The “digital millennium” will usher in…what?

This was the question at hand as Parks Associates’ 12th annual fall conference – Forum’99: Defining the Digital Millennium – convened at the Westin Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, California. This three-day conference (October 25-27) brought together 180 representatives from a variety of industries, including energy utilities, telecommunications, home management and controls, computing, Internet appliances, Internet service, and wiring to discuss the trends that will shape the ways in which consumers live in their homes. This conference packed much into 72 hours – product demonstrations, eye-opening keynote addresses, and yes, controversy.

DIY Home Automation at SmartHomeUSA
Along with nearly 200 attendees, Parks Associates was pleased to welcome 30 sponsors, including Home Toys. Platinum sponsors were Home Plug & Play™, Media Fusion Corp., and Microsoft Corp. Gold sponsors were Bell Atlantic Inc. and IBM Corp. Silver sponsors included Ambient Technologies Inc.; the Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA); the Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association (CEMA); CommScope Inc.; Domosys Corp.; Emerald Gateway International (EGI); EH Publishing; EPRICSG; Ericsson Inc.; FutureSmart™ Networks Inc.; Greyfox Systems Inc.; Home Toys; Honeywell Inc.; HomeRF; Intel Corp.; Intelogis Inc.; Liberate™ Technologies; Panja; Peracom Networks Inc.; RCS; Smart Corp.; Superior Essex; Wiring Americas’ Homes; and X10 (USA).

Forum’99 was co-located with the EIA Fall Conference and CEMA (now known as the Consumer Electronics Association, or CEA) Management Forum, and several joint activities took place during the week.

Monday, October 25

Forum’99 began with two concurrent workshops – presented by Parks Associates and The Training Department – covering the business and technical tracks of the home networking, home systems, and communications services industries. Parks Associates’ workshop – Making the Business Case: Today’s Consumer and the Digital Home – began the day with top-line findings from Networks @ Home, Parks Associates’ latest study on the emerging home networking market, presented by analysts Kurt Scherf and Brian Canny. Parks Associates’ home networking analysts provided an overview of the indicators – technical and consumer – that are pushing the early market for “connected homes.” Hongjun Li, director of research, followed with insight into broadband services, which is expected to serve as the catalyst for emerging home services and solutions. The luncheon keynote – held together with the EIA Fall Conference and the CEMA Management Forum – was provided by CNN congressional correspondent Bob Franken. Senior consultant Bernie Krentzin and Steven Triolet followed lunch with a session on the home security and home systems marketplaces. Parks Associates welcomed Hyeon Lee, general manager for residential networks at Lucent Technologies Inc., to present her business case for the deployment of residential networks by service providers. Parks’ workshop concluded with a presentation by president Tricia Parks on consumer trends and the early market for emerging services and solutions.

Concurrently, Grayson Evans of The Training Dept. led a day-long workshop on the technical issues of home networks.

Monday evening ended with dinner festivities that reflected the distinctly Middle Eastern theme, “Take Me to the Casbah,” which brought Forum’99, EIA Fall Conference, and CEMA Management Forum attendees together under the desert stars for an evening of networking.

Tuesday, October 26

Continental Breakfast and Registration: Sponsored by Microsoft Corp.

Session 1: Dr. Oren Harari, University of San Francisco professor and author of Leapfrogging the Competition: 5 Major Steps to Becoming a Market Leader, addressed all attendees on the shifting paradigms in global business. Dr. Harari’s overall theme was fairly straightforward, and he left everyone pondering one simple aphorism: “Today’s lunacy,” he stated, “is tomorrow’s conventional wisdom.” His words inspired nearly every speaker who followed afterward.

Session 2: Tricia Parks opened “Shifting Paradigms” by detailing Parks Associates’ forecasts for home systems and services in the next century. Home networks, riding coattails of broadband deployment, will penetrate 20 million US households in the first decade of the new millennium, she predicted. Parks was followed by John Barr, president of the Open Services Gateway Initiative (OSGi) and director of the Internet Architectures for Digital Experience, Personal Networking Group, Motorola. Li Doyle, director of marketing for Enron Energy Services and Mark Schmidt, program director for Networking Solutions, IBM Home Director, also spoke on how their companies are evolving in a dynamic marketplace.

Luncheon Keynote: Richard Marino, president of CNET Inc. provided the luncheon keynote address.

Session 3: Moderated by Hongjun Li, director of research at Parks Associates, “Getting Services To & Through the Home” featured Glenn Edens, vice president of broadband technology at AT&T; Russ Sivey, director of new services concepts at GTE Technologies Organization; Charlie Tritschler, vice president of marketing at Liberate Technologies; and Hyeon Lee, general manager for residential networking at Lucent Technologies. The panelists discussed opportunities for marrying broadband access to home networking in order to reach new consumer markets.

