Home Technical Support — A Very Unconnected World
Our CTO dissects the opportunity of the connected home and calls out the brewing storm of technical support problems and customer dissatisfaction that is emerging.
THE CONNECTED HOME DREAM
The era of home digitisation has well and truly arrived, five to ten years ago we moved on from browser based devices to gaming, IPTV and streaming services, now home automation is in a mass market adoption phase with thermostats, doorbells, security systems and white goods all becoming smart, connected devices. If the dream is fulfilled people’s home’s will be personalised, automated, proactively self-healing and secure; baking a cake with the help of a small army of intelligent orchestrated devices, perfectly balanced heating systems, facial recognition on your doorstep, gaming and content with flawless delivery, this is the expectation being set.
For device manufacturers, games companies and content distributors there are many benefits; direct to the end user delivery of their products with little or no lead time, monitoring of usage, direct user engagement, and automated updates of products to rollout new features and with that up-sell of new products and services. Predictions of up-to fifty connected devices per home gives a view of the scale of the market opportunity, and it’s happening fast, this is predicted to happen in the next five to seven years.
BUT THERE'S THE RUB...
But, as the bard once said, there’s the rub, this has almost happened ‘too fast’, the complexity this new network has created Is unmatched by either homeowner understanding or the capabilities of the technical components that deliver the connected home. There are three and sometimes four layers of components that co-operate to create the digital home experience; the network, the devices, the ‘hub’ through which the homeowner interacts, and over the top services such as music, gaming and video. To deliver seamless services to the homeowner to achieve the vision these all need to interoperate flawlessly, recover from failure gracefully, and all this while driving interaction with the homeowner to deliver a natural and delightful customer experience.
This doesn’t factor in the heterogeneous nature of the digital home, end user’s buy devices on an ad-hoc basis, they don’t buy a single brand or platform, they assess what is best in class for their needs at a point in time and buy on that basis, then expect it all to work, and unfortunately quite often it doesn’t. When this happens the options available to the homeowner are poor, really poor; they can self-diagnose the issue and use web search or community help forums with their own description of the problem, or they can call or message a support helpdesk for help. The helpdesk has little or no context about the state of the user’s device and home network but will try to diagnose the problem and apply a fix or educate the homeowner, there is little or no automation of this interaction, its two people with limited skills or knowledge and understanding trying to get to a resolution, hardly the dream?
The impact of this will become exacerbated as everyday devices become connected, this isn’t just a problem with gaming or watching a movie, it’s your doorbell, your thermostat, your fridge, your alarm; essential home infrastructure that is all wired together on a series of network protocols that were not built to be mission critical with little or no interoperability standards and zero capability for self-healing or autonomous diagnostics and care. It’s to be expected this will drive many support issues, and those issues will lead to huge levels of homeowner dissatisfaction that may ultimately impact adoption. The connected home dream could die in its infancy.
AUTONOMOUS CARE - THE ONLY CREDIBLE SOLUTION
In Sweepr we are working to address this, our vision is an autonomous, vendor independent platform that provides a care capability for the connected home. We’ll continuously monitor home state, orchestrate diagnostics and fixes and user interactions, automate fixes where possible and gather context and autonomously report issues where we cant. Central to solving this is interaction with the homeowner, to provide the capability to gather and diagnose issues via voice, message and smartphone app based interactions, this can also drive homeowner education that is personalised and matched to their skill level and demographic. Issues are mapped to context and this is used to select an appropriate resolution, as the platform executes it improves, learning the most effective fixes for a given problem and learning what interactions work best for a given user. We believe this holistic, homeowner centric solution is what the market will need for the dream to be realised and are seeking Device manufacturer and Communication service provider partners to work with us to realise it.
Get in touch or signup for our white Paper to learn more.