A lively debate has been taking place recently over Lennar Homes’ new connected home program. As part of its move to launch what it's calling the “World's First Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ Smart Home” the country’s second biggest builder is opting for a bare bones approach to low voltage infrastructure.
While Lennar is planning to pull Cat5/6 to dedicated Wi-Fi Access points as well as the doorbell location, there will be no more Cat 5/6 to home office locations or entertainment centers, no more speaker wire, and coax to only two TV locations in the majority of their new homes.
Some in the industry fear that this minimal infrastructure will be to the detriment of the end user — particularly those looking to leverage technologies like 4K streaming content or video teleconferencing, as well those who want outdoor entertainment options — while others in the business have come to the defense of the builder, saying, “Wireless is the future… get over it.” (Check out the comments on those previous CE Pro articles for more.)
Both sides of the argument have merit. And while the primary focus of the conversation has rightfully been on the potential impact Lennar’s decision could have on the end user experience, there’s been a missing component to what’s been dubbed the “Wired vs. Wireless” debate — what does this all mean for integrators in the CEDIA channel?
You Don't Need Wires, or You Don't Need Us?
When paired with Lennar’s decision to utilize Amazon Home Services for their installation needs, the builder’s sharp reduction in low voltage cabling reinforces the notion that it sees a “traditional” path to the smart home (i.e. the CEDIA channel) as outdated.
When looked at from this angle, this becomes a debate about the relevance of today’s integrator as perceived by large builders.
In short, when they say they don’t need wires, what they’re actually thinking is they don’t need a traditional home technology professional. And whether or not your business concerns itself with the opinions and business practices of production builders, this is a dangerous perception that could soon be indicative of large swaths of the marketplace.
The connected home landscape is evolving at an unprecedented pace. And as Lennar’s new smart home strategy illustrates, this evolution is clearly presenting new opportunities. Large and previously untapped swaths of the market are being exposed to smart home technology for the first time.
Once given a taste, many of these consumers will be looking for a personalized connected home experience beyond what large production builders and tech giants like Amazon can provide.
They’ll be looking for a technology manager — a guiding hand to curate and manage their home technology experience. There is massive opportunity in this new market share. The only question is, who will absorb it?
Check Your Value Proposition
To win a share of this new and growing market, CEDIA integrators must become better at centering their value proposition on client service and technology management. Until recently, bringing disparate technologies together into a seamless user experience was difficult enough to drive sufficient value to the market on its own.
We are at a precipice today, a turning point where technological barriers are falling, creating a need to shift your core value proposition from “install” to “service.” Those who understand this fact will be on the winning side of the debate, no matter how it plays out, because they will benefit from the inevitable need for service and technology management moving forward.
For most integrators, the Lennar decision is a debate about the future technology landscape, not about the current change to their business. But getting lost in a debate about the merits of copper vs. RF without focusing on the fact that your value proposition is changing is a clear case of not seeing the forest for the trees.
Those who simply write this off as a bad choice by a production builder they don’t want to work with anyway are clearly thinking like a “Day 2 company.”
As an industry, we’d be much better off using Lennar’s decision as a launching pad for a conversation about how we might get better positioned to capitalize on the new market opportunities. Because if we don’t seize the opportunity in front of us, a dangerous picture of the CEDIA integrator may well emerge in the consumer’s mind — overcomplicated, expensive and irrelevant.
The connected home market is going to expand with or without the CEDIA integrator. And for that matter, with or without the wires.
For more information about service and using it to create RMR, visit www.onevisionresources.com/blog.
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