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Think smart: time to add value

While the opening presentations of Monday’s Smart Building Conference focused on the opportunity that smart buildings provide to integrators, the first session of the afternoon analysed some of the challenges.

Gwen De Meyer’s custom install company Van Havere started, like so many, by providing all-home audio – but now delivers a complete home automation capability. For De Meyer, the initial challenge lies in not just understanding the customer’s lifestyle – but also understanding how that may develop over time, and the impact of those possible changes on the installation. He also noted how IP is transforming the custom install business: lower hardware prices make systems more affordable, but margins are smaller. There is, he said, always an external factor that will create a challenge. Often, this can be an architect whose design must be respected. On other occasions, the customer will develop an interest in home automation technology: not only is this likely to create new demands – a DVD server, for example, or a home cinema system – but also challenge the integrator to justify his choices and prices. De Meyer summarised by noting that, despite the challenges, smart homes are a growing market. He recommended that installers look to ensure that they create added value; that they focus on service, not products; and, above all, that they have fun and enjoy the challenge that each new project brings.