Smart Homes – Better Future

Smart Homes – Better Future

Every industry (every where) has been bombarded for years about the impending, game-changing ‘internet of things’, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see how overwhelmingly disparate our connected objects actually are.  Lots of stuff, little interaction.

Meanwhile we’re all sat waiting for a hub,  a glue to bind these technologies into something meaningful. And here’s the shocker… There is no hub.  That’s why it’s been such a long wait.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean we should throw the baby out with the bath water, that technology can’t help us ‘in the now’. Some equipment, such as the Switchee meters I’m designing a trial with, seem like a really promising way to detect and reduce fuel poverty among our customers. We’re not expecting it to lock the doors at night or sync with our iPod (do people even have iPods anymore?) but as a solution to our specific problem, fuel poverty, it could go places.

The smart home for us is one that utilises technology to solve a problem, cost effectively. It’s a home that can provide us with information that helps us target help to those who want or need it. It’s a home that safeguards our vulnerable customers while support workers and family are elsewhere.

Even with a clear focus, adopting early solutions can backfire badly, as consumers of Revolv have found out.  Or, in the ebb and flow of government benefit cuts, we might find we’re unable to sustain a building model we’ve spent months designing the technology for. Judicious risk planning is a must alongside implementing new technology.

The long and short of our launch session for ‘Smart Homes – what it means for Bromford’ can be seen in the google slides below. Part of the brief is the exploration of potential new markets Bromford could, and may have to, enter. Technology could be implemented throughout the building and design process to minimize the need for ongoing management. Just a few thoughts!


Explore More – How to give your innovation efforts the best start

Explore More – How to give your innovation efforts the best start

Usually performance reviews are good for two things:

  1. Creating more work, usually in the way of forms to fill in and…
  2. Personal development (yuck!)

That said Vicky and I also took the opportunity to look at our innovation pipeline in a bit more detail and, considering the successes and failures over the last year, seek to build on it…

Involving customers early on in the engineer visits concept was an overwhelming success, providing the team with exactly the sort of feedback we needed to redevelop our service offer before sharing the next iteration. Customer feedback and colleague insight can easily get us to this first ‘service design’ – with the added benefit of not approaching customers with a blank piece of paper.

We also identified that keeping control of high profile concepts is an ongoing battle. I’ve witnessed stakeholders trying to accelerate new-born concepts straight through to pilot if the concepts have received lots of hype. If you’re not sure what’s wrong with that, click here for my post on tests v. pilots post. Innovation is as much about winning hearts and minds as following a pipeline, guys.

Vicky and I also talked about how, while concepts do need a certain level of individual design, without a physical reminder of the pipeline I’ll start winging it for sure.  No Bueno. If concepts worked we wouldn’t know why and couldn’t repeat it. If they didn’t we couldn’t be certain about what we’ve learned…

So without further ado here is the first installment of our innovation pipeline – the six stages of exploration needed before you start mocking up ideas and solutions.

Got any comments, praise or just want a shoulder to cry on? Hit me up on the particularly inspiring account@ThomasHartland or chat to all of us @BromfordLab. More to come!