“I've been disappointed by how slowly the Insurance industry has engaged with the Smart Home” - Pilgrim Beart, CEO, DevicePilot

Smart Summit London is returning on the 19th and 20th of September at the Business Design Centre, and this year a number of excellent speakers have signed up to share and discuss how IoT is impacting their business.

One of Smart Summit’s visionary speakers, Pilgrim Beart, is a serial connected-products entrepreneur, having founded companies including Antenova (billions of antenna systems shipped) and AlertMe (now known as Hive and acquired by BG in 2015 for $100m, it's the UK's most successful Connected Home platform and has shipped millions of connected devices).

Pilgrim, who will be talking about ‘Five ways IoT can make or break your brand’ on Wednesday 20th of September, has taken some time to answer the Smart Summit Q&A:
Which do you consider to be the most popular Smart Home services/solutions currently?
When we started AlertMe in 2006 we spent quite a bit of time analysing what the "killer apps" for the Smart Home would be, and concluded that they are Security, Energy and Telecare (looking after elderly people in their own homes). I still think these are the three killer-apps, as everyone needs them at some time or another in their lives, for themselves or their loved ones. 

What could be done to increase mass market take-up of Smart Home solutions?
There's still a lot of work to be done on making solutions simple and reliable, and I think that will drive adoption more than whizz-bang features (which tend to make early adopters buy, but the mainstream wants stuff that "just works").

How can smart home services save consumers money?
I had a smart home heating system in my house, which adapted to occupancy, and it saved me about 30% on my gas bills. So that's a really big potential win.

How best to use customer data, to offer a personalised solution?
As with all other consumer data plays, the win-win opportunity is that through understanding the customer's individual needs better, the vendor can fulfil those needs better.  

How is voice evolving the smart home experience?
Although smartphones have become a bit of a universal remote control for our lives, there are times when it's not convenient to get your phone out, e.g. because you've got your hands full. Voice neatly solves this problem
Focussing on the pain points – how to determine exactly what will make a difference to the customer’s life
It's a mistake to see customers as homogenous - at AlertMe we discovered that there's huge variety in people's lives (as just one example, some people set their thermostats at 13C, some at 26C). So the opportunity is - through data - to understand people, and give different people different things. This is similar to Amazon's custom recommendations.

Does the smart home industry need universal open standards?
Yes, and this is coming quite rapidly now. A key standard right in the middle of the technology stack is to use "IP" (Internet Protocol) - which abstracts the app from the hardware. Then many different standards can co-exist.

Partnerships are key for success but how should partners be chosen and partnership terms be agreed?
Absolutely agree. The Smart Home market is now entering its "ecosystem" phase, where it becomes possible to build Smart Home propositions out of off-the-shelf parts, rather than having to build them yourself. But in order for that to really be true, vendors have to collaborate to ensure that there aren't any "gaps" between their parts, and that they integrate easily. So choose partners who provide complementary parts (some overlap is OK) and ensure that terms give all parties an incentive to keep collaborating, whilst avoiding lock-in.

Which do you consider to be the best routes to market for Smart Home products?
Again, in the early days of AlertMe we analysed this and concluded that there are three obvious, massive channels to market: Retail, Telco and Utility. And we now see Smart Home offerings from all three. They're doing it to offer their customers a richer bundle, and deliver a larger share of their customers' daily life value. 
Is the workforce ready yet for Smart Home?
As AlertMe morphed into Hive there was a lot of concern about whether British Gas' 10,000  unionised installers would support what we were doing. However, after a good communications campaign we found that they did and even became enthusiastic salespeople. 
What impact are security concerns having on the growth of smart home sales and how can security be enhanced?
Security is something you get right at the beginning, or not at all. Big brands make the effort because they have a lot to lose. Small no-name brands are where the problems have been occurring. We do still see quite a lot of naivete about this (some vendors believe they won't need to software-upgrade their products - and they're simply wrong) - but it's getting better.

How are insurance companies increasing the value of smart home products?
Frankly I've been disappointed by how slowly the Insurance industry has engaged with the Smart Home, compared with how they have engaged with the connected car and driven propositions there. It seems to me that the Smart Home brings huge opportunities to understand the homeowner better, and thereby offer them a tailored product. Data could certainly be used for actuarial purposes as it is in the car.
What lies ahead for the Smart Home industry?
It's exciting because we see a lot of activity not only from the large consumer brands but also from many smaller players. I think everyone realises that there is now a "battle for the home" going on - a window of opportunity during which consumers will choose the core service provider for their Smart Home and thereafter remain quite loyal to that provider. I don't think we'll see exclusively "Apple homes" and "Amazon homes", but these providers are big-enough to drive the quality and scale that helps the ecosystem emerge. 

To register your place and hear from our 180 leading speakers click here. Additionally, for further information on speaking opportunities, sponsorship and exhibition options at the UK’s leading Smart Summit, please visit www.iotsmartsummitlondon.com or contact the Smart Summit London Team on +44 (0) 330 335 3900 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

About Smart Summit London

Smart Summit is a 2 day conference and exhibition covering the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem and its impact on the digital society.

Now in its 3rd year, the event features Europe's leading Smart Home Summit and a further 5 tracks all designed to compliment each other.

With over 180 visionary speakers, gain a unique insight from industry heavyweights and hear case study examples from major contributors.

Make sure you are present in London on the 19th and 20th September for THE Smart IoT event of 2017.