As someone who makes a living of talking about and designing connected products, I also try to eat my own dog food. I signed up to Hive last summer after working with British Gas on an event and with EDF for years. I know enough about how the energy sector to be curious. These things aren’t easy to push through, design or deploy.
It cost me £200 and after some teething problems, was very useful in the deepest darkest of winter. I could switch the heating on from the comfort of my bed or as I emerged from the underground and was 20 minutes away from home. Or switch it off remotely. I now almost never interact with my thermostat.
Fast forward to a few months ago and British Gas reached out about the free setup of a smart meter that would give me another display to show how much money I was spending. That seemed useful and I agreed. So they came in last week to set up the new meter and display except as I live on the second floor it turns out the display’s radio signal can’t reach into my home. So if I want to know how much I’m spending I need to put some batteries in and bring the display to the meter which is outside the house.
This doesn’t make any sense. I asked the engineer if they were getting the data, wasn’t there some kind of online dashboard I could interrogate with that same information? No.
Thankfully they had problems provisioning the hardware so had to book another appointment in 2 months to complete setup. I won’t be completing this setup because frankly, connected product solutions that don’t offer consumer value but only offer corporate value should absolutely never be implemented or allowed to be rolled out.
Ideally the engineer should have never even begun the work and simply said: “We can’t get your display to work, so we won’t set it up” and that would be made me feel like they care about their customer’s energy use and not just their data gathering activities.
An even more ideal situation would be for the smart meter to connect to the Hive app and show me the spending information there .
Implementing connected product solutions is as much about hardware and engineering problems as it is about corporate product development. Different groups have to learn to interact with each other much more seamlessly, only then can successful customer experiences be designed.