Session 4: “Diffusing Home Networks” featured presentations on the opportunities and challenges facing companies seeking to drive in-home networks toward the mass market. This session was moderated by Parks Associates’ in-home networks analyst Kurt Scherf. Featured panelists were Barry Bonder, product line manager for home networking operations at Intel; Greg Farmer, director of business and product development at Bell Atlantic Communication and Construction Services Inc.; P.S. Vishwanath, executive director of the CIC; Steve McConaughey, director of sales and marketing at Peracom Networks Inc.; and Karl Nordling, vice president of engineering at Ambient Technologies Inc. Although Naresh Baliga, vice president of sales and marketing for ShareWave Inc., was scheduled to appear, he was unavoidably detained by weather.

Networking Reception: The evening reception was sponsored by Home Plug & Play™.

Wednesday, October 27

Breakfast: Sponsored by CABA, the Wednesday breakfast provided the opportunity for attendees to hear about the Ottawa-based organization’s accomplishments over the past year. Since 1997, CABA and Parks Associates have co-hosted CONNECTIONS™, the first conference dedicated to home networks and residential gateways. CONNECTIONS 2000 will be held May 3-5, 2000, in San Diego, California. This conference will include both a technical and a business track and display space for more than 80 vendors.

Session 5: Laura Hankin, associate director for Yankelovich Partners addressed Forum’99 attendees in the Wednesday morning keynote – “Reaching and Marketing to a Changing Consumer.” Today’s consumer, she averred, is seeking fewer materialistic acquisitions and is instead trying to find a greater sense of fulfillment, including more family time, more control, and less stress. The key to marketing to consumers, she said, is to provide solutions to these quests.

Session 6: “Applications Galore for Integration and Convergence” brought together industry leaders from hardware developers and service providers targeting home systems. Bernie Krentzin, senior consultant for Parks Associates moderated this panel. Featured panelists were Les Baxter, director of residential connectivity solutions for Lucent Technologies; Hank Monaco, vice president of marketing for SecurityLink from Ameritech; Bill Rose, vice president of electrical engineering at Leviton Manufacturing Co.; and Rick Schuett, vice president of new business development for Lutron Electronics Co. Chris King, founder, president, and CEO of was unable to appear on this panel.

Session 7: This interactive discussion, moderated by Deby Hindus, a researcher at Interval Research, centered on “. Featured panelists included Laura Hankin (Yankelovich Partners); Bonnie Johnson (Interval Research); Christine Riley (Intel); Rick Schuett (Lutron); and Russ Straate (Honeywell).

Luncheon Keynote: Easily the most controversial and thought-provoking session of the entire conference, William “Luke” Stewart, vice president of technology and chief scientist for Media Fusion, discussed his Company’s vision of a broadband network over the power grid. Media Fusion’s patented technology, he stated, will deliver enormous content (including voice and video) at “the speed of light.” Stewart’s comments brought forth a flurry of questions and comments, and his address had attendees discussing the possibilities well after the end of the conference.

Session 8: “A Holistic Examination of the Home.” Not only is industry driving new applications for the home, but research institutions are also participating in defining the “digital millennium.” This panel featured Dr. Kenneth Wacks, a management and engineering consultant, who spoke about the MIT Home of the Future. Dr. Elizabeth Mynatt of Georgia Tech University, spoke on “Aware Home,” an experimental residence expected to test such applications as “smart floors” and “ubiquitous sensing.” These and other applications are expected to revolutionize the way in which persons with disabilities and the aged live more independently in the future.

Session 9: “Convergence: The Internet and Consumer Electronics.” Moderated by Parks Associates’ director of business development Steve Harvey, this session profiled players who will change the ways in which consumers use and access broadband and entertainment content. Panelists included David Armitage, president and CEO of Qubit Technology; Tom Hite, senior vice president and general manager of the Consumer Division at Panja; Adam Marsh, vice president of marketing for Coactive Networks; Joseph Mouhanna, product unit manager of Networking Architecture at Microsoft; and Steve Shannon, vice president of marketing for Replay Networks Inc.

Session 10: “The Channels, The Channels, The Channels.” Forum’99 wrapped up with a discussion on the shifting strategies facing companies when dealing with various distribution channels. Moderated by Tricia Parks, panelists included Steve Hayes, co-founder of Custom Electronics Inc. and president of CEDIA and Peter Lesser, president of X10 (USA) Inc.

In Conclusion…

In the 12 months that passed since Forum’98 (which was the first showcase for many of the new faces in home networking), much has been written or said about the marketplace for advanced solutions and services for the home. From the announcements that came from Forum’99, it is evident that the excitement is only just beginning to build. Technical advances are only one part of the key to unlocking the vast potential this market holds, however. The overreaching message proclaimed by most speakers – and attendees – is a better understanding of the needs and desires of the 21st century consumer. Parks Associates and CABA are looking forward to addressing both the technical and consumer issues when we see you again at CONNECTIONS 2000.

Kurt Scherf is an in-home network analyst for Parks Associates, a Dallas-based market research and consulting firm that studies emerging residential technologies and services. Parks Associates publishes reports and journals, hosts industry gatherings annually, and provides custom information for Fortune 500 technology-based companies. Mr. Scherf is the author of Networks in the Home: Emerging Technologies and Standards and Analysis and Forecasts. For more information on this report, call 1-800-727-5711 or e-mail . Mr. Scherf is available at 972-490-1113 or at .