Our member devolo makes the home intelligent and the power grid smart. As one of the first manufacturers worldwide, devolo already offered a comprehensive Smart Home package consisting of nine different components in 2015 - together with a self-developed software platform, which makes setup and operation child's play. Since then, devolo gradually extends its product portfolio, expands the application fields of the Smart Home system and is one of the leading providers in the market. In our interview series Connected Heads Martin Pietzonka, the head of the office, spoke with the CEO of devolo, Heiko Harbers, about the activities and plans of devolo in the Smart Home segment, the market development, the impact of Google, Amazon and Co. and cooperation with the insurance industry. Read the interview here.
Dear Mr. Harbers, many users know devolo as a provider of powerline solutions. However, you are also successful in the Smart Home market. Which products do you currently offer in this segment?
- devolo Home Control comprises twelve smart modules, which can be flexibly combined with each other. The product portfolio will be further expanded in the coming year. In addition, Home Control is designed as an open platform. For example, Z-Wave certified products from other manufacturers can be integrated as well as the smart light control Philips Hue. The focus is on the Home Control app. The user-friendliness of the app is of great importance to us, because this is the interface with which our users get in touch daily. With Amazon Alexa, Home Control can also be controlled by voice. The integration of the Google Assistant will follow in the coming weeks.
In your opinion, what are the driving applications in the Smart Home sector? Which fields of application are best suited as an entry-level segment for users?
- It is crucial to offer the customer a secure, an open and, above all, a flexible Smart Home system. In other words, the customer is looking for future and investment security. That is why he chooses a system that holistically integrates the areas of energy saving, comfort and safety. In this way, the entry into the own Smart Home is achieved, for example, with a starter package, and later on, the own Smart Home is expanded step by step.
How do you assess the current development of the Smart Home market and how do you expect the market to develop in the coming years?
- The Smart Home market has gained momentum this year. One the one hand this can be seen by the positive development of the sales and on the other hand, in the increasing number of suppliers. Well-known examples of the new market participants are, for example, Amazon Echo and, more recently, Google Home.
Do you see Google, Amazon and Co. as a major threat to German manufacturers of Smart Home technologies? What are the key selling points for German manufacturers like devolo to differentiate themselves from international players?
- The new voice control systems of Google, Amazon and soon Apple will continue to drive the Smart Home market and complement the current systems in a meaningful way. They will not replace them, because the different technologies have their respective advantages. An example: devolo Home Control scores above all with simplicity in installation and daily operation. Secondly, Home Control covers all Smart Home areas: safety, comfort and efficient energy saving. In addition, many customers choose devolo because with Home Control they receive a secure Smart Home "Made in Germany".
Since the beginning of this year, you have been working together with the insurance group GENERALI in the Smart Home segment. How did this cooperation come about, how does your joint offer look exactly and what added value does the user have?
- The overall concept of Home Control convinced our insurance partners: simplicity, system stability and security. Devolo also scores as a reliable partner with a complete supply chain - from the rapidly scalable production to the service hotline. The user benefits twice: He is insured for the damage and has at the same time a Smart Home system for the prevention of major damages – for example through smart smoke detectors and intelligent water detectors.
From the point of view of devolo, has the retail already sufficiently been dealing with the topic Smart Home or do you want more commitment?
- Smart Home now reaches the mass market and thus completely new customer groups with other, much more general information requirements. And this is where retail with its professional staff comes into play. The new, much broader customer groups want a profounded and comprehensive consultation before choosing a Smart Home system. The personal talk with direct feedback closes the information gaps. There is still much potential in retail.
Interview with Heiko Habers, October 5, 2017.