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Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.

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Return to March 2023 ChannelPro Digital Edition
March 20, 2023 |

Building an MRR Service Around Smart Home Sensors

Installing, integrating, and supporting smart home sensors is a viable business model for channel pros.

SMART THERMOSTATS begat video doorbells as smart lights begat smart appliances begat a wide range of smart devices. Vendors claim many new sensors are DIY projects, but monitoring, securing, and analyzing data from smart sensors implies a need for professional services and an emerging market opportunity for channel pros.

To date, one obstacle to market adoption of smart sensors has been privacy concerns. “Consumer trust is a big hurdle when it comes to greater adoption of smart home technology,” particularly placing sensors in their more private spaces, says Jeff Bales, vice president of sales at Pepper, owner of the Notion product line.

Lack of standardization has been another hurdle, but “the Matter standard is a major step, and we expect it to drive application and service provider engagement tremendously,” says Jonathan Collins, smart home and buildings research director for ABI Research.

Vendors have also struggled to market simple consumer use cases that are readily understood by homeowners. However, Bales says, “Insurers are increasingly realizing the benefits of leveraging smart home tech to transform their industry, and many are offering smart home devices for free or heavily discounted in addition to discounts on their premiums.”

Applications

A major focus of sensors today is monitoring events that damage homes and apartments. “This includes things like water leaks, mold growth, fires, and other major perils,” Bales says.

Jonathan Collins

Homeowners can also use motion sensors for security or, when integrated with HVAC systems, to modify climate settings when no one is home. Even better, motion and contact sensors can track resident movements for Aging in Place (AIP) applications, with minimal privacy intrusion. “Motion and contact sensors ship in the tens of millions each year, leading most sensor types,” says Collins.

Some newer categories are also emerging, such as noise monitors to serve the short-term rental market.

Many sensors can be set up by owners in 15 minutes or less, says Bales, and Notion includes an app to customize their system.

DIY security systems such as those from SimpliSafe eliminate professional installers but the provider charges for remote monitoring. Multiple security monitoring services and MSPs now offer monthly support for computers and networking components in the home. Whether devices are DIY or professionally installed, the trend toward residential subscription services continues to increase, according to Collins. This a model channel pros are familiar with.

Moreover, professional security installers already mount and monitor various sensor types. “Contact sensors as well as water leak sensors are all quite readily understood within the installer market,” Collins says. Now they are extending their support to additional applications and service providers. This will require installers to shift from installation fees to a monthly recurring revenue model, says Collins. According to ABI research, Collins notes, “Installers are increasingly open to using off-the-shelf devices,” rather than vertically integrated or limited vendor systems.”

Collins suggests that monitoring a smart-enabled system for a homeowner will not only make that relationship more dynamic, but also shift from one-time repair visits and support fees to long-term maintenance and preventative care. While smarter monitors for damaging events such as fire and water leaks will save consumers the cost and inconvenience of a major disruption to their lives, “these will also benefit installers by providing work that can be more easily scheduled and staffed,” he explains.

Managed service providers have an opportunity to go far beyond security or smart homes, says Collins. “Given the scope of smart home systems and the ability to remote monitor and offer preventative/warranty care, there is certainly an opportunity to build subscription revenue user bases where the offer is energy management, assisted care, or even concierge services for appliances and systems in the home.”

Anaheim, Calif.-based home automation and security provider LiveSmart Technologies is one example of the possibilities. Owner and president Gary Russell searched at CES 2023 specifically for smart home sensors. His favorite? “Natural gas sensors for the kitchen that can detect a gas leak, send an alert, and start a fan. We’ll integrate these into the home automation system for seniors in the Aging in Place market.”

Image: iStock

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