The unexpected link between a SmartHome and building a SmartBusiness


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By Paul Armstrong

Are you your household's Chief Digital Officer? Do you help make the major decisions on which technology to purchase for the house? Be it a new dishwasher, automatic garage door, or one of the newer gadgets like ChromeCast, Apple TV, or an Amazon Echo?

Did you choose your Internet service provider and then later make the call to switch to a better email service; so long POP3, hello Gmail. Perhaps you once had to find a free open-source alternative to Microsoft Office. Or decided that Mac was better than Windows for your family. Did you also help decide if your family was Android or iPhone? And then had to deal with that one child that went rogue by choosing the other phone brand? Turning you into an expert of both; whether you like it or not.

Whoever this person is in your home, it’s who the family turns to when things go wrong. And they will always try and fix it themselves first. Sometimes they will grudgingly get an expert in, but regardless they do what it takes to make sure the household runs and runs well.

Whoever this person is in the household - you, your partner, or some delegation to your now tech savvy teenager - They are a Guru Chief Digital Officer.

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They understand hardware, software, integration, procurement, CapEx, OpEx, and vendor relationships. They understand the legacy investments you’ve made into refrigeration, heating, and cooling. They understand software installation and anytime, anywhere on any device. And all while they also have an eye on the future technology path for your household.

If they haven't already, they will soon be learning about the Smart Homes; voice and movement sensor activation; IFTTT software integration; Home Kits and bridges; and more.

They probably also do the change management. Selling the vision and then gently guiding the family through the switch (or not so gently if it’s your teenager). Dealing with the obvious technical issues - “How does the new microwave's defrost work?" And paradigm shifts - “Let’s not buy new cookbooks, but collect and share recipes on-line".

And chances are they do all of this very well. Sure, there are some regretted purchases. There may be nagging issues, but you prioritise and work through the problems making the most pragmatic decisions. Listening to the families concerns and supporting them while you come up with a solution.

You are making smart decisions to make a smart home. Your kids might even call you the home's smartypants.

The problem is when you go to work you stop being smart.

Here’s an interesting business statistics that you would not put up with at home. On average, businesses get a mere 1% productivity gain from technology investment.

“Hey Honey. I know we weren’t looking for one, but I got us a new dishwasher which will reduce the cycle time from 90 minutes to 89 minutes and 6 seconds. And it didn’t cost us much more than our current dishwasher!”

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I can not write the scream that would match the bloodcurdling reaction you would get from that.

What’s more interesting is how you would justify this.

“But honey, I have a strategy to standardise our hardware investments. Can’t you see that having the same brand of appliances in the kitchen, living, and laundry is important?”

“But honey, the dishwasher is now integrated with our smart TV.”

“But honey, everyone loves blue dishwashers. No one was ever un-loved for buying a new, blue dishwasher.”

If you did and said these things, then I bet your new spending would be very closely monitored. In fact, your delegated-financial-authority may even get revoked entirely. With shopping trips being by appointment only and supervised.

Worse, your partner may discuss your purchasing decisions with your friends and relatives. And then, at the next party, you become the butt of all the jokes. “Hey, your wines looking a bit low can I top you up by 1%? Don’t drink that 2mls all at once!”

Why does it all go so wrong in business? Why is business so different and so strange such that at work we make such poor investment decisions?

All businesses are about making or saving money. You may decide to improve the quality of service for your customers, mitigate a security risk, or improve employee experience - but the reason you do these things is to make or save money. In the language of sports - does this make the boat go faster? In business it should be - will this make us or save us more money?

We have filled our homes with a plethora of different technology brands. Different brands in whiteware, home entertainment, lighting, heating, and cooling. BYOD is rife, and everyone has their favourite apps and favourite ways of using them.

Soon Smart Homes will step this up another notch, and you will be challenged to integrate lighting, heating, security, and more, to people's phones and apps. To create a home that is “intuitive” to your needs and wants and which responds automatically and efficiently.

Each home is already very different from the next. And the new technology choices will make them even more complicated and different. But I predict that you will continue to be successful when you make your home investment choices. Why? Because you will continue to do at home what you should do in business:

  • You will make your purchase decisions in line with what your family's goals are.
  • You will make your investment in the right order. A smart light-bulb at home is no good without a smart control system; until you have the second device all you’ve got is an expensive light-bulb.
  • You will make investment choices for your needs, not your neighbours; what the Jones’s choose to do next door is interesting, but not mandatory.
  • You will leverage past investment. It turns out you don’t have to replace your light bulbs with smart-light-bulbs to have a smart-lighting experience. It turns out installing smart light switches can achieve the same thing with existing bulbs.
  • You will invest in people and technology together. If your family can’t or won’t use it - don’t buy it. Create the need first, and then you’ll have them asking you for the next home upgrade.

Become a digital smartypants in business like you are at home. Be guided in business, like at home, to make digital investments that are right for your business. Building your own smart business - unique and right for you.

Contact Paul Armstrong here to have a chat.