Brand Focus on Control4 with Paul Williams
Paul Williams, Vice President of solutions for Control4, joined the company nearly 13 years ago when it was just in its infancy. Starting out as Control4’s Vice President of Operations in 2004, Williams is currently charged with heading up product management and R&D efforts for the brand’s lighting, HVAC, AV, security, and communications product lines and solutions.
Control4 has come a long way from a brand that focused on the MDU and hospitality markets, to a global home and commercial automation firm. How has the custom integration business changed since Control4’s entered the channel?
One slight correction—Control4 has been focused on the residential (including MDU) and light commercial markets from the very beginning. Later on, and still today, we focused some of our efforts on the hospitality markets. We have seen a huge change in the custom integration business. The big shift has been since we first entered the market, when home automation, more often than not, was only available to the very largest of homes with the largest of budgets, due to the cost and complexity of implementing the solutions that were available to the market. We now see smart home technology being widely adopted across a much broader swath of home sizes and homeowner budgets. We believe we helped facilitate a shift to smaller sized projects by offering more value-priced solutions while still being able to handle the very large projects in a more economical way.
What has been the biggest technology shift you’ve seen in the market and what has the impact been on Control4’s approach to research and development?
One of the largest shifts to occur is that electronics are connected to the home network and, quite likely, the cloud. The IoT world has exploded with more and more devices being added into homes and further expectation that our solutions can control those devices. When we started we did foresee a day where this was the case and now that is a reality. The best part is that since we had this vision, we built our solution to seamlessly integrate third-party products with a unified, simple and intuitive interface that allows these disparate devices to work in concert with each other. In our R&D efforts we take these developing technologies into account to ensure that our ecosystem can incorporate IoT devices that help strengthen and expand that ecosystem.
We see IoT as not only an important development, but also as a development that is moving consumers to smart home solutions.
Control4 recently acquired Pakedge, a software company focused on remote management of control systems. What is the significance of the acquisition? And how has Pakedge’s integration within the Control4 family been taking place?
The acquisition is very significant. The connected home requires a stable and secure network. Homeowners expect mobile devices, computers, and other electronic devices to connect reliably and at the highest possible data rates. Custom integrators have continually struggled to provide these networks to their customers, but that has not been easy as the network solutions on the market are typically either designed for commercial application or as generic solutions to fit many use cases. Pakedge had created products and solutions that were designed specifically for the custom integrator channel that are easy to install and give best-in-class performance. Our acquisition of Pakedge allows us to now provide and end-to-end, best-in-class connected home solution.
What should we expect to see from Pakedge now that it is part of the Control4 family?
Control4 will continue the already close integration we have enjoyed with Pakedge. Now, as a single company, we can dramatically improve the installation experience for our dealers starting with networking and moving right into the home automation experience. Dealers can also expect that the Bakpak solution Pakedge had developed will continue to be enhanced as a tool that allows dealers to not only monitor, receive notifications, and remotely manage a homeowner’s networking environment, but will also include remote monitoring and management of the Control4 automation environment.
CEDIA is on the horizon. How have you been using this global gathering to strength the Control4 brand?
CEDIA is a great event for us and we always look forward to spending time with our valued dealers and supporting this great channel. We use this global platform as an event where we can get a significant number of our dealers in one spot to show them exciting new products and solutions. We also use this event as a recruiting effort for bringing new dealers into the Control4 world.
What should integrators look out for on the Control4 stand?
We will have new solutions to show dealers and as we have in years past, we will have a group of our ecosystem partners there to show how their products and solutions integrate with Control4, further demonstrating how Control4 is the center of the connected home ecosystem.
We always have to talk about the smart home and IoT as this has become the future of custom integration. What role do you see Control4 playing in shaping standards for this anticipated technology and cultural shift?
Llanor Alleyne is the Editor of HiddenWires. You can find her on twitter: @Llanortech.
We see IoT as not only an important development, but also as a development that is moving consumers to smart home solutions. Our approach to standards has been this, “why pick just one?” We continue to look at the standards that are out there and the new ones that come out looking for their adoption by device manufacturers and their market acceptance. We believe we are the center of the connected home ecosystem, and as such, we embrace not only devices that help us round out the ecosystem, but also the standards that those devices utilize. So, while our adoption certainly does further those standards, we don’t see our role as the definer of those standards.