On this episode of the IoT For All Podcast, Kent Dickson, VP and GM of IoT Platforms and Service for Allegion, joins Ryan Chacon to discuss smart homes. Kent talks about smart home products transitioning to aid businesses, particularly in home rentals. He analyzes the current tech and how it impacted the short-term rental experience. Ryan and Kent then discuss the current landscape of the smart space industry, with Kent sharing insights on trends and challenges he’s witnessed. The podcast is wrapped up with what to look out for from Yonomi and the smart space industry.
Kent Dickson is an experienced technology leader who enjoys building great teams and disruptive products. He is VP and GM of IoT Platforms & Services for Allegion, a global pioneer in seamless access, with leading brands like CISA®, Interflex®, LCN®, Schlage®, SimonsVoss®, and Von Duprin®. Before Allegion, Kent was co-founder and CEO of Yonomi, the simple connected home integration platform, which joined the Allegion family of brands in January 2021. Kent’s background includes serving as General Manager of GridMachine, a massive scale Grid Computing-as-a-Service operated as a business unit of Sentient AI. Kent spent nine years at BEA Systems, leading the teams for several market-defining products in the WebLogic and AquaLogic lines. Kent has spent ten years working on the smart home frontier, partnering with leading device makers, voice assistants, AI innovators, and service providers. Kent holds a BS in Aerospace Engineering and an MBA from the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Interested in connecting with Kent? Reach out to him on Linkedin!
Yonomi is a simple connected home integration platform. Yonomi is the easiest way to integrate connected home products to build residential IoT solutions. The platform provides the tools and frameworks needed to connect quickly, control, and automate smart home devices. Yonomi software is used in more than 1.2 million homes globally and integrates more than 2.7 million residential devices. Yonomi is a part of the Allegion family of brands. Allegion is a global pioneer in seamless access, with leading brands like CISA®, Interflex®, LCN®, Schlage®, SimonsVoss®, and Von Duprin®. Focusing on security around the door and adjacent areas, Allegion secures people and assets with a range of solutions for homes, businesses, schools, and institutions. Allegion had $2.7 billion in revenue in 2020, and its security products are sold worldwide.
Key Questions and Topics from this Episode:
(01:29) Introduction to Kent and Yonomi
(05:21) Home and Business Automation Transition
(07:56) smart home tech for Renters
(12:10) Where are the smart spaces trends taking us
(15:28) Challenges in the smart spaces industry
(19:36) What to look out for from Yonomi
– [Voice Over] You are listening to the IoT For All Media Network.
– [Ryan] Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of the IoT For All Podcast. I’m your host, Ryan Chacon, and on today’s episode, we have Kent Dickson, the VP and GM of IoT Platforms and Services at Allegion. Allegion owns a brand called Yonomi which is where he focuses his time. And Yonomi is a simple connected home integration platform, very interesting product actually, and platform. So if you get a chance make sure you go check that out. This conversation is focused a lot on smart home technology; what the landscape looks like, kind of how it’s grown over the last number of years. What’s really enabling this transition from home automation to now more business automation within the space regarding these devices. We also talk about just kind of the growth of this trend from when he started Yonomi into now where it is, what’s contributing to that trends, and where we see those trends kind of taking us. So very interesting conversation, especially if you’re very interested in the smart home technology space as it relates to, not just consumers, but also the business side as well. So really recommending you listen to this episode. But before we get into this episode, if any of you out there are looking to enter the fast growing and profitable IoT market but don’t know where to start, check out our sponsor Leverege. Leverege’s IoT Solutions development platform provides everything you need to create turnkey IoT products that you can white label and resell under your own brand. To learn more, go to iotchangeseverything.com, that’s iotchangeseverything.com. And without further ado, please enjoy this episode of the IoT For All Podcast. Welcome Kent to the IoT For All Show. Thanks for being here this week.
– [Kent] Hey Ryan, it’s good to see you, and hear from you again.
– [Ryan] Yeah, I know we, we spoke a little while back and had some really good conversation around what’s going on over at Yonomi, and I know there’s been some changes with the recent acquisition, so I’m very happy to have you back to talk more about what’s been going on since we last spoke. But for those of our audience members who may not have heard that episode or be as familiar, could you start off by just giving a quick introduction about yourself?
