Unlike many consumer electronics products, home automation is a solution play and not a product play. People are not interested in what products are offered by companies, but more in seeing that their lives become safe, secure, comfortable and energy efficient.
Added complexity to it is the fact that a smooth experience with any such solutions is heavily dependent on the network, electrical and construction infrastructure in a particular place.
It is no wonder that the market for home automation all over the world continues to be a hobbyist market. Bulk of the business is driven through professionally installed solutions, even for seemingly simple looking systems.
Several companies have developed interesting products and are taking them to consumer through the regular consumer channel. The considerations for those products are quite simple: make interesting products providing compelling value, solve a specific problem for the customer, and enable very easy installations.
However, a large set of homeowners are getting the benefits of home automation through different channels: real-estate developers and service providers like telecom operators enabling home automation for their customer base.
In such models, the dynamics of business, products, solutions and deployments are very different from pure consumer focused products, and several factors go in to provide solutions at that scale effectively.
The considerations in such large-scale deployments are very different from considerations involved in deploying systems in single units. The solutions have to be often decided without knowing the eventual users of those homes. They have to be made expandable so that the customers can tweak them to their preferences. They have to keep the community in mind because the entire community is involved.
They have to be often planned in conjunction with the planning of communications infrastructure within those communities and have a very degree of fault-tolerance built-in so that the basic functionality of the homes are not compromised in the eventuality of any snags in the automation system.
The maintenance of the solution does not require expensive site visits all the time. The implementation should offer a choice of hybrid technologies to best suit the constraints of specific construction methods and size of the units.
Silvan Innovation Labs, a Bangalore-based company focused on providing automation products and solutions for homes and enterprises, is one of the very few companies in this space, which has developed technologies to address issues related to such large-scale deployments.
"We acknowledged very early in our journey that for us to scale with our B2B partners, we need more than just innovative products. We built an entire suite of technologies to ensure smooth deployment and maintenance at large scale, while ensuring that the acceptance of solutions by a large set of people and making it relevant for entire community," said Avinash K Gautam, CEO of Silvan.
Its focus on solutions for mass adoption and scalability in large projects has resulted in over 35 real-estate developers in India adopting Silvan's products and solutions for their projects, and several communities enjoying its solutions. Silvan has designed its products in a manner that it ensures co-existence of modern and traditional way of living, thereby ensuring no section of the house-hold feels alienated in homes automated by it.
Its cloud infrastructure, Integrated Property Service Manager (IPSM), converts a set of smart homes into a smart and connected community, thereby enabling community level services like centralised monitoring of security, and monitors the automation system in the homes for system health, thereby ensuring a very pro-active and effective system maintenance.
"We have taken an approach wherein we see home automation as a service to be provided and not just some products to be sold. Ultimately people are paying for experience and not the products," added Avinash.
Homeowners value such solutions coming from builders and service providers a lot because most of them do not know how to go about getting such solutions at affordable prices, and make them work, on their own. Hence, an approach focussed on scaling with large B2B partners holds a lot of promise for this business.