Last month, AT&T celebrated the one-year anniversary of the introduction of its Digital Life home security and automation offering in the marketplace. The company has certainly come a long way since it first announced plans to enter the security market nearly two years ago; having established two, CSAA Five Diamond certified monitoring centers to support Digital Life, which is now available to customers in 75 markets across the country.
Kevin Petersen, president of AT&T Digital Life, said that they met their “wide-reaching” goals for 2013, which were really focused on building up their infrastructure and nationwide operations.
“We’re covering a good portion of the country in terms of households. We feel really good. We feel good about our marketing campaigns, our advertising, but then I would say that as important if not more is our ability to demonstrate and really talk to people about the service, the market and the industry in our retail stores,” said Petersen. “We’re in well over 1,000 stores at this point. I think the actual number is 1,400 stores, but that gives us the ability to demonstrate and really talk to people face-to-face in a natural setting for them and really get the word out, so I would tell you this: I feel like we accomplished our goals in terms of building the infrastructure of being a fully integrated, full provider of security and automation and doing it in a way that our customers are telling us is a good experience.”
Going forward in 2014 and beyond, Petersen said the company’s focus will be on ramping up their sales campaigns and working more closely with their call centers which will now be scheduling and selling Digital Life along with wireless and wireline services. In addition to launching in new markets, Petersen said that they will also be looking to continue to introduce new products and services.
“We will look to go into new industry verticals. If you think about living in place in the healthcare market, we think there is a very viable opportunity there,” explained Petersen. “We’re wholesaling our service internationally and we’re looking to get into the business segment. We have a strong foothold with our base business at AT&T in that segment. We didn’t get into this market to be anything but a number one or number two provider and that’s our goal and that’s what we’re driving towards. At the same time, we’re going to continue to look at these adjacent markets that we feel have a lot of synergy with what we’re doing today and what we do here at AT&T.”
Petersen also feels that the company’s marketing efforts, as well as their online presence has helped to educate consumers about the benefits and attainability of home security and automation. However, he added that another big component to their success thus far has been their retail outlets.
“If you think about it, it’s not just marketing, it’s not just advertising and it’s not just online… it’s also about how we sell, how we display and how we educate in our retail stores,” he said. “I think the combination of those things has done a lot in terms of opening peoples’ eyes on what new technology is bringing to this market, what new services are available and how it works – how easy it is to use and some of the real practical, day-to-day things that (home automation) can help them do. Our entrance (to the market), how we’ve entered, the legitimate way we’ve entered, the way we’ve sold it, the way we’ve chosen to advertise and market it has differentiated us, but it has also done a very good job of educating consumers and opening their eyes as to what this market is becoming very quickly and what it can do for them.”
While Petersen believes that traditional alarm dealers have done an “ok” job of educating the market about home automation, he said that up until the last six or eight months, their efforts had still been “very security oriented” and that there was still a lot of confusion in the marketplace.