– [Kent] Sure, excuse me. Yeah, I’m Kent. When we spoke before I was CEO and co-founder of Yonomi. We were formed in 2013 as a unifying platform for smart home devices, and to unleash sort of the collective value of the whole, rather than the some of the parts of the inevitable arrival of smart devices into smart spaces. And we were very, very focused on the residential piece of that and the residential types of devices, and user experiences, and everything else. For many years, we continue to care quite a lot about that, and is the center of our focus. We have a platform, as I mentioned, that is available for developers to code against smart home or smart spaces. We always thought that the greatest innovation in most segments is really kind of come from the software layer when that power gets unleashed. And so we always felt the developer experience or the challenge with integrating with a lot of devices was so great that it was a threshold that couldn’t be cleared by the mass majority of developers and innovators. So we wanted to lower that barrier to entry, make it much, much easier. So we integrate with lots of different devices, or hundreds of different devices that we integrate with. We collect those up all through a single API, we think is very advanced and superior developer experience. And then we get to observe as our customers and partners do really exciting, innovative things. And so we continue on that path. You mentioned that a lot’s happened here. About a year ago this time we were acquired by Allegion, so now we’re part of that family of products which includes The Schlage Locks that many people know. That’s one of the brands within Allegion that is probably most well known. And they were already a big partner as well as a customer of our platform. And so now we’re part of the family. We still operate as Yonomi, our own brands, and our platform, and we continue to push the bar forward on the things that we’ve always been working on, but inevitably we’ll continue to go even further beyond residential into multifamily into commercial and institutional smart spaces, eventually. We have big aspirations.
– [Ryan] Fantastic, that was a great overview. I remember the first time we spoke and kind of when I started to learn about what you had going on at Yonomi, I thought it was very kinda ingenious of the way you’ve kind of, built your product for multiple smart home devices from many different brands to connect and be interacting with all in one place. So I’m glad things have been going well since that conversation. And I wanted to have our chat today, talk a little bit more about kind of the evolution of the smart home technology landscape, and since we last spoke, it’s changed a decent amount. You know, we’re transitioning from this idea of more of comfort and convenience, I guess is an interesting way to kind of describe it to a world where you can actually drive real business results for products and services that are really operating in the home. So home automation to business automation kind of vibe across the board with these devices. And I’d love if you could expand and talk a little bit about that transition that’s been happening over the last couple years.
– [Kent] Yeah, you bet. I think that’s a good characterization of it too, Ryan. Home automation, you know, had a lot of attention and focus for a long time, but when you start putting in the context of what’s the business opportunity that’s really being unleashed by this, and then you start talking about what business automation really means. So certainly there’s a lot of value in consumers being able to just, you know, have that comfort and convenience of, you know, arriving home and the temperatures the right temperature and the music is playing, and, you know, the door unlocks perhaps. And that’s wonderful, and that’s really important. Like the consumers really have to feel like they get value out of the smart devices that surround them. But as I mentioned a moment ago, you know, the real the innovations that are going to change the outcome of our daily lives are how businesses are going to be able to help leverage these smart devices to create better products and services for you, the consumer. And so that’s, you know, where a lot of our attention is these days, in the platform for those folks who are creating a lot of vacation rental types of use cases. As well as multifamily or MDU types of use cases, insurance, energy management. There are whole companies who are coming up with great new solutions. Some that did used to exist, and now they’re just digitizing them, or making them much more efficient. And in some cases, brand new things that didn’t used to exist because they couldn’t have in a sort of analog world, right.
– [Ryan] Yeah, it’s interesting that you kind of mentioned that ’cause one of the questions I had to follow up here was around what’s really enabling this transition and you, you know, really kind of nailed where my mind was going which is utilizing these smart home technologies in other settings that it’s still for the end user, you know, the person who’s renting a vacation home, or moving into a new apartment, to them it’s still that comfort and convenience side of things, right. But for the business side of it, the people who are managing those properties, the people who are managing, like from the hospitality standpoint, short-term rentals, like we’ve talked about, there’s real value they can get out of this data that these devices are able to collect to not only provide value to those people utilizing their property, but for themselves as a business. Like you said, energy savings, and I’m sure a number of other things as well.
– [Kent] Yeah, indeed, and, you know, it’s really profound when you think about things like short-term rental or multifamily sort of apartment property management, the way that it has been up until very recently is just the managing access, right, For people showing up, whether they’re the renters, or service people, or cleaners, or whomever, being able to do that as basically, you know, a push notification with a pin code or whatever that says, right. “You’re about to arrive at the property that you’ve rented, “and here’s your pin code that will work “during the period of your stay.” Or you’re the cleaning person who’s coming now that the person is checked out of this property, you’re the cleaning person who’s coming, and here’s your one time access code to get in. And the fact that there’s not a person getting in a car and driving to that property and meeting those people and unlocking the door or exchanging the key with them, which has its own security, you know, issues, just the efficiency of that is amazing in terms of savings for those business people. And then bring it back to the consumer, just that the consumer experience is way better for that too. Like, you know, the individual renting that Airbnb or whatever, they really want to actually to have a face to face meeting with the owner of the property and go though that whole rigamarole, or do they just wanna show up there.
