While countries around the world are certainly different from each other in so many ways, some things are the same.
Custom integration might be one of those universal careers. Home Technology Professionals from around the world who gather annually at the CEDIA Expo understand this; they share many of the same challenges and market conditions no matter where they are based.
Nick Caripis, founder and managing director of BNC Technology in Johannesburg, South Africa, is one of those integrators. His company is experiencing tremendous growth on the heels of the strong South African economy.
Wealthy South Africans are as attuned to luxury and the latest trends as their overseas counterparts and more local homeowners in the nation are embracing the growing trend to install the latest in cutting-edge home technology solutions.
“The need for smart homes with fully integrated home automation, home cinema, acoustic solutions and the like have been catching on over the last couple of years,” says Caripis.
As connectivity is becoming a way of life Caripis foresees smart homes will soon become the norm among the high-end residential property owners in South Africa. According to the latest New World Africa Wealth Report, there will be 55,500 “super-affluent” people in South Africa by 2017 and these individuals are by and large also property owners.
The high net worth property owners are BNC Technology’s biggest clientele, as the company specializes in only high-end home integration solutions.
“We pride ourselves on offering a fully customized service and the products and brands we use are all certified products,” says Caripis who, just like his high-end counterparts in the U.S., believes that service, reliability, quality, performance and design are non-negotiable in this industry.
Meticulous planning and careful consideration precede all BNC Technology’s installations. “We believe well-laid plans lead to well-executed solutions,” says Caripis.
Fiber Optics Being Implemented
One trend leading the growth of home automation in South Africa is the deployment of fiber optic networks. Caripis believes South African homeowners should start factoring in potential home automation for the future, especially now that fibre optic connectivity is being implemented.
“Homes are becoming more connected and devices, like smartphones, tablets and TVs, all run on the same network. To get the most of your product and activate all features you simply have to be connected to the internet. With the availability of fiber optics in certain areas live streaming through services like Tidal, Netflix and iTunes Music can add great value to people’s lives and they want to control all these things with their smart phones, as it is simple and convenient.”
Fiber is also making an impact in the U.S. According to new research from the Fiber to the Home (FTTH) Council, 13 percent more of U.S. homes were “passed” with FTTH in 2015, bringing the total to 26 million homes. Homes that are “passed” with fiber does not mean they are connected to it. About half (12.3 million homes) are connected. 4K content and faster-speed home networks are two driving forces behind FTTH here in the U.S.
The most frequent requests BNC Technology receives from clients is to have a single integrated system that can be controlled from a smartphone or remote control.
“Clients want a simple, but reliable system that can easily be upgraded and BNC Technology specializes in this kind of service,” Caripis says. As for installations BNC’s turnkey home cinema solutions are very popular. “The sales cycle may be long, but we are confident with our offering,” he says.
Similar to his American brethren, Caripis has received his quota extraordinary requests. “One client wanted music in the pool which is always a winner. We have also proposed a weather station for another client that will monitor the weather and then close his skylight if the wind picks up or begins to rain,” Caripis says.
Smart homes are not only about luxury, though. Home integrated technology solutions should also provide peace of mind with security features and remote access to homes, as well as energy efficiency in an era where consumers are increasingly becoming environmentally conscious.
BNC Technology also does security and climate control while also specializing in motorized lifts for televisions and safes, sensors that control lights and irrigation systems to requirements for home theaters, media and music rooms.
Geographic Expansion or Partnerships?
BNC’s success in South Africa might turn on a light bulb for integrators to think outside the boundaries of U.S. borders. Indeed, many custom integrators are eyeing geographic expansion. Indeed, according to research among the CE Pro 100, two thirds of integrators plan to expand their geographic footprint via organic growth in 2016. Also, one third plan to grow geographically by acquiring another company.
One recent trend has been for integrators to not just move into different states, but even take on international projects. But instead of just following a single client to a foreign country, is there room for strategic growth by actually establishing partnerships or even offices internationally? If so where? Well, one market to set to grow is South Africa, where the number of millionaires has risen by nearly 10 percent since 2007.
And who knows … depending on how the 2016 election turns out, you might want to set up shop outside the U.S. permanently.