“The value of personal data is rocketing, as is awareness of the value of smart home deployments.” - Thomas Rockmann, VP Connected Home at Deutsche Telekom

Europe’s leading Connected Home event returns on the 19th and 20th September at the Business Design Centre in London. This year over 150 speakers will join over 1,500 attendees to discuss the impact of IoT and Connected Living on Homes, Cities, Retail, Insurance, Utilities and LPWAN.

One of the Smart Home Summit speakers, Thomas Rockmann, is Vice President of Connected Home, Deutsche Telekom’s white label smart home portfolio and joint CEO of the group-wide smart home project. Thomas is responsible for all aspects of the Connected Home business and has been instrumental in growing the business and delivering the white label solution with different partners across Europe.

Thomas joined Deutsche Telekom in 2000 as the group’s senior innovation manager for product lifecycle management, where he conceptualized and launched Deutsche Telekom’s product lifecycle management process and SAP tool, which today enables Deutsche Telekom to deliver products in a standardized way for all consumer customers. He also undertook the role as the commissioner for quality management in marketing and sales of T-Com.
Thomas, who will be discussing how to ‘Optimise Partnerships’ on Wednesday 20th September, took some time to complete a speaker Q&A:
Which do you consider to be the most popular Smart Home services/solutions currently?

The most popular smart home services and solutions certainly vary widely by geographical location, but there are core trends, most obviously in peace of mind with smart alarm systems and efficiency cases with smart thermostats. Voice activated systems are also gaining widespread acceptance in consumer homes, although early use cases have proven to be more information-based, such as weather, radio or alarm clock related.  
What could be done to increase mass market take-up of Smart Home solutions?

Creating compelling use cases is the first serious bit of homework for all manufacturers, and demonstrating clear interoperability with other desirable devices too. Consumers usually enter the smart home market with a single use case in mind, before becoming aware that buying into an ecosystem is desirable, so being clear about the potential benefits of this from the outset is key.  
How can smart home services save consumers money?

Currently the market is just beginning to mature, and a wide range of business models are evolving, so consumer savings are relatively basic in nature. Cutting utility bills due to more accurate usage data, or taking advantage of more granular device upgrade paths to reduce the up-front cost of a security system are both relatively common. However, the value of personal data is rocketing, as is awareness of the value of smart home deployments. Innovations such as discounted home contents insurance due to the presence of an approved alarm system, lowered premiums on buildings cover due to water and moisture sensors throughout a property are on the cusp of becoming a reality. Equally, many utility providers are introducing ‘bundled’ offers, where perhaps a new home gateway and sensor package is subsidised, or indeed the opposite, where the best and greenest tariffs are only available to those with smart thermostats to take best advantage of the energy.
How best to use customer data, to offer a personalised solution?

Personal data, in the example above, is a powerful resource indeed, and companies that offer smart home solutions are increasingly aware of its value, while consumers are hesitant about giving away all of their data. Segmenting and aggregating consumer usage data will in many cases provide the most innovative and beneficial new business models for the smart home industry, but pursuit of this brave new world must be tempered with caution. New data regulation (such as GDPR in Europe) is set to strengthen consumer safeguards, and the smart home industry needs to lead the way in setting out clear standards in data handling. This will be essential to create trust.
How is voice evolving the smart home experience?

Voice is certainly an evolutionary point in the smart home experience, but it’s important to realise it is a method of control, and in the case of smart-speaker devices just one of the many consumer interfaces available. It will certainly develop into a de facto control method, just as touchscreen has, and will continue to be widely integrated into services and devices alike.
Does the smart home industry need universal open standards?

At Deutsche Telekom, we believe that open standards are of the utmost importance for a healthy industry, whatever your position in the value chain. For consumers, open standards provide assurance that devices and services will operate seamlessly and, for partners, that they will have access to the largest market possible, and that goes for developers too. Open standards breed trust and promote transparency between all parties, which we believe will become increasingly important as this exciting market matures.
Partnerships are key for success but how should partners be chosen and partnership terms be agreed?

Partnerships are indeed essential, and can take such a variety of formats that it’s only really certain that one size rarely fits all!  Deutsche Telekom specifically reflected this truism in developing our white label smart home portfolio, enabling a pick and choose strategy for business customers from the very outset. The most important thing about partnering is to be clear about responsibilities at the outset, and be fair in the terms to both parties. Without these ingredients, it is unlikely to be a long-term success.
Which do you consider to be the best routes to market for Smart Home products?

It is essential that smart home propositions are integrated tightly into the business’ core proposition and are told as one company story. The routes to market vary widely, but we would certainly recommend taking a judicious approach, as is being very clear about how the proposed smart home proposition will augment and improve on the existing business model, rather than fragment or distract from a successful proven model.
Is the workforce ready yet for Smart Home?

It’s certain that we are just at the beginning of the mass adoption curve, and device penetration is only going to rise. In conjunction with this, we expect to see a huge increase in value-add services using aggregated data to provide consumers with genuine benefits across the spectrum, which means jobs in the industries that are working with smart homes should be set into the connected future. There is certain to be a continuation of the ‘Do It For Me’ rather than DIY trend, which will continue to create jobs in the field as well.
What impact are security concerns having on the growth of smart home sales and how can security be enhanced?

Security is of course a key question for consumers and will continue to be a major concern, and rightly so. Smart home devices are at the centre of our lives, occupying a trusted position at the heart of our homes and family lives. Security is unfortunately not a destination but a journey, so there will be an element of evolution, but we believe that having clear consumer-facing industry standards on security will significantly improve trust of smart home products. Of course, standards alone will not be sufficient, it is down to manufacturers and developers to ensure that security practices and standards are implemented and tested before products are brought to market.
How are insurance companies increasing the value of smart home products?

The potential for insurance companies to use customer data to create granular, more individual premiums accurately tailored to individual risk evaluations is big, and already underway in several verticals. This is, in many ways, a driver of demand in its own right, and the partnerships between companies offering smart home solutions that can be combined with a 3rd party service from an insurer, retailers and insurance companies hold great promise for the industry.
What lies ahead for the Smart Home industry?

Growth! There are challenges ahead, but we firmly believe that the market is set for significant expansion over the coming years. However, it is essential that companies looking to take advantage of this industry’s growth position themselves in the market sooner rather than later so they don’t miss out. Establishing yourself now means that you’ll be in the right place to claim a fair share of the expansion as it happens, rather than chasing it afterwards.
We are beginning to see truly original and innovative business models emerge that will plot the future course of the market. While those challenges are significant, and include data security, as well as ensuring that open standards are established and understood, once these are established, growth will surely follow!
For more information, visit: http://smarthome.telekom.net/

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.