Mobile apps benefit consumers, dealers and installers

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

YARMOUTH, Maine—People value convenience, and in many cases in the security space that means connectivity to mobile devices. Executives from Bosch Security Systems and Honeywell Security and Fire talked with Security Systems News about the ways mobile apps are evolving in the security space, from replacing existing technologies to further benefiting dealers and installers.

“It’s about convenience for the end user,” Ilan Dee, director of product marketing, cloud services, Honeywell Security and Fire, told SSN.

“The future of the security and home automation space is around convenience,” Dee said. “You want your security system to work in the background and only alert you, and only be involved, when you need to interact with it.”

Apps are changing the way users interact with panels and could replace keypads, in some cases, “because you can do a lot of the same functionality that you could previously do on the keypad [and] you always have your phone with you, for the most part,” Paul Garms, Bosch Security Systems' director of regional marketing – intrusion systems, told SSN.

Bosch has two mobile apps geared to end users, Garms said. Remote Security Control, connects users to the company’s intrusion panel and allows them to view live video from connected Bosch IP cameras, Garms said. Remote Security Plus, Bosch’s second app, includes Remote Security Control’s features as well as connecting other home automation systems.

“There’s been functionality on the keypad that you don't have on the app, but I can see, as the apps evolve and become more sophisticated, a lot of users may opt to never install a keypad for their security system,” Garms continued.

Honeywell’s Dee also sees the potential for app functionality to influence panel design. “[Now,] we’re in a mobile-first generation. The need to have that touchscreen on your security panel somewhat goes away, in some circumstances.” 

Honeywell’s main end user-facing app is its Total Connect 2.0, which allows users to arm and disarm the panel, as well as control connected home devices. Honeywell developed the app throughout 2016 with monthly additions including new push notifications and integrations, such as with August’s smart lock and SkyBell’s video doorbell.

In November 2016, Honeywell unveiled its Lyric Gateway panel, which only features a keypad and allows users additional home controls through Honeywell’s Total Connect 2.0 app. The simplified panel also opens the possibility for an easier set-up and install.

Apps are not only for the consumer, but have potential for integrators in the installing space. “That’s certainly one area that we see developing in the future,” Garms said. Bosch doesn’t offer an app in this category currently but is looking into it, he continued.

“There is a big push now … in the industry of: as margins become tighter at the integrator level they’re looking for higher efficiencies in their installation process,” Sean Murphy, Bosch’s director of regional marketing – video systems, told SSN. “The apps are one way they’re looking at potentially providing that, so they can do more installations quicker, they have more flexibility on site, and things generally take less time.”

Honeywell Security and Fire’s Alice DeBiasio said that many of Honeywell’s mobile app users are residential but the company also sees demand in the small-to-medium business space.

Bosch sees similar demographics. Mobile apps are essentially a “requirement” in the residential space, Murphy said, as well as predominant in the SMB market.

Apps are driven by the residential market, according to Murphy. “I would say that the residential apps, from a feature standpoint and cool things you can do, tend to be a little bit more on the bleeding edge,” he said.

Apps become an RMR opportunity for dealers through making users more engaged, stickier customers that better understand the value of their system, according to Debiasio, as well as being a platform to offer additional services that drive more RMR. “From a monetization standpoint [dealers] could have tiered types of offerings,” she said. 

Bosch’s Murphy predicted that app features will generally fall into one of two levels. On one level is the standard mobile app features that consumers expect to have, such as remote arming and disarming. Another set of features would be “premium” features, which users would be willing to pay for or cause them to pick a certain company, he said. Bosch offers the feature to run forensic searches on other cameras; this would be an example of a premium feature, he said.

Expectations of a mobile app will grow and expand, making premium features more standard over time, according to Murphy.

Dee predicted that systems will see more automation in the future. “[Security is] not a fully automated experience yet,” he said. “You’re still having to go in and arm your security system or disarm your security system. To me, the future of this business is true home automation.”

Dee continued, “I think data becomes a very important discussion as apps move forward and as platforms move forward—the apps are collecting more data than they’ve ever done before—and how they can use that data to learn and help the user."