How our customers are driving growth of smart solutions and services that benefit their needs

Elvin  Nagamootoo

By Elvin Nagamootoo
Global head of product, Centrica Hive ltd

Reports show people adapt behaviour to use technology for peace of mind at home.

The findings released in the report by TechUK today echo insight from our customers and the noticeable increase in demand for smart home products and services.

This shift will become increasingly significant as people adapt their behaviour to start using technology that gives them more time with their loved ones and peace of mind at home.

As seen in our Hive Quality Time report, a survey of 2000 people across the UK, we spend as little as 26 hours a month together. For over 40% of us, technology helps us stay connected to our loved ones.

Our research shows that we spend hours getting ready for work or preparing food, while less than half the time we spend with family and friends is something we consider to be “quality” time. Our desire to connect with our loved ones has contributed to the increasing importance of instant messaging tools, social media and video calling. According to our research, women are 10% more likely to see a mental health benefit by connecting with family and friends via technology.

Today we are at a crossroads, where our traditional business of supplying energy products and services is being disrupted by digital technology and automation. We have embraced this and the opportunities it brings to our customers. Frankly, if we hadn’t, it would happen whether we're a part of it or not.

As a business we look at something our customers currently do and improve it with new ideas, software or AI from the great people across our business. Hive, for example, began as a direct response to customer needs five years ago. Listening to how our customers found the old control box difficult to manage is how our award-winning thermostat development began.

We see great potential in the growth of smart home technology, be it the opportunity to bring electric vehicle charging solutions to customers using blockchain or solutions for fixing data quality issues with AI. There are many new opportunities and we're constantly innovating.  

We’ve seen TechUK’s findings in action, as Hive customers become more interested in the smart home ecosystem.

The majority of Hive customers begin by purchasing Hive Active Heating, learning to trust and then love how the thermostat can be operated remotely. After this they added more services to their own home ecosystem.

Our Hive Quality Time report shows how significant an impact technology can have on our lives in a short time – as we become accustomed to it. We’ve seen that those over 55, who might be considered later adopters of technology are now the most likely to feel that technology is a large part of how they connect with family and friends.

As our product range has grown to include our Hive View cameras and Hive Link we are increasing the options available for people to tailor the way their homes work for them. Using voice activation, IFTTT (Actions) and Alexa and the Google Assistant can make using our technology even simpler and more accessible.

Accessibility is incredibly important to us as we have seen the impact that smart home technology can have on the quality of life of those being cared for at home by family or friends.

Smart home technology may be connected to the home, but data from TechUK and the Hive Quality Time report show that the customer benefits are felt well beyond that. Technology can help us lead the lives we want, spending not just more – but better – time with the people we love most.