Smart home throws its doors wide to an open ecosystem

An open ecosystem offers several benefits to smart home market participants, says Thomas Rockmann, VP of Connected Home, Deutsche Telekom AG.

Firstly, this approach enables players to work together to deliver the next generation of smart home services that consumers are demanding, whereas a proprietary platform restricts the combination of different devices for end users.

Secondly, smaller brands can use the reputation and access to larger customer bases of a brand that consumers trust and, last but not least, everyone involved in the open ecosystem platform can enjoy a strong strategic commitment and the financial strength to invest in the business for the long term, together.

Consumers are likely to be reluctant to being limited to purchasing a reduced selection of products and devices based only on what works with their proprietary smart home platform. Instead, where the connected home is concerned, consumers are being encouraged towards open ecosystems which allow them to integrate different and changing interoperable devices so that they are not restricted to just one standard moving forward.

The different types of smart home platforms available to consumers range from Nest and HomeKit to Deutsche Telekom’s QIVICON and Amazon’s Echo and, while each will play a significant role in the wider marketplace, the IoT needs of consumers will foresee the market uptake of open platforms far exceed that of non-interoperable ones.QIVICON-Mood-Bild-1

The key success factors to driving growth for all vendors, manufacturers and players in the IoT sector are utilising developer communities and building on existing products to suit a multitude of end uses.

Whether it be partners working together to develop complementary devices that boost the other and integrate to offer new services for users or the creation of further platforms that combine with existing open platforms to offer end users even more choice going forward, the key will be interoperability and partnerships.

Our own connected home platform is a good example of this as it already has over 40 partner companies of different sizes across a range of industries utilising the platform to bring their own products and services to market quicker, as part of a larger connected ecosystem.

Thomas Rockmann, VP of connected home, DeutscheTelekom AG
Thomas Rockmann, VP of connected home, DeutscheTelekom AG

While IoT opportunities in the connected home continue to grow there will still be significant challenges for players in the market as a whole – namely privacy and security concerns. There are already significant data privacy questions to be considered and the challenge is in recognising a connected device’s ability to learn as it is used and personalise its future usage based on what you have asked it to do in the past.

This enhancement of functionality over time means that the learning process involved also means some sort of data logging in the cloud and, to overcome those concerns, it is imperative to ensure that your use of any data gained is transparent and secure.

Partnership again – here with best-of-breed specialists in data management – will be the key to success, and partnering with trusted names, such as Deutsche Telekom, may also help address consumers’ concerns. While ensuring absolute security is always going to be difficult in a time of advanced hacking techniques, following protocols that keep retained data to a minimum and/or completely anonymous may also help to mitigate risk.

Aside from the technical requirements and benefits of an open ecosystem approach, the most powerful argument for non-proprietary platforms is the increased partnership benefits to be gained. By beginning with an open and agile platform, multiple partners can be supported, and work together to realise and monetise the connected home.

While overall the IoT space offers unprecedented opportunities for a vast range of enterprises, it will be partnerships (including open architecture platforms) that will offer the faster route to market and ongoing success and sustainability in the connected home and beyond.

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