According to Parks Associates, by year's end, 23.5 million U.S. homes will have broadband access and 11 million homes will have some form of PC-centric home network. Given those forecasts, and our own research, which shows that consumers have a strong desire and need for connected home solutions, we're bullish on market acceptance of connected home technologies.

HomeToys Interview

Kristine Stewart | Internet Home Alliance

HomeToys Interview
Kristine Stewart, President, Internet Home Alliance

According to Parks Associates, by year's end, 23.5 million U.S. homes will have broadband access and 11 million homes will have some form of PC-centric home network. Given those forecasts, and our own research, which shows that consumers have a strong desire and need for connected home solutions, we're bullish on market acceptance of connected home technologies.


Internet Home Alliance


1. Tell me about Internet Home Alliance. When was it founded? What is its mission? Who are its members? What is your role as president?

Internet Home Alliance is the nation's leading cross-industry network of companies advancing the home technology market. A non-profit organization, the Alliance was founded in October 2000 to help accelerate adoption of connected home products and services requiring a broadband or persistent connection to the Internet.

Members of Internet Home Alliance come from a variety of industries and include such leading companies as Best Buy, Cisco, General Motors, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Invensys, Microsoft, Panasonic (Matsushita Electric Corporation of America), SBC Communications, Sears, Sun Microsystems and Whirlpool. Internet Home Alliance's Web site address is www.internethomealliance.com.

Being president of the Alliance is a great job! In general, I provide leadership, guidance and focus to all Alliance programs and activities. I oversee the excellent team of folks we have working for the Alliance and run the Board meetings. We have a group of officers of the Alliance who help provide the strategic direction for the overall board.

2. What is the Alliance doing to advance the home technology market?

We're advancing the home technology market by accelerating the successful introduction and adoption of home technology products and services. We do this in four key ways.

First, our research initiatives - whether pilots, ecosystem projects or white papers, for example - provide our members with critical market data that helps them develop and introduce their home technology products and solutions more quickly, successfully and cost effectively.

Secondly, we're creating an industry taxonomy that is getting the market's key players on the same page, talking the same language and moving forward in the same direction, which are critical success factors in a nascent market.

Thirdly, collaboration is the key word. We're providing our members with opportunities to work with other companies from along the value chain in an accelerated time frame. In fact, many of our members have told us that, without the resources and support of the Alliance, it would have been impossible to develop and execute initiatives with other companies in a meaningful timeframe.

And, finally, we're continuing to educate the industry about the viability of the home technology market through our initiatives, which, in turn, help to prime the market and build significant market momentum.

3. What do you see as the three most important factors to accelerating the adoption of home technologies?

First, adoption of broadband to the home - this is still driven primarily by faster speed, but we are beginning to see some compelling services. Second is the adoption of some form of home network, which is happening with wireless network deployment. And, finally, the general recognition by more companies that they can't work in a vacuum to make this market take off - connected home solutions require a multitude of partnerships and a smooth distribution and support system to increase the likelihood for success.

We're making good progress on all three critical success factors, which indicates that the market has never been as well primed as it is now for consumers to begin adopting connected home technologies in a meaningful way.

4. Why should companies join the Alliance?

This is best summed up by the thoughts of two of our members: Jonathan Cluts from Microsoft and Danene Jaffe from Sunbeam.

"Over the years, Microsoft's mission has been to help people and businesses achieve their full potential," said Jonathan Cluts, director, consumer prototyping and strategy, Microsoft. "The Internet Home Alliance helps advance this realization through cross-industry collaboration, which ultimately helps consumers enjoy better experiences through enhanced Internet products and services. Through the powerful collaboration opportunities that exist within the Alliance, companies from across the connected home value chain are able to share knowledge and information to gain a competitive advantage in the market. This will surely open the door for more connected devices within the home."

According to Danene Jaffe, strategic development, Sunbeam, "Every company needs to know its strengths, differentiators and areas of challenge. In the case of Sunbeam, our world renowned brands are one of our biggest strengths and certainly a differentiator. However, having said that, we at Sunbeam know that there are areas where we need to collaborate with other companies in order to maximize our opportunities. The Alliance's collaborative approach allows all kinds of companies to leverage each other's strengths while still helping members attain their enterprise-based goals."

