If you’ve watched television in the last few months, you’re aware of Amazon Alexa and her competitors that make the vision of a connected home a bit clearer. Technological advancements in areas such as voice control and artificial intelligence are enabling manufacturers of home lighting, climate control systems and home theater equipment to carve out their place in the “connected home.”
However, a recent McKinsey survey of approximately 3,000 households shows that the market is far from saturated and that companies from all industries have a growing opportunity to establish the need for their products and services while integrating with other devices like wearables and smartphones.
So it makes sense that appliance manufacturers would seek a role in this ecosystem. Whether it’s through proprietary mobile apps that take control of appliances out of the kitchen and into the palm of a customer’s hand, or integration with existing technology such as Works with Nest or Amazon Alexa, connected appliances are moving beyond the infancy stage.
What exactly does this mean for consumers? When asked for their ideas about a connected appliance, consumers may think whimsically of Star Trek or The Jetsons. While the first generation of connected appliances can’t deliver a fully automated meal, they are no longer a futuristic idea. Connected appliances are available today and offer meaningful ways to change the customer’s experience.
Jenn-Air is one manufacturer that demonstrates this integration with a connected wall oven that offers remote control via a proprietary app and the ability to interact with the Nest Learning Thermostat. “By working with Nest, we can add peace of mind and comfort to a long list of the connected wall oven’s capabilities and performance features,” says Brian Maynard, director of marketing for Jenn-Air. “The combination of a dedicated, fully featured app and Nest intelligence takes our powerful connected wall oven to a whole new level of innovation.”
As appliances embrace this technology, they will have to address a broader need rather than their traditional product definition while still ensuring that the appliance continues to provide value that goes beyond its connected features.
Says Maynard, “Consumers aren’t asking appliances to cook their meal for them, so at this stage in our connected journey, we win when the customer becomes excited about using the features they already enjoy in a more accessible, frictionless way.”
Other ways that connected appliances are seeking to change the consumer’s experience are through the ability to coordinate service calls with a factory-trained technician and to facilitate the replacement of consumables such as water filters.