Vivint: 'Disruptive innovation' key to success

Company sees 'more opportunity to disrupt' and joins new business trend by hiring chief innovation officer
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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

PROVO, Utah—“Disruptive innovation”—shaking up the traditional security model to create new markets—is a major reason for Vivint’s success, according to Vivint COO Alex Dunn. And he said the company plans to build on that success with its recent hire of a prominent strategy consultant whose job it is to focus on such innovation.

“We’re making a bet that there’s more opportunity to disrupt,” Dunn told Security Systems News regarding the hiring of Matthew Eyring as Vivint’s chief strategy and innovation officer.

Vivint, a summer-sales-model home automation/home security company based here, announced Eyring’s appointment earlier this month. In its Jan. 15 news release, Vivint said Eyring “will lead the organization’s directional growth initiatives in home automation, residential security and solar markets as well as provide guidance and direction on new initiatives.”

Having a chief innovation officer is a relatively new trend for businesses in general—and particularly for the security industry—so Vivint is innovating just by creating and filling the position. And with Eyring, Vivint now has an expert on disruptive innovation on its staff.

Dunn defined disruptive innovation as taking solutions that “traditionally have been complex and expensive” and transforming them into simple solutions consumers can afford.

Vivint—purchased last year by the Blackstone Group for more than $2 billion—has already done that in the home automation market, according to Eyring. He most recently was the managing partner of Innosight, a global strategy and innovation consulting firm, whose co-founder is Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen. Eyring told SSN that Christensen “coined the term ‘disruptive innovation.’”

Vivint is a home automation leader. It changed its name from APX Alarm in 2011 to mark its new emphasis on home automation services. Such services traditionally were too expensive for most consumers, but Dunn at the time said Vivint’s aim was to be “the first company in the home automation space that delivers simple, affordable, whole-home automation to the average Joe.”

Eyring said, “Disruptive innovation lets consumers enter a market where it makes things affordable and convenient and allows them access where they didn’t have access before.”

He continued, “I think that’s one of the key parts of the magic of what Vivint has done: They pioneered a business model … [that] has brought access to these services for a huge part of the market.”

According to Internet sources, the term “chief innovation officer” was coined in 1998.

Eyring said that in the general business world, more and more large, successful companies now are “picking up chief innovation officers” to help them come up with new growth verticals and initiatives. He said that innovation officers help shepherd the companies “through the early identification stage, shaping a business model and launching the market.”

Adding innovation officers appears to be a very recent trend in the security industry. Vivint is the second home security/home automation leader to recently add an innovation officer to its team. The ADT Corp. in October announced the hiring of cable industry veteran Arthur Orduña as its chief innovation officer.

Dunn said he was unaware ADT added an innovation officer, so that didn’t influence Vivint’s decision.

What did influence it, he said, is the fact that Vivint, founded in 1999, has grown so much. It now has more than 700,000 customers in the United States and Canada, which Dunn said will “hopefully soon to be 1 million customers.”

“When you were smaller you were able to focus on things like innovation,” Dunn said, “but as you get bigger, just keeping the existing business successful and the service quality high, all those things take up more and more time. … This hire was a specific commitment to making sure that we continue to innovate as a business.”

He added: “Innovation is a large part of our success up until this point and we believe it will continue to be a bigger and bigger part of our success in the future.”

Eyring said, “This industry is growing so quickly in home automation, and the desire to find new growth verticals and shape them and launch them in an efficient way is high, and that’s one of the chief reasons that I’ve been hired.”

He continued: “In the home automation space itself, including security, there’s a lot of room to move upmarket and provide new functionality, new products and new services, and Vivint is already doing that. Part of my job is to come up with new verticals that we can begin to spread and those could include home health [services].”

Todd Pedersen, Vivint CEO, told SSN last fall that Vivint is considering offering “basic in-home health care” that will include a PERS-style component but also a range of services. 

ADT announced this month it is adding remote home health management to its Pulse product.