky or advertorial and have their best interests in mind. Transparency and honest, open communication with followers is key to establishing a trusted brand voice.
Changes to the access users have to ads that appear in their Facebook feed will have an impact on consumer brands, and rumors have circulated that Facebook is considering a paid, ad-free option to the platform. Greater access to the ads they see (or don't see) coupled with the possibility of an ad-free option mean that brands need to reevaluate their ad messaging and strategy. Ads should be highly-targeted, to an audience that is most engaged with your content and content like yours, and give users incentive to click through. Paid content that appears native or part of your message across Facebook is most likely to resonate with users, and once a consumer has seen value in an advertisement once, they are more likely to keep a brand on their whitelist.
No matter what changes come to Facebook in the future, remaining consistent, honest, and providing consumers with messages and solutions that matter most to them will continue to be the way to create a loyal customer base in the future.
A Dive Into Consumer Research from FutureSource
Earlier this month we hosted the annual Z-Wave Summit Europe, on May 3-4 in Amsterdam. The Summit kicked off with a keynote from Jack Wetherill of FutureSource, a research and analysis group, highlighting the findings from their 2018 Smart Home and Appliances Consumer Survey.
The annual survey delves into the journeys that consumers make into buying, installing and using smart home devices, and Jack shared findings on emerging trends such as voice control and assistants, device preferences, and obstacles to adoption. Comfort, energy efficiency and time-savings were all cited as reasons for interest in the smart home, and the survey found that the frequency of smart speaker use is increasing across the US, UK, Germany and France - over 41% of those surveyed use their smart speaker every day compared to just 32% in 2017.
From the FutureSource blog:
The Futuresource Consumer Smart Home study took representative households across the UK, France, Germany and the US and assessed ownership, perceptions and use of smart home and smart appliances.
"Smart speakers led the field in terms of popularity and adoption, closely followed by climate control, which has become the most common first installation - slightly ahead of security, lighting and smart monitoring devices, such as smoke detectors," commented Filipe Oliveira, Market Analyst at Futuresource Consulting. "Climate control was more favoured by the European respondents and is typically the most common first step into the smart home implementation across all markets. It is no wonder that big tech firms such as Google and Microsoft have an interest in smart climate control," added Oliveira.
But what is happening in terms of the 'Smart Home' voice assistant Trojans race? According to Futuresource, Amazon is leading the land grab, especially in the USA and UK. However, it is being challenged by Google in markets like France, where the Amazon Echo has a problem with "ne parle pas Français", hence the multilingual Google Home is getting approval in non-English speaking markets.
FutureSource's full write up and study can be found on their site.
Powerley Raises The Bar In HEM Security And Interoperability
By: Matt Mowat, Powerley
What are the top two pain points threatening the adoption of smart home and energy management solutions? Those would be security and interoperability. While we want everything to just work together with little effort, and especially want our connected homes to remain uncompromised, it hasn't been easy to achieve. Both security and interoperability have been major hurdles for the smart home to reach mass appeal. But that is now changing thanks to Z-Wave and Powerley.
Securing HEM and the Smart Home
The security of smart homes remains the #1 concern among consumers. According to a recent survey by PwC, the biggest barrier to smart home adoption (next to price) is concern over device and data security. Consumers are afraid that their smart home devices could be hacked, putting their personal lives on display for the world to see. This is stifling the adoption of smart home and energy management technologies. By ensuring utility customers that their energy management technology is just as secure as the smart grid, we can remove these hurdles and deliver connectivity to the masses.
Z-Wave, the leader in smart home protocols, has raised the bar of IoT security by setting a new standard with the S2 framework - elevating interoperability and delivering the highest level of protection, along with faster connections and better battery life. Through Z-Wave for IP or Z/IP gateway, the Powerley Energy Bridge implements the S2 protocol to connect and control S2 devices, making Powerley the first home energy management solution worldwide to integrate this new standard. By incorporating the highest level of security in IoT, Powerley has extended the robustness of the grid across every device connection in the home. Now, energy providers and their customers can have greater peace of mind. And at the same time, they can gain a smart home and energy management experience that rivals leading smart home hubs.
From Smart Devices to a Truly Connected Smart Home
Second to security, we want our smart homes to...well, "just work." We don't want to conduct research for ten hours to figure out which wireless protocol works for each and every bulb, switch and camera. We just want it to all work together in harmony and with the least amount of effort. The new Z-Wave Plus certification improves interoperability between smart home devices to create a more connected and integrated smart home. The result - Powerley can be compatible with over 1,000+ Z-Wave devices including thermostats, switches, sensors, bulbs, outlets and door locks. In addition, the Energy Bridge supports super-sized networks - handling as many as 232 devices in one home.
The Utility Driven Smart Home Just Got Better
The future of the smart home and HEM is here, as everything begins to work and performs better together. With the new Z-Wave standard, smart homes connect faster, allow for easier setup and save more power. And through an improved range of 67% and 250% more bandwidth, the Powerley Energy Bridge can now connect to devices faster and easier than ever before. Leveraging the S2 framework, customers can enjoy plug-n-play functionality and remove the friction of complicated device installations. And with the reduction of wireless data transfer, the new standard has delivered battery life improvements by 50%.
The next big wave of smart home adoption will only occur when we remove the hurdles that matter most to consumers. The new Z-Wave S2 framework opens this door to greater adoption by securing trust in our technology while eliminating friction from every interaction. As the only home energy management solution with this new standard, Powerley has helped utilities offer a superior energy management solution that extends the smart grid into the smart home.
To be kept informed on innovations in the smart grid and smart home, visit the Powerley website and subscribe to get updates.