Since about half of today's smart-device owners require set-up assistance, tech support for smart homes is a big concern -- and opportunity -- for service providers.
In 2020, the US will see 13.5 million support requests derived from smart home devices and systems, compared with 11 million this year, according to "Tech Support: Influencing IoT Adoption."
Devices are getting more complex, using more sophisticated apps and increasingly integrated with other devices and smartphones, according to Parks Associates. That could mean more than half of consumers will seek post-sales support for deploying their new connected Internet of Things (IoT) device.
"Broadband providers have been interested in this space for a very long time. They had lots more connected devices coming into the home and people were calling the broadband provider for help," said Patrice Samuels, senior analyst at Parks Associates, in an interview. "And they're like, 'These are our customers. We have two options: We can turn them away and say, 'Okay, this is not really the umbrella of what we cover under our basic support,' or we can say, 'Hey we'll take care of that for you and charge you a premium or fees to take care of those issues for you.' So they've been dabbling in it for a long time."
Because it's an immature market subject to product failures today, most support is included in the device price, she said. However, some businesses have carved out a niche by providing fee-based set-up services, she said.
In addition to exploring ways to improve home Wi-Fi to eliminate connectivity-related calls, broadband providers also are exploring premium services for smart homes, said Samuels, whose clients include tech support companies hired by large manufacturers. In time, Samuels expects service providers to hire these firms to support their residential subscribers' smart home solutions.
— Alison Diana, Editor, UBB2020. Follow us on Twitter @UBB2020 or @alisoncdiana.