Z-Wave Fall Summit Recap - Our Best Summit Yet!
By: Mitchell Klein, executive director, Z-Wave Alliance
You probably missed it. Assuming I'm right, you really skipped out on some great content, inspired presentations and of course the networking, which is always valuable for everyone.
As many of you may know, twice a year the Z-Wave Alliance holds the Z-Wave Summit, an event taking place in both Europe and the US to bring together marketers, product designers and developers, integrators, decision-makers and other members to discuss the state of the market and opportunities for Z-Wave.
The Z-Wave Fall Summit
was held this year in Philadelphia, September 24-26 and sponsored by Bulogics/Stratis, Acte, Leedarson, PlumChoice, Yale, Equinox . The event is split into two tracks - business/marketing and technical - each with content directed toward the different audiences. Attendees listened to and participated in a series of engaging panels, fireside chats, and workshops led by industry leaders and peers on smart home and IoT. Throughout the Summit, attendees gain valuable knowledge on market trends from thought leaders and analysts and hear about case studies and implementing Z-Wave in different IoT applications.
The Fall Summit welcomed attendees across the Z-Wave ecosystem and featured a keynote by Katelyn Mason of Google on The Future of the Intelligent Interactions, that included insight into future products that will take advantage of ambient computing and contextual awareness. She discussed the success and importance of Google Assistant partnerships with smart home manufacturers and Google's three key principles for the smart home: human-centric, accessible and meaningful, and built for everyone.
On Day 1, the business/marketing track kicked off with IoT Table Talks, a networking activity that brought together Summit attendees to work in teams on how they would approach various smart home related scenarios, then moved into afternoon sessions focused on smart home trends, go-to-market strategies, and evolving smart home technology like the implementation of AI from Alex Capecelatro, co-founder and CEO of Josh.ai. Ben Arnold, Sr. Director of Innovations & Trends for the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) presented early research findings that say a whopping 36% of consumers plan to buy smart home gear this holiday season, and the go-to-market panel including Ring, Qolsys, PlumChoice and CTA discussed the new challenges in bringing devices to market as the smart home ecosystem grows and matures.
On the technical track, Day 1 attendees learned about the new Z-Wave 700-series chipset with training on the new, long range, low power and future-proof hardware platform and information on product roadmaps and specifications associated with the new series. Both beginner and advanced level training was held by Silicon Labs certification and engineering management on how to get started with Z-Wave certification and how to use Z-Wave gateways such as Z/IP and Z-Ware.
The day concluded with the much-anticipated member networking evening event at a local brewery with food trucks (Philly Cheesesteaks!) - and of course the high energy performance by The Interoperables - the Z-Wave Rocks Band!
Day 2 of the business/marketing track kicked off with discussions around insurance and the smart home, and the emerging opportunities for growth in the industry and a panel on smart home and insurance, exploring the complexities involved in providing smart home products to policy holders, followed by a presentation from Johan Pedersen, product marketing manager for Z-Wave IoT at Silicon Labs on why the new 700 series chipset will help drive new devices and applications in the smart home. After lunch, Grant Clauser, Senior Editor for Wirecutter spoke in a fireside chat that offered attendees a look into the press perspective on what makes a great smart home product.
VP Ashley Daigneault discussed the state of social media after 2018 and how new privacy implications will have a big impact on how brands communicate on Facebook and other platforms, and Felicite Moorman for Stratis/Bulogics presented a case study that explored the MDU opportunities in the smart home market that focused on how connected home is moving beyond individual residential deployments to multi-family dwellings and apartment complexes. Evolve Controls ended the day with a case study that explored the growing opportunity for connected technology in hospitality settings.
This year's Fall Summit saw our highest number of attendees to date and feedback was overwhelmingly positive with many members saying this event was among their favorites and left them with a lot of information to bring back to their respective companies.
Thanks very much for all of your support and we can't wait for our next Europe Summit coming soon in May - watch for details to come and opportunities to get involved over the next few months.
Don't miss it again.
October 29 - October 30, 2018 Atlanta, GA
Receive 20% off ticket price with code ZWAVE20.
October 31 - November 1, 2018 Minneapolis, MN
Receive 20% off ticket price with code zwave
November 28 - November 29, 2018 Santa Clara, CA
Receive 20% off ticket price with code ZWAVE20
November 28 - November 30, 2018 Chicago, IL
Receive $200 off ticket price with code Z-Wave200
January 8- January 11, 2019 Las Vegas, NV
Member Pavilion Space Available
February 5 - February 9, 2019 Amsterdam, Netherlands
Member Pavilion Space Available
An integrator's perspective on the Z-Wave Fall Summit
I was privileged to be able to attend Z-Wave's Fall Summit 2018 in Philadelphia at the end of September. Due to a scheduling conflict, I was only able to attend Monday evening and the first full day of the summit, but what a full and educational day I had!
