With Matter standardizing the smart home market, how can brands differentiate themselves and offer a unique digital experience? Andy Watson, Director of Product Management and IoT Lead at Rightpoint, joins Ryan Chacon on the IoT For All Podcast to discuss the impact of Matter on the IoT market. They explore the benefits that Matter brings to the IoT market, differentiating your brand amidst standardization, the challenges Matter poses to branded digital experiences, opportunities for innovation, strategic partnerships, and excelling in a post-Matter world.
As Rightpoint’s Digital Product IoT Lead, Andy Watson is passionate about creating products that bridge the physical-digital divide of the Internet of Things by providing human-centric mobile and web app experiences. His has over a decade of experience with end-to-end solution delivery across multiple technologies and industries, including smart home, retail, travel, robotics, home improvement, manufacturing, healthcare, sustainability, banking, and NFPs.
Interested in connecting with Andy? Reach out on LinkedIn!
Rightpoint drives digital transformation by delivering engaging customer experiences across products and operations. As a global product and experience leader, their team of 800 experts across 12 offices helps clients bring the right solutions to the right problems. Some of their standout IoT innovations include creating a connected in-car experience for Cadillac’s LYRIQ electric vehicle, developing a user-friendly controller for Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot, and designing a touchless water dispenser from Natural Choice that delivered increased hygiene during the COVID-19 pandemic. With a human-centered approach, they bring digital products to life.
Key Questions and Topics from this Episode:
(16:14) Strategic partnerships
(18:45) Excelling in a post-Matter world
(21:09) Learn more and follow up
– [Ryan] Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of the IoT For All Podcast. I’m Ryan Chacon, and on today’s episode, we’re going to talk about the benefits that Matter will bring to the market. And joining me today is Andy Watson, the Director of Product Management and the IoT Lead at Rightpoint. They are a company that is focused on delivering engaging customer experiences across products and operations. Fantastic episode. I think you’ll get a lot of value out of it. Prior to getting into this episode, we would really appreciate it if you would subscribe to our channel, if you have not done so already. If you’re on YouTube, hit that thumbs up, and hit that bell icon, so you get the latest episodes as soon as they’re out. Other than that, let’s get onto the episode. Welcome Andy to the IoT For All Podcast. Thanks for being here this week.
– [Andy] Thanks for having me, Ryan. Excited to be here.
– [Ryan] Yeah, it’s great to have you. Let’s kick this off by having you give a quick introduction about yourself and the company for our audience.
– [Andy] Yeah of course. My name is Andy Watson, and I’m a Director in our digital product practice, leading up our IoT group here at Rightpoint. I’ve got over a decade’s worth of experience in end-to-end solution delivery, across multiple technologies in industries, including smart home, retail, travel, robotics, home improvement, manufacturing, healthcare, sustainability, banking, and not-for-profits. At Rightpoint, we help our clients drive digital transformation by delivering engaging customer experiences across products and operations. Rightpoint is a global product and experience leader. Our team of experts help clients bring the right solutions to the right problems. Some of our standout IoT innovations include, creating a connected in-car experience, for Cadillac’s LYRIQ electric vehicle, developing a user-friendly controller, for Boston Dynamics’ Spot Robot, and designing a touchless water dispenser from Natural Choice that delivered increased hygiene during the COVID-19 pandemic. In short, with a human-centric approach, we help bring digital products to life here at Rightpoint.
– [Ryan] Fantastic. So I know we have a lot of things we wanted to cover kind of, in our conversation today. The first one is really around, the benefits of Matter and what those benefits are, that are being brought to the market. And I’d love if you could try and just kick us off, by just talking through that a little bit.
– Yeah, totally. So, you know, the TLDR Matter, Matter simplifies the smarts. Smarts in your smart home. Most of us are probably familiar with Matters four principles. So, it’s built on, we’ve got simplicity, let’s make it easy to purchase and use our products. Interoperability, let’s make our devices from different brands work with each other. Reliability, you know, it’s gotta be consistent. We have local connectivity, so if we lose internet, we’re still able to actually use our products. And then our fourth, is security. You know, let’s make this streamlined for developers and users to use. But, what we try to do is really break this down and what it means for the human, the user, the stakeholders involved in the smart home experience. You know, so from a consumer standpoint, Matters’ a game changer. Matter gives assurances that,
– [Ryan] Yeah.
– [Andy] You know, anything that’s Matter compliant, will simply work with one another. The setup process is gonna be standardized. Users will know what to expect, when they purchase a Matter compliant product, and how to quickly get that spooled up, and running within their house. It’s just not something we’ve had today from a consumer’s perspective. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is, when it takes longer than 60 seconds to set up a light bulb, a smart light bulb in your home.