– [Ryan] Yeah. I mean I remember as a kid when like my family would rent properties and we would go, you had to go to the place to pick up the keys. You had to sign the paperwork. You had to handle it all. And then you went to the property, but lately, anytime I’ve gone to like an Airbnb, I mean, they’re just literally sending you a code to the door and you’re able to get in and everything is set up internally without them having to handle that, you know, personally, which is I think very efficient and everyone benefits.
– [Kent] Yeah, indeed, and then you mentioned about the other opportunities in that to automate things both while creating a better consumer experience, but it also just creating more efficiency, or higher margin, you know, if you will, for your rental is, you know when the person has checked in or checked out, when they literally left, or when they’ve arrived. And so things like, you know, the thermostats and whatnot can adjust automatically to save energy. So make sure everybody’s comfortable, job number one, but when nobody’s there, make sure you’re saving money, saving energy and that type of thing. And also, for some of these properties that may sit vacant for a while, not only is it great to have energy savings, but boy having sensors and things like that, that know if something’s going wrong like a leak. You know, a leak in an apartment, or a condo, or a vacation home can be very, very costly, and the fact that there can be alerts or there can be automated things even that turn off the water if a leak is detected can be huge you know, upside for the businesses who operate those properties.
– [Ryan] So let me ask, you know, we kinda talked about now how far lot of this has come, not just since the last time we spoke, but even kind of going past that and bringing it back to now, where are these trends that we’re talking about, where do you think it’s leading us? Like, where does this continue to evolve to? I mean, this has obviously come a long way in such a short period of time, but just through your eyes and, you know, how close you are to the market and this space particularly, where are these trends really taking us?
– [Kent] Well, I think most people, you know, have heard the sort of headline attributed to Mark Andreessen, like maybe 10 or even 15 years ago, “Software is eating the world.” And you’ve seen that in every sort of segments, that’s eventually the level of sort of software, you know, value stack, I guess you would say that exists for different markets and segments gets great enough that the innovation really starts to spin, and that’s where the value gets created more with the software stack. You know, that was always as I described earlier, it was always the vision for Yonomi is that we would enable that for smart spaces. And so that continues to be my prediction where this all goes is that we’ll just see more and more of those innovations. And they’ll come, you know, in the form just as we were saying, you know, yes, comfort and convenience and consumer experience needs to be the thing that rules the day. Nobody wants extra features or weird things in there that they didn’t ask for, or didn’t expect, or don’t enjoy, but at the end of the day, these things are going to create new businesses, or create new ways of delivering services that have always been around like vacation rental, and they’ll get more efficient, they’ll get more profitable, they’ll get better for the consumer along the way. And it is in, really, all these spaces or, you know, there’s a whole lot of surface area to address there. The ones that, you know, we’re really mostly focused on today really are that vacation rental, multifamily property managements, insurance, and energy management, but it goes far beyond that, and especially once you get into other types of spaces. Maybe the retail spaces. Maybe there’re schools and universities experiences and how, you know, what are sort of the innovations that happen there once, you know, basically, you know, really, you know, kind of focused kinda software-oriented type of startup or existing business has the ability to just, you know, encode and start creating new user experiences based on the devices that are probably already on site there.
– [Ryan] Absolutely, yeah it’s very exciting to kind of think about what this is going to enable, not just because of how far we’ve come, like we said, in a short period of time, but where we can kind of just creatively imagine these technologies can continue to optimize and improve efficiencies for both sides of this equation. So, it’s super interesting for sure. I did wanna ask you though, also, so as we’re thinking about this, it’s obviously great conversation to have, and very exciting to talk about, but there’s always going to be some level of challenges with this kind of transition as we grow into the future, you know, particularly relating potentially to interoperability, just technologies changing fast, right, with different protocols, with different brands. What does all of this kind of do to that growth, and how do we kind of prepare to handle those challenges as they present themselves?