As an integrator member, I was pleased to see the attendees embrace and communicate openly with an installer/user in a very open and inclusive manner. During the Monday evening Welcome Networking event, I was able to speak with a wide variety of manufacturers, consultants and engineers who were interested in our company's business model, what we were currently using in Z-Wave products and what we could use and envision in the future. I hope that some of these budding relationships will grow into some collaboration on products and or services that my company and others can embrace and use to provide successful outcomes to our clients and caregivers.
While neither of the planned Developer or Sales and Marketing tracks were specifically geared toward integrators, I found the opening keynote from Google's Katelyn Mason very informative as to what direction they are taking in addressing the connected home. As the two tracks began taking shape during the morning, a very detailed and interesting discussion ensued during the IoT table talks involving real world connected home scenarios in the Sales and Marketing track. It is always interesting to see the various views of how manufacturers see their products integrating into various daily use situations. The most interesting for me was Alex Capecelatro's talk on incorporating AI into the connected home. His explanation of his company's direction in incorporating machine learning and predictive analysis made my experience well worthwhile. I found many of my fellow attendees were very interested in home health, aging in place and addressing the needs of multigenerational family units.
I have a great interest in indoor air quality, and it would be great to have future sessions on how sensors and apps were in the residential building trades can use to make our home more livable. Currently Building Codes keep making our homes tighter with fewer air exchanges in order to reduce energy use to heat and cool. However, when the air exchange rate falls below four (4) exchanges per hour, then we begin to see indoor air quality fall and more health and building issues increase. Next Summit I'd love to learn more about how we can monitor and use technology to bring in the correct amount of outside air while continuing to manage and maintain energy usage.
Overall, the Fall Summit was eventful and well worth the trip. The balance between sessions and networking really allowed for me as an integration member to meet, learn from and offer experiences to the greater Z-Wave community. Thank you for including me this year.
How retailers can prepare for the coming holiday season
The holiday season for retailers is already underway and for those with an ecommerce presence, it is one of the most important times of year for sales and customer growth. Simplr, a service that lets e-commerce startups design an outsourced and on-demand customer service solution that meets the needs of their business, offers a few tips from their holiday survival guide on how retailers can best optimize their presence online to ensure higher sales and more satisfied customers.
Customer service is critical for e-commerce
It goes without saying that customer service is one of the most valuable tools in a small business's arsenal. This is particularly true during the holidays, when customers come out in droves to browse, click, fret, vacillate, freak out about 2-day shipping and...hopefully... click "complete purchase" on your site. A solid customer service strategy will steer even the most erratic holiday shopper straight to your payment page. This is what we in the customer service biz like to call pre-sales support, and it's an absolute must for the holidays.
A smaller e-commerce store with a proven record of stellar customer support can consistently compete with the major retailers. And during the holiday free-for-all, every competitive edge counts. A few best practices include: be fast, be empathetic, be everywhere - that means using multiple channels like social media, email, phone, live chat, to reach customers.
People are browsing on mobile, but purchasing on desktop.
Now more than ever, customers are using multiple devices to make their online purchases. However, mobile accounts for just 38% of revenue, despite accounting for 59% of all browsing sessions. To put it simply: Consumers are browsing on their phones, but actually making the purchase on their desktops.
Why? According to eMarketer customers just generally prefer to use a PC for purchases; and have expressed concerns about the security and usability of their mobile devices.
Remember: your payment page should be as easy on mobile as it is on desktop and there needs to be a seamless cart transition from mobile to desktop
Make sure people can find you.
In not-so-shocking news: Google delivers 69% of website traffic and 67% of website revenue. If you're not on top of your Google game, don't worry. There's still time to brush up. Here are three quick ways to get started: Make your product pages as good as your actual product; great product descriptions, photos, and reviews go a long way; build backlinks with media coverage; put on your Mad Men hat; and write some amazing ad copy for your meta tags. Or, you can always hire a pro to optimize your presence on Google.
You don't have to offer discounts on your products
Offering an eye-popping discount on Black Friday sounds like a great way to market your product and attract new customers. But Charles Gaudet, CEO of Predictable Profits, has some tried-and-true advice for smaller e-commerce retailers: Don't do it.
Yes, all the Big Box stores drastically slash prices throughout Q4. But the Big Box stores are operating on a completely different playing field. As Gaudet points out, the reason big retailers discount their products is because they're selling undifferentiated goods. They're competing with fellow behemoths and are trying to drive as much traffic as possible into their stores.
It's much more valuable for smaller retailers to increase the perceived value of their products. How? Here are some suggestions:
- "Buy one get one" deals
- Bundling products/services into one package.
- Offering a payment plan. If you have premium services, a 0% interest rate is an enticing offer.
How GDPR will impact social and digital in 2019
By: Ashley Daigneault, VP, Caster Communications
Last month, I gave a talk at the Z-Wave Summit about how the new GDPR regulations, Facebook's privacy scandals and how the social media landscape looks different in 2019. For those unfamiliar, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new data privacy regulation that aims to give individuals in the EU protection and control over their personal data. This affects how businesses can collect and use personal data and the policy took effect in the EU on May 25, 2018.
