Though the nation’s housing market is slumping, the downturn has yet to reach companies specializing in home technology installation, integration and repair services. In fact, a new survey suggests that 2007 could be a second consecutive year of double-digit revenue growth for home technology integrators.
Home technology integrators anticipate seeing nearly 15 percent growth in their business in 2007, according to a CE Pro magazine readership survey published in January. That follows a year (2006) in which integrators said they experienced revenue growth of 35 percent. So while business may have slowed in the new home construction market, installations and retro-fits in existing homes are continuing in big numbers.
Business is further boosted by the proliferation of new options for the consumer, from flat-panel televisions and multi-room audio to integrated gaming applications and home networks.
Consumers are making big investments in home technology. According to the Consumer Electronics Association and the National Association of Home Builders Research Center, the average price for a home automation system was $6,700 in 2005 (the most current data available). Home theater installations averaged $6,200; lighting control, $6,100; and multi-room audio, $2,500.
The “smart home” or the “connected home” concept is no longer limited to the rich and famous. We’re seeing mass market acceptance and demand for advanced technologies in the home. The infrastructure is in place in the home to support integrated networks:
* 79 percent of homebuilders offer structured wiring
* 58 percent of all new home starts include structured wiring
* 69 percent of all U.S. homes have a computer, and 34 percent have more than one
* 57 percent of all U.S. homes have internet connectivity
But the explosion of digital entertainment options and home network tools brings with it a new level of complexity when it comes to the installation, use and maintenance of these high-tech toys. While many of these products are easy to install and use, bringing together disparate components and systems can still be a challenge for many consumers. This is especially true in multi-room networked entertainment configurations and when home control systems are involved. The typical consumer is not able to effectively integrate all of their home systems.
There is a demand â€“ and an opportunity â€“ for qualified individuals to provide product installation and integration, and on-going service and support. In fact, the top challenge faced by home technology integration firms is finding individuals with the right skills.
The worlds of consumer electronics and information technology (IT) are converging in the connected home of the 21st century. Technicians must have skills in both worlds to provide the product installation, integration, service, and support that consumers need to fully enjoy a connected home lifestyle.
Research indicates that the most frequently performed tasks by home technology integrators are computer networking (81 percent), LV structured wiring (58 percent), A/V fundamentals (51 percent), and telecommunications (49 percent).
In the connected home, the focus is turning to the personal computer as the controlling hub. The digital home market has adopted de facto standards already in use in the IT industry. For example, nearly every subsystem and electronic device in the home has (or soon will have) an IP address to enhance interoperability.
To address the need for skills in both IT and CE, the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) and the Consumer Electronic Association (CEA) are working together to develop a new professional certification for individuals in the home technology integration field.
CEA-CompTIA Digital Home Technology Integrator+ (CEA-CompTIA DHTI+) is a credential that covers all aspects of the connected home. The certification maps to specific job roles and skills in home technology integration, such as:
* System infrastructure and integration, including user interfaces and control processors; network setup and support; and internet access and protocol.
* Digital home entertainment and distribution, including digital rights management and IP; media center PCs and entertainment PCs.
* Digital home control of telecommunications, lighting, energy management, and security
CEA-CompTIA DHTI+ certification is targeted at home technology system installers and integrators who install, service and maintain digital home products. The certification is relevant to a variety of industries and job roles related to home technology, including technology integrators, security system technicians, cable, satellite, telecommunications, A-V installers, electricians, and network administrators. Individuals interested in the certification should have 18-24 months experience in the some area of home integration technology.
For more information on CEA-CompTIA DHTI+, visit http://certification.comptia.org/hti/dhti.aspx.
About the Author
John Venator is the president and chief executive officer of the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), the leading trade association representing the business interests of the global information technology (IT) industry. He is responsible for leading strategy, development and growth efforts for the association and its 20,000-plus member organizations around the world.