The connected home is coming. In fact, it’s here. At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, countless firms highlighted their connected home products: security cameras, smart thermostats, internet-connected lighting and smart appliances. Lots of firms are rushing to the connected home market, each with varying degrees of technical expertise and experience. Key players who want to oversee the management of connected homes were also on hand, including tech companies like Apple and Google, communications stalwarts like AT&T and Comcast, and traditional security firms like ADT and CenturyLink. Each offers a variety of features and plans, reminiscent of cellphone plans from the late 1990s. Many of these are considered well-known and trusted brands. But can they be trusted to manage your connected home?
While there is great excitement about the trend toward connected homes, concerns are also beginning to emerge. Every year, Splash Data puts out a list of commonly stolen passwords, noting that many of these passwords are ALWAYS on this list. In other words, hackers know this and are just salivating, waiting for you to use one to “secure” your connected home.
Don’t believe me? We recently saw a story about a site (not including the link, for obvious reasons) offering access to over 73,000 unsecured cameras that are easily accessible because their owners never changed their default user names and passwords. Creepy, isn’t it? And while the use of stronger passwords could eliminate some of these concerns, there are other ways a more determined hacker can get into your system. A Consumerist report recently exposed many vulnerabilities within connected home products.
These issues underline the key potential weakness of connected homes: security. Who can you trust to actually secure your connected home, manage/use your data responsibly and not sell it to unwanted third parties? There’s one type of provider I haven’t mentioned that is actually among the leaders in the trust department: utilities.
A recent international study from Accenture shows that customer trust in utilities with regard to energy advice remains higher and is growing faster compared to telecommunication companies and home security firms. This provides an edge to utilities with respect to newer market entrants, like Google/Nest, who are actively seeking to gain market share through energy management. (And we all know Google doesn’t make its money keeping your information secret.)
Even more importantly, the same study found that customers prefer utilities/energy firms to provide connected home services far more often than phone/cable providers or home security companies. Only firms that specialize in connected home products and services were preferred more often than a utility/energy provider. Utilities have a great opportunity to stake a claim in the connected home marketplace, especially if they strategically position their offers on trust.