Anyone can afford to have automated homes: CP Singh, SMART Automation [Interview]

By Abhinav Lal | Published 26 Aug 2013 17:51 IST
Anyone can afford to have automated homes: CP Singh, SMART Automation [Interview]
  • To gauge the trend of automation and its adoption, we spoke with C.P. Singh, Founder and Chief Mentor of SMART Automation, one of the leading names in the field in the country.

The trend of automation, with the aim of convenience, power-management, safety and security, is rapidly making inroads into the commercial, hospitality and residential space in India. To gauge the trend and its adoption, we spoke with C.P. Singh (read a full profile at the end of the interview), Founder and Chief Mentor of SMART Automation, one of the leading names in the field in the country.

SMART Automation provides end-to-end suite of cost effective home automation solutions including automation for commercial and hospitality space, which allows users to monitor and control system features remotely from anywhere in the world. It strives to simplify their lives with best of technology and has resorted to completely safe, green and environment-friendly practices that can be conveniently implemented in both old and new buildings.

SMART Automation, which espouses a unique concept in India, occupies a niche market in the country. How do you plan to educate users about your products and their importance, and differentiate your products from similar ones already in the market?

It is true SMART Automation offers a unique concept and we occupy a niche market in the country. So, it becomes very important to educate users about automation products. We are educating the various channels - which include interior designers, architects as well as several contractors which work in the construction domain. We are in process of setting up our Experience Centre in every major city in India.

We are also doing extensive marketing in all the segments as much as possible to ensure that people get to know more about automation and the know how of automation products. SMART Automation is a solution-based company. We work with various different brands like Samsung, Panasonic, L&T, Control4 etc and we try to offer the best possible customized solutions what our customer desires and aims for. We are a one-stop solution for all the renowned brands in the country.

Just how simple are your products to install and use? After installation, can customers control all aspects of the solutions themselves? What support systems and training is provided to customers?

Automation products can only be installed by trained technicians/engineers. It involves electrical as well as IT skill set. Though customers can control their homes entirely after automation installation is complete and can also modify the way it works on their own, we do not recommend them to change the wiring/connections etc., on their own.

In this niche space of automation, efficient power management, and security solutions, are there a sizeable number of competitors in India? Are you having to build infrastructure and develop logistics to deploy in the country, or are partners already present that you are tying up with?

There are few competitors in the market primarily belonging to electrical background but to manage and implement good home automation you need to have mix of electrical, IT and AV skill sets.

We are in the process of recruiting partners in various major cities. We already have a logistics support from our sister concerns to shift the products to any part of India.

For safety and security solution deployments, how does SMART Automation co-ordinate with the relevant Indian authorities, like police and fire officials, to assist the consumer in their time of need?

So, SMART Group has launched a new business for managed security solutions, which allows security devices to send alerts to central NOC (network operation centre) from where we integrate into police, fire and ambulance services. We are integrating our technologies into relevant agencies so that they can reduce their response time.
We have also launched mobile-based app under SMART24x7 (part of SMART Group) which will help citizens of India to get the services of police/fire/ambulance while they are in the transit also. This is the first time such a service has been launched in India.

Is there any trend of insurance companies reducing commercial and home insurance premiums because of automation and security solutions being in place? Have you tied up with any of them?

We do not have such information but we will be educating the insurance companies of various offerings that we are going to provide which will help them to mitigate the risk of movable as well as immovable property and will be able to pass on the benefits of reduced risk to the end consumers in the form of lesser premiums.

India is a very price-sensitive market, with varied needs for homes, small business and large-scale commercial ventures. How do you plan to tap all these segments, with their disparate budgets and requirements? What price range do your products/solutions start from, in each of these cases?

Yes, India is a very price-sensitive market. However, we have different solutions for different target audiences. A typical home automation can range from Rs. 7,000 to few lakhs per room, depending upon the different categories. Home automation has for long been the domain of the ultra-rich class.

But, now we are at a stage where anyone can afford to have automated homes, customized according to their needs and budgets. So, people going for home automation can get their smart homes designed & customized according to their needs. The cost for home automation can simply be slashed down by choosing and customizing the features you wish to have. So, depending upon your needs this cost can go up and can extend up to crores while taking into account your requirements.

Your range of automation, power management and security solutions utilize a wide range of imported components, such as the various peripherals and sensors. Are you facing difficulties procuring these in the country – are there any bureaucratic or trade bottlenecks involved that you are hoping to be streamlined in the future? Are there domestic producers who can address the need?

Yes, substantial part of our offering is imported components. Getting the product imported to the end consumer sometimes becomes a challenge as keeping stocks of these items carries a lot of risk of price drop. Brands like L&T, Samsung, Schneider, and Panasonic keep inventory with them thus making it easy for companies like us to procure products. Indian manufacturers like Alba, Zicom, and Securico manufacture the products in India, and hence do not have inventory issues.

On-the-go automation and security is clearly one of the biggest incentives for home users and small-business proprietors. Please detail how you address this need, from the apps to the networking involved.

Today, demand for automated homes is rising, with customers motivated to buy home automation due to changing lifestyles, nuclear families, exposure to western lifestyles, and