– [Ryan] Right.
– [Andy] You know a lot of the things we do with our line of work is, you know, when you think about creating a digital experience for a smart home device, for instance, you’re really competing with, you know, some of the traditional ways of working with that device. A light switch, for instance, flicking on a light switch on and off. We’ve done it for, you know, over a hundred years. It’s simple, it’s easy, it’s something to do. We need to make sure that the digital experience, the digital equivalent of that is equally easy to use. And it just hasn’t been the case prior to Matter. I could go on and on about the benefits there, but, I almost akin it to, the early days of the railroad in the US.
– [Ryan] Okay.
– [Andy] So a lot of people don’t know this, but in the early days of the railroad here in the US, all the major railroad companies had used different gauges, and they had specific trains, that could only work on that gauge track. So for instance, a train in New York couldn’t use the same tracks, as a train in, you know, the Midwest or South.
– [Andy] So
– [Ryan] Right.
– [Andy] Trains couldn’t actually
– [Ryan] Okay.
– [Andy] traverse these different areas, right. And, you know, in order to kind of, break-fix this situation, they came up with things, that they would have like, a third rail, they’d add onto the train tracks to enable some trains to go onto that third rail that couldn’t go on those other two rails. They invented special cranes, that would literally pick up these trains, and move them onto a separate set of tracks, that they built next to the old set of tracks, that were in a different gauge. It was really a complete nightmare when it came to interoperability, right. And, that is where we’ve been with the smart home before Matter. Until we’ve kind of, standardized our railroad tracks, or gauges of railroad tracks, where trains can traverse the entire country on the same set of tracks. We’re seeing that now with Matter. That same analogy, right where we’ve got standardized protocols, standardized experience. So that whole necessary of having to be a technical genius, you know, or a computer engineer to kind of, get your products to work with one another, to set them up in your home, is no longer required.
– [Ryan] Right. No, I agree. When we’re talking about standardization, obviously there’s tons of benefits that are associated with that. What does that really mean for, when I’m thinking about the IoT sector as a whole, in the ability for these companies, to still differentiate their brands and product lines, given the fact that this is something that is, you know, focused around being a standard. something that makes interoperability much easier, you know, things like that. Like where, where’s that opportunity still for differentiating brands and product lines not kind of, all falling into the same bucket?
– [Andy] Yeah, totally. You know, there’s a couple things, right? So as Matter widely gets adopted, and to be honest, I don’t think it’s gonna be, something that’s gonna be widely adopted in the next couple of months. I think it’s gonna take a couple of years, based off of conversations we’ve had with many folks at CES this past year, and kind of, the trajectory of companies offering backwards compatibility, of some of their products and what their, you know, roadmap looks like for new products getting Matter compatibility. I think it’s gonna be a little bit of time. But over the coming years, as Matter does get widely adopted, You know, I do think it’ll bring some uncertainty about what it means for companies trying to maintain that digital relationship with their customers.
– [Ryan] Right.
– [Andy] You know, I think we’re gonna see a transformation within the industry, once Matter is fully adopted, of users taking, you know, taking a couple different paths. No longer are we gonna be required to have 16 different apps, for 16 different types of devices, or 16 different brands of the same device.
– [Ryan] Right, right, right, right.
– [Andy] You know, I think that, you’re starting to see that consolidation already, with some of the big ecosystem players, right? With Google Home, Apple HomeKit, your Samsung SmartThings, And you’re Amazon Alexa obviously. But, you know, there’s still a lot of nuances, that exist in the market, before Matter around. You know, whether this only works in Homekit, or whether this only works on Amazon Alexa, or works with Google versus, you know, is Google Home compatible.
– [Ryan] Yep.
– [Andy] And a lot of that goes away with Matter’s multi-admin feature, which is phenomenal for both developers and consumers. Be able to kind of, use those different ecosystems. In order to get that to work on those different ecosystems though. You know, there had to be some concessions made, about what sort of, you know, I’ll call it like, basic functionality, different device types, you know, we can offer in a Matter ecosystem. So for instance, I think about like smart lighting, right? Smart lighting, you know, from a Matter perspective, it’s gonna support, it supports, I should say supports today, scheduling, light brightness, and color control, but not necessarily things like light shows or sophisticated triggers, right? So we’ve kind of, had to distill down, some of the functionality of our smart devices, in order to have a common base, that our different branded same types of devices, can work with one another, right? I mean, not all devices would support things like smart or things like light shows, for instance. So anyways, getting to this point where we’ve kind of, distilled down basic functionality, is great. It simplifies the experience from a user’s perspective. It will be good for a lot of use cases, of a lot of users, right? But to your earlier point, this does open up an opportunity, to differentiate that experience. Device differentiation
– [Ryan] Yeah.