That, in nutshell, is why companies should join the Alliance. This market is about solutions, not stand-alone products. Therefore, companies along the value chain must collaborate with one another in order to create successful connected home solutions. Simply put, those companies that work together will have a competitive advantage over those that do not.

5. How do companies leverage their memberships in the Alliance to achieve their business objectives more quickly and successfully?

Internet Home Alliance provides companies with the cross-industry collaboration, research and real-world testing opportunities they need to gain a competitive advantage in the home technology market. There are three main ways members leverage their memberships in the Alliance to achieve their business objectives more quickly and successfully:

First, by participating in our pilot programs and ecosystem projects, our members learn how their products and services will work within the context of a real-world connected home solution and how their products and services can be improved to achieve maximum success in the market.

Secondly, our members gain insight and knowledge about market sweet spots and business models, for example, from our white papers, proprietary research and industry insight presentations.

And, finally, through the Alliance, our members form strategic relationships with one another more quickly than they otherwise might, which leads to a host of beneficial business opportunities.

6. What initiatives are on the horizon for the Alliance?

Our Mealtime pilot, which is testing a connected kitchen solution, is underway in Boston and will conclude in early 2004. Mealtime, which has already attracted a tremendous amount of positive media and analyst attention, involves members Whirlpool, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Icebox and Sears.

In addition, we are about to launch a host of research projects that will provide us and our members with key learnings in the areas of family communications, healthcare, teleworking and digital entertainment.

7. What do you feel is the timetable for acceptance and adoption by consumers of Internet-enabled home technologies?

According to Parks Associates, by year's end, 23.5 million U.S. homes will have broadband access and 11 million homes will have some form of PC-centric home network. Given those forecasts, and our own research, which shows that consumers have a strong desire and need for connected home solutions, we're bullish on market acceptance of connected home technologies.

8. Is the network and installation infrastructure in place now to allow the market to develop at a pace sufficient to keep up with expanding demand?

The technology network is in place to sustain increasing demand for current broadband applications, which are predominantly high-speed browsing, faster email and streaming audio applications.

However, to support the next wave of compelling applications, especially in the areas of entertainment and telecommuting, the network will need to expand in capabilities. In order to support video on demand, video conferencing and live audio, for example, the network will need to improve in terms of bandwidth and service level.

Having said that, it's important to note that the installation channel must grow and develop as the connected home market grows and develops. That is why the Alliance partnered with CompTIA last year to develop the HTI+ certification, a certification program designed to become the gold standard in the home technology integration area. By leveraging the cross-industry perspective of Alliance members, CompTIA and its cornerstone members were able to create a comprehensive certification program that will ensure that a qualified installation and support infrastructure is in place to support the market as it emerges.

9. Which home systems do you think will lead the way?

Career solutions are leading the way. The explosion of wireless LANs is changing the way people work, and the social trend to balance people's professional and personal lives and the emergence of mobile technology are shifting where and when people work.

Entertainment solutions are following closely. The dramatic increase in consumer awareness of digital media, such as MP3 audio and digital photography, has created a new demand for entertainment solutions. Bridging the PC and traditional entertainment devices, such as stereos and TVs so that music, video and photos can be shared, is the next system on the horizon.

In the home systems area, the ability to integrate the many home systems such as energy, security, lighting and appliances are several years away. Trials, like the one being conducted by IBM, another member company, at the Village in Tinker Creek, are prescient of the solutions that will be emerging.

Kristine Stewart is president of Internet Home Alliance. As president, Stewart provides leadership, guidance and focus to all Alliance programs and activities. As director of market development for Cisco's Worldwide Commercial Marketing organization, Kristine Stewart has ownership for all Strategic Alliances and Partner initiatives.

Stewart brings to the Alliance over 15 years of experience in the computer and communications industries. She has held senior-level positions with Adaptec, Western Digital, Standard Microsystems (SMC), Cardinal Technologies and Hitachi Data Systems. Her responsibilities have included business operations, research and development, and marketing, but she has focused most of her career on business and channel development.

Stewart holds a bachelor's degree in management from Pepperdine University. She also currently serves on the board of directors for the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) and the Continental Automated Building Association (CABA).


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