– [Kent] I think that’s a really important topic. I mean, interoperability means a lot of things, but generally speaking, the way we think about interoperability is that let’s talk about one of those innovators, somebody like hospitable.com who has a platform that is used for vacation rental and they’re now using our platform to access some Schlage locks for the properties and everything else. But we want for a company like that is to say, you know, we’ve got this platform, and one of the many the things that we do, one of the many values that we provide to consumers is access. And so we should be able, we being their software product team, develop basically, you know, a feature that says, this is how we’ll distribute, you know, pin codes, or other credentials, or even, you know, one day just with your phone proximity be able to unlock and authenticate. But there should be one way to do that for them. You know, there are, you know, dozens of different types of smart locks and access systems and everything else that might be on those homes, Hospitable doesn’t own those homes. They’re not actually installing the gear there. The owners of those properties use their platform, and they can install whatever the heck they want. So in Hospitable’s case, to unlock that value, if they had like one common way, one common API just do access, one common way to do thermostatic, you know, control and efficiency, one common way to get alerts from smoke detectors or water leak sensors, or whatever. Then what that enables for them is like, rather than spending, you know, man years integrating with every single one of those types of devices, they’re actually doing it one time for each type of device, and therefore, the other 90% of their time, they’re really focused on user experience. That’s gonna be the thing that wins the day here is creating great user experiences. I mean, we are plumbers, that is our fate at Yonomi. Like, we are the ones who integrate with all these things and normalize that and everything else. And, you know, so standing on our shoulders, you know, we wanna see other people really innovating on the user experience side of things so that things are seamless, easy, comfortable, safe, convenient, and everything else. Focus on those things and less on plumbing. We’d like to make that be a non-issue for folks.
– [Ryan] Absolutely, yeah, I’m very curious to kinda see how this continues to evolve. I think you’ve shed a lot of light on a lot of different things connected to kind of where we’re going, how we got to where we are, and it’s definitely something to be optimistic and excited about, so, you know, this conversation’s been a great kind of addition to our first one, and it sounds like there’s a lot of exciting things to kind of stay in touch about. I did wanna ask, so on your side of things, as we kind of bring it back to the work you’re doing. Anything kind of, I guess we should be on the look out for, anything exciting, interesting that you’re kind of you’re either putting out or looking forward to happening this year that we can just kind of pay attention to?
– [Kent] Well, on our sides, we released kinda a new version of our Yonomi platform last year. That is, I think we described it as a second generation of the Yonomi platform. And it’s a pretty new take on developer experiences more focused on GraphQL and traits so that there’s like a really common way to do everything, you know, on a lock, or on a thermostat, or whatever. And we think that it just has really raised the bar in terms of developer experience, and the speed and ease of using the platform as a software developer. So the new platform, as I mentioned, came out last year, but we continue to add a lot of features and new integrations and stuff to it this year. So please keep an eye on that I would say. The other thing that I think is just great for the industry is the Matter standard from the Connectivity Standards Alliance. And there’s been a lot of hype about that and it’s great, I think some of the first products that will be Matter compatible will be released this year as Matter gets finalized. And, you know, the whole purpose of that is interoperability, but it’s a different type of interoperability, or it’s not exactly, I should say, the same type of interoperability that we’re solving, it’s interoperability for devices themselves. So when that when they get installed in a home and come on a network or whatever, it’s just much easier to get them connected. We’ve all gone through the thing where you gotta, you know, plug in the smart plug, and then, you know, switch your wifi to join that wifi, and then instructed how to join your local wifi. It’s a bad user experience. Something that, you know, my mother-in-law, you know, does not wanna have to deal with. I think Matter is gonna make those things much, much easier and much more consumer grade. You just buy device, bring it home, it’s gonna be easy to commission, provision, install, and then be discovered by other devices on your network. I think that’s a great thing from a consumer experience standpoint, but what it doesn’t do is create that aggregated developer experience so that for a smart home or a smart apartment there’s one way to actually build an app or solution, and that’s still the position that we are solving. But what Matter will do I think is get more devices into homes and apartments, and that’s gonna be good for the industry.
– [Ryan] Fantastic, yeah, I totally agree with you. For our audience out there that wants to learn more and kinda stay in touch and ask any follow up questions and just understand everything that’s going on in you all’s space, what’s the best way to do that?
– [Kent] We’re at, yonomi.com, Y-O-N-O-M-I.com, and check us out there. We’re trying to publish more and more content on some of these use cases and how people are using the platform and creating new types of businesses and everything else there. And there’s also convenient ways to reach out to us through that website.
– [Ryan] Fantastic, well, Kent, this has been a great conversation. I appreciate you taking time again to talk to our audience, and we may have to make this a regular thing, have to have you back to continue to update us on the space that you occupy as it relates to smart homes, smart buildings, you know, kind of everything when it comes to these devices that we’re talking about. It’s a very popular area, and I love the stuff that you have going on. So we’ll have to make this more of a regular cadence between the two of us.
– [Kent] That’d be great. It’s always a pleasure, Ryan. Thanks so much.
– [Ryan] Thank you. All right, everyone, thanks again for watching that episode of the IoT For All Podcast. If you enjoyed the episode, please click the thumbs up button, subscribe to our channel, and be sure to hit the bell notifications so you get the latest episodes as soon as they become available. Other than that, thanks again for watching, and we’ll see you next time.