IT is coming home

September 2015

House and gardenPatrick Oliphant MBCS, Server System Manager at Monsoon Accessorize Ltd and the co-founder of connectedhomeworld.com, an internet portal for the connected home industry, takes a look at the increasing importance of the connected home market and its implications for IT professionals.

In the near future more IT professionals will be making house calls like any other skilled professionals. The calls will not be just about a PC failure or removing some virus or malware, it will be more involved just like working at a commercial level. The connected home market is growing its own IT industry, an environment where computers are connected to household appliances and all connected to the internet at the same time.

For many years IT professionals, (me included), would setup our own home network and help our neighbours, family and friends with their IT issues.

For those in the know there is a whole bigger IT market coming to the domestic IT sector. According to MarketsandMarkets last year the global connected homes market was valued at $20.38 billion and this is expected to reach $58.68 billion by 2020.

What is the connected home and why is it important for IT professionals to know about it? A simple answer is: it will be an extension of the same technologies that we use in our everyday professional life plus more; these include storage, security, networking and entertainment systems. Started as a hobbyist activity, home automation has evolved into what we now called the connected home and, at the same time, has created an industry of its own.

The connected home sector is also set to play a major role in modernising our electrical grid infrastructure. Consumer electronics (CE) manufacturers and software houses are investing millions and creating new solutions that will help us to better interact and manage our homes and its appliances. At the heart of all these changes is IT, the same technology, but used in a different way.

IT professionals now have another market to transfer their skills, the homes of the future - the connected home and all its devices. Our home network will extend to the outside world-allowing home owners to access and manage appliances and systems in their homes - everything down to our light bulbs will be connected to the internet, wired or wirelessly.

In preparation for the need to be connected the leading home appliance manufacturers such as LG, Whirlpool, Samsung and Sony are adding some type of connection - ethernet or some other type of wireless or both - in their appliances.

The connected home industry sees this type of setup as only getting bigger and more complicated having the same IT issues as some small businesses. This is where the IT professional with the technical knowhow will be needed.

  1. As an IT professional I think your skill will be easily transferable with an almost flat learning curve: The learning curve will not be as steep as someone who has not worked with the technology.
  2. Security: The need to keep our privacy is paramount in the emerging connected home therefore homeowners will want a whole home security solution, and not just those that are installed on a single PC, but rather a solution that secures the home from the gateway/router.
  3. Entertainment: Most of our home entertainment systems today are IP/ethernet enabled, allowing them to be part of the home network and connect directly to the internet. Home owners are installing multi-room solutions that require basic to advance level IT knowledge.
  4. Energy management: The UK has set itself a target of installing smart meters in most UK homes by 2015. Unlike the regular energy meters where someone has to visit our home to take the reading, these meters will record and transfer our energy data to the suppler in real-time, via the web.

As IT professionals we can take advantage of this growing market, where our skills are needed and adaptable.

Image: iStock/104271534

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