– [Andy] is gonna be really tough in a physical sense. It’s really gonna come down to differentiation through through a digital experience. We feel pretty strongly about that. You’re already kind of, seeing that right now, within kind of the commoditization, of smart home functionality, from a physical device perspective. So it’s only natural to take that digital course, but it’s gonna be even more forced down that pathway with Matter.
– [Ryan] So what challenges are then kind of, bring up for those branded digital experiences, that you’re kind of, talking about now?
– [Andy] Yeah, I mean, right. So, you know, more and more users, are gonna opt out of downloading, your branded apps. And with that, you know, more and more user data and that digital relationship, that you have with your users is gonna go away to some degree for a lot of these companies. You know, as they get kind of, immersed into their favorite ecosystem, they may not find a need to engage with a branded app experience any longer. So, you know, some of the challenges that we’re seeing within the marketplace is finding those ways to differentiate your experience and really entice users back into your own experience by providing value add features and functionality. I kind of, I make another analogy here, of what we’re seeing in, you know, what we’ve seen in the airline industry, right? So, Matter is like flying economy, you pretty much know what you’re going to expect when you fly economy. You know, whether that’s from, you know, flying an economy in Delta or American Airlines or any of the other players. You’ll have basic accommodations, you got baggage restrictions, but you’ll get to where you’re going. You know, airlines offer the ability to upgrade your experience through add-ons, you know, making your seating more comfortable, higher quality food, and so on and so forth. They also differentiate kinds of experiences you can have on that same flight by offering things like, you know, business class or first class options.
– [Ryan] Right.
– [Andy] And then, you know, finally they differentiate themselves, through stronger loyalty programming rewards. You know, and that analogy is exactly where I see the the smart home industry going with Matter. You know, Matter will bring that standardization, that basic experience, that’s gonna be okay for most users, but companies are gonna have to look at ways to offer, you know, that upgraded experience, for users that are seeking out a more immersive and more robust set of features and functionality.
– [Ryan] So tell me a little bit more about kind of, those opportunities that seem to exist for those brands that are thinking beyond the Matter standard.
– [Andy] Yeah, I mean, you know, I think right now a lot of the industry is really working towards, you know, accomplishing the Matter compliance. You know, whether that’s forwards and backwards compatibility with products that they have on their roadmap or products they’ve launched previously. I think there’s a really great opportunity for folks to be looking around the corner about what it’s gonna take to differentiate yourself in a post Matter world. I think a lot of that groundwork can be done today, as companies are rolling out this Matter compliance, throughout 2023 into 2024. I think we need to be thinking about those differentiation tactics now. And you know, we’ve got a couple of questions that we typically ask, right? You know, at a very, very high level, you know, figuring out, what are those enticement factors, that are gonna keep your users engaged with your branded experience. Now, I think there is, you know, there’s a fine line to walk here, right? And I think that fine line to walk here is, let’s not fool ourselves, right? I don’t think anybody enjoyed having to open up 16 different apps for, you know, every single type of branded smart home technology that they had in their home.
– [Ryan] Right, sure.
– [Andy] Right, that simply wasn’t working. And, you know, with Matter kind of, you know, some of the the forcing function of having users to do that, it’s gone, right? You know, I think the vast majority of users, are going to be playing in kind of, their favorite ecosystem space. Now, that’s not to say that there’s not a tremendous amount of opportunity for newcomers, for brands to become that favorited ecosystem. I think that’s a huge play there. But finding those key moments, those keys, those critical pieces of functionality, that would differentiate yourself, and help bring them into your branded experience, is gonna be paramount. And I know we’ve kind of, already covered this, right? But like, that’s the very first question to ask is, you know, what are the gaps in your current experience, that you might have today, that you need to fill, in order to help differentiate yourself. You know, what is your competition within your same space doing, offering from an experience perspective? Are there lessons learned from, you know, from areas that you may have gaps in, that your competition is doing better in, that you can learn from and help with future iterations? And then finally, you know, taking a look at what the experience is looking like, or is going to look like, with your products in a Matter world, and what gaps exist from, you know, the things, that you know your users want to do, and you know that your users want to be able to exploit, but you can’t with the basic functionalities of Matter. Right, so identifying kind of, what are those extra value add, those ancillary features, and functionalities and capabilities, will help you prioritize the impact it’ll have, and help you assess the complexities of implementing those features and capabilities within your own digital experience.