A few people asked - if it's an EU based policy, why should we worry if we're in the US? The truth is, GDPR is applicable to any organization with personal data of EU citizens and residents. So if you are a business with customers in the EU, the GDPR will be applicable to you when you are handling personal data of your EU customers.
But let's back up a little. Prior to GDPR and the Facebook scandal that surfaced allegations towards a 3rd party data firm called Cambridge Analytica. When it came to light that personally identifiable data had been harvested and sold - and then used - illegally to advertise during the 2016 election. Facebook's entire data and API policies came under scrutiny and a larger national conversation began about the right to privacy and how social media platforms use consumer data.
Between Facebook and GDPR regulations, consumer across the globe are thinking different about how brands and companies are using their data and what they are willing to share and not share when given the option.
But the good news is, this heightened awareness can actually work in your favor. Here's why.
- Greater trust: Your customers will know what data of theirs is collected and how it will be used.
- Better email engagement: Only people who are interested in and who choose to opt-in to your email will receive your content.
- Improved marketing experience: Better experience for consumers online = more receptive to ads / campaigns.
This will benefit all businesses that do online marketing. The time is now for brands to lead the way in transparency. Whether you are collecting data for marketing purposes or - you're a smart home brand that wants to be clear with how you are using your customer's data - don't wait until a scandal breaks or questions about the security and privacy of their information is called into question.
To read more about GDPR, check out resources here.
To learn more about how Facebook is changing in response to privacy concerns and 3rd party data, read more here.
Why Consumer Smart Home Adoption Relies on Retail
By: Mitchell Klein, executive director, Z-Wave Alliance
If you walk into any big box home improvement or electronics store today, you'll likely find a full aisle dedicated to smart home products and solutions. You may find a lot of the same brands and devices, but the main difference between these retailers is where and how they place these devices within their store's layout and how well they help their customers understand the value proposition of a smart device. Consumer education is key to expanding the use of IoT into the modern home - and retailers sit on the front lines of that effort.
It's no secret that retailers have struggled in trying to sell the smart home within the confines of their traditional setups. In some home improvement stores, there may be a smart home aisle with a smattering of products placed across the shelves, sometimes organized by category or brand. In that same store, there might be other products that sit next to their non-connected counterparts. For example, Nest and Honeywell thermostats tend to sit on the shelves next to regular climate control products without connectivity. The selling point is the sleek interface and the unique enhancements that Nest offers over a regular thermostat. It's not presented with other smart home equipment and the idea behind a truly smart home isn't communicated. After all, having one device with an app doesn't equal a smart home.
Despite these challenges, the time has never been better for selling smart home. The 2018 Consumer Electronics Guide from Crimson Hexagon found that consumers are increasingly optimistic about the smart home. The report notes, "while smart homes may have begun as intriguing baubles for techies, they have quickly been adopted by a more mainstream audience that is looking for functionality more than futurism," and credits categories like voice assistants, lighting, and security with dominating the conversation amongst consumers. Another 2018 study from Parks Associates found that "of U.S. households with broadband, 32% currently own at least one connected device and more than half (50%) plan to buy a smart home device in the coming year."
But how do retailers best communicate the benefits of smart home tech for an increasingly aware and engaged consumer audience? After all, it isn't exactly easy to show how technology would operate throughout an entire home and how devices might be able to work together to create automations that make life easier, safer and more convenient - at least not in aisle 6.
One major retailer that's exploring a different model is Lowe's Home Improvement. The DIY retailer has carried smart home goods for a while but in the past suffered from challenges in the way they displayed products and helped customers see their value. Last year, they announced their collaboration with b8ta, the experiential tech retail store founded in California to build a "store within a store" for smart home tech. Lowe's VP of customer experience design, Ruth Crowley, commented, "we developed Smart Home powered by b8ta to emulate a 'lab-like' atmosphere that empowers customers to make informed decisions."
And it's not just home-improvement stores that have partnered to add experiential smart home tech - homebuilders are increasingly getting involved with smart home tech providers to offer smart home built-in to new home models, with the value and capabilities of the technology shared in a live home environment. Even e-tailers see the need to demonstrate the smart home in more tangible ways. In May 2018, Amazon and Lennar announced
their partnership to offer "show-and-sell" experience showrooms in Lennar smart homes while home automation leader Control4 announced their Certified Showrooms program
, with over 140 locations worldwide that allow homeowners, designers, architects, builders, and others interested in the smart home the ability to experience features before adding them to their home and projects.
Retail as we know it must evolve to better communicate what a smart home is, what it does and why consumers should open their wallet and jump on the connected living bandwagon. Once average consumers fully embrace smart home tech, we'll also see the greater cultural acceptance of the IoT continue to blossom - a shift that will redefine the way we approach every aspect of our lives for years to come.
Congratulations to the 2018 Z-Wave Smarty Award Winners
Smarty Awards were given out at the Z-Wave Fall Summit in Philadelphia, PA.