Since its debut, home automation has never lacked a core group of excited and dedicated followers. It did, however, until recently struggle in gaining broader acceptance.
In Simon Sinek’s book “Start with Why”, he introduces a concept he calls the Law of Diffusion of Innovation that illustrates the hurdles a product or idea must clear on its way to the mainstream.
Basically, Sinek says that with just about every innovative new product or brand, there’s going to be a segment of early adopters who just get what you’re trying to do. They know what the products can accomplish, and quickly put them to use.
Early adopters, according to this schema, make up about 13.5 percent of the population. New technologies and products hit their radar just after the 2.5 percent of actual innovators.
With home technology, this group quickly identified what it meant to automate lighting, security, and entertainment systems. But in order to really achieve mass market success, businesses need to move beyond the people who intuitively understand a product to the early majority. So, what is it that the early adopters understand that the early majority is now catching on to?
● That pursuing a completely connected lifestyle is fun
● That home controls are part of an ultra-practical, ultra-efficient home
● That centralized home controls for lighting, security, and entertainment can add outrageous levels of convenience and enjoyment to home life
As Sinek argues in his book, it is critical to effectively communicate these Why reasons to the early majority. In other words, features only become selling points after the concept is sold. So any message that focuses on only the advanced and intricate capabilities a system offers simply won’t do. And while we’re on the subject, nor will one that presents a vision of the home as a cold, futuristic, tech paradise.
For proof that the Why frequently precedes the What, one need look no further than the runaway success of the Toyota Prius. The Prius is arguably not the best looking car on the block, yet its awkward lines make a lifestyle statement much bigger than the car itself.
This hybrid’s case also helps to illustrate another important point: that the Why isn’t unequivocal. What we mean is that there are people who get the concept, yet still have practical concerns like whether there’ll be enough room for the kids and few bags of groceries.
In the world of home automation, there are similar issues. There are plenty of people who’d probably love to start living a more technologically enhanced lifestyle, with energy-efficient, iPhone connected lighting scenes. But the reality is that they aren’t yet convinced that the experience will match the ideal.
Standards like Zigbee and Z-Wave that guarantee interoperability among products are helping to reassure consumers with a marking that’s consistent across all products. Then there are devices like the iPhone and iPad that serve as access points, and it goes almost without saying that these names have become synonymous with an intuitive user experience. The remaining burden falls with product developers to make sure that there’s no retreat from this apparent tipping point that’s been reached in bringing home automation to the mass market consumer.