In the palm of your hand: Home systems delight

A new day dawns for the residential systems market


Those of you who may have thought the residential market is dead—think again. While new construction has taken a big hit throughout the recession, the retrofit and upgrade market for home systems—including security, lighting, video, remote connectivity, energy savings and management, audiovisual and temperature control are making this vertical one which sparkles with newfound excitement.

It makes perfect sense. The majority of buyers are now aged 25 to 40 and they know how technology makes life easier. For the most part, they’ve done away with Plain Old Telephone Systems (POTS) and landlines, migrating to more flexible forms of connectivity—wireless, use of the Internet, remote programming and now, even Web-based and Software as a Service (SaaS) products. It’s evident that the full solutions provider who can do it all in a turnkey package will shine as growth in integrated technologies continues to spiral upwards.

Home systems buyers want to be able to arm and disarm systems, including lighting and controls, remotely from their cell phones, iPhones, Blackberries or other portable devices. They want to know who’s been at the protected premises and when, or which of the children is home and when they arrived. To do this they eagerly accept mobile video as part of the necessary mix.

New models of RMR

Finally, the systems integrator has the type of offerings everyone wants and sees value in – if they play it right and gain the necessary expertise. Homeowners continue to want one trusted source to do it all for them and will reward those installers with referrals, upgrades and add-ons. The beauty of it all is that it creates new streams of monthly recurring revenue and establishes the security integrator as a full service solutions provider who can handle everything the homeowner wants.

Ralph Gregory is the president of Security Force Inc., headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., and he regularly deals with the excitement of connectivity and systems solutions that his buyers—in the 25- to 40-year-old range—want with technology.

“There’s so much emerging technology that these buyers want to take advantage of,” said Gregory. His company offers the Alarm.com Web-based solution (through installed GE Security products) to customers. Gregory said the most asked about offerings include energy management, lighting and remote technologies which allow users to arm or disarm systems or set temperatures or automate services within the home while they are away.

“When the customer is able to get more value from their system, they will use the system more. And if they use the system more, they in general will want to keep that system and grow with it,” said Gregory. Security Force’s business is some 70 percent residential.
Gregory said that about 20 percent or more of his customers don’t have a home phone, and with that in mind, he opted to offer the Alarm.com SaaS model. “They want security monitoring and remote and event notification and to interact with their systems and use Web-based and IP centric dashboards,” he continued.

“There’s such a big value proposition for integrators who can offer all these solutions. It’s much more than security, and as such, there is so much more value added for the installer and the end-user,” explained Gregory. “It’s also a much easier sell to the homeowner.”

Alarm.com started out in the security side of the business, but will be moving more into the automation arena, beginning in 2010, according to Bob McCarthy, director of Product Management for Alarm.com, headquartered in Tysons Corner, Va. “The offering really helps dealers differentiate themselves. With this hosted model, we want to keep the smarts here on our server as much as possible. We will be rolling out some new automation platforms to respond to the industry needs early next year, focusing on optimizing e ease of use and operational parameters for dealers and their customers,” he continued.

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