– [Ryan] Yeah.
– [Andy] To help you entice users back into your branded experience.
– [Ryan] Yeah, I think this all kind of, ties into the ability to really differentiate your products and kind of, like you said, grow your users and your customers. So that’s kind of, great advice for sure.
– [Andy] Yeah, and you know, another area that we see, you know, some opportunity around, is strategic partnerships. With Matter, we go back to kind of, that basic functionality out of box, that you can get within kind of, any ecosystem, right? But with the early stages, or the early days of Matter, which we’re currently in, there’s gonna be many smart home devices, that aren’t supported within the first versions. Take robot vacuums or security cameras, for instance. Those are some of the most
– [Ryan] Okay.
– [Andy] prevalent smart home products in our houses today, but they’re currently not supported by the production versions of Matter. You know, so as a creator of smart home products, you can ask yourself, are there strategic partnerships, that I can make across that aisle, with devices that, you know, aren’t currently within the Matter supported framework, and they’re not within kind of, our brand portfolio, but a partnership I can make, to assist in that interoperability, that doesn’t exist today with Matter to increase capabilities, that provide the value added features and functionalities, that your brand might not be able to provide, but can provide through collaboration with strategic partners. You know, take for instance, you know, a widget maker, a smart home lighting company, working with, offering a product that works with Matter, and six robot vacuum makers, right? So kind of, finding ways that you can differentiate yourself through those strategic partnerships, through the, you know, increase in interoperability, that you can layer on to Matter. As well as, you know, the co-marketing opportunities, that you can get from doing such a collaboration, would be would be hugely beneficial.
– [Ryan] Yeah, absolutely. Now this has all been great advice kind of, great conversation around how to think about it. ’cause a lot of the conversations I’ve had recently, have been, you know, the excitement around Matter and obviously there are benefits to what Matter’s bringing to the market. But there’s other ways to be thinking about it, and what it can do, what it can’t do, how brands and companies building those digital experiences should really be thinking about what the true opportunities that are gonna exist with Matter as a standard in the market, for sure. Last thing I wanted to ask you, before I let you go here is, so I guess, looking forward into the rest of 2023, and to next year and stuff. What should, where do you think the biggest opportunities lie for a lot of these companies that we’re talking about today?
– [Andy] I think there’s gonna be a huge first mover advantage for those that look in a post Matter world. You know, what is what are those differentiation factors, and acting upon those now. I think, you know, a large part of the space, is working towards that Matter compliance, and you know, kind of, figuring out, what makes the most sense for their business, and their brand in terms of backwards compatibility. But I think the ones that are forward focused, and forward looking, are definitely gonna excel. They’re gonna excel in a post Matter world. So I think that’s what I would say to that. And don’t get me wrong, Ryan, I’m bullish in Matter. I think Matter is a long awaited standard. I think we’ve all been, you know, bated breath here of actually getting it in our hands and, you know, interoperability is kind of, the last frontier for a lot of people getting into the smart home category itself. So we’re gonna see a huge, you know, I’m bullish. I think we’re gonna see a lot of new entrants into the smart home category, that we haven’t had before. It’s gonna open up a tremendous amount of opportunity, innovation for those that are thinking past Matter, post Matter.
– [Ryan] Yeah.
– [Andy] You know, again, what are those increased capabilities, and those value add services, that I can offer to my consumers, to get them back into that branded experience.
– [Ryan] Right. Right.
– [Andy] I don’t think, like I said, I don’t think that this is, we’re gonna see a world again, where we have sort of, you know, remember the name of that obscure robot vacuum that you might have bought on sale, at an Amazon discount or whatnot, to figure out how to configure it anymore. If you don’t want to. But I do see a world where Matter’s gonna enable users, to pick and choose which digital experiences, digitally branded experiences are worth having. And, you know, it’s up to us as product leaders, to figure out, you know, what it’s gonna take, to make it worth having from digital experience perspectives.
– [Ryan] Absolutely. Totally agree with you. I’m very excited about what’s happening in this space, for sure. For audience out there who wants to maybe, follow up to this conversation, learn more about what you have going on, over at the company or just kind of, stay in touch in any capacity what’s the best way they can do that?
– [Andy] Yeah, absolutely. You can visit our website rightpoint.com/iot to get a sense of our capabilities, and we also have links to several different point of views that we have, and some white papers around Matter specifically.
– [Ryan] Fantastic. Well, Andy, thank you so much for the time, man, really appreciate it. I think our audience are gonna get a ton of value outta this. So thanks for being here.
– [Andy] Thanks for having me. Appreciate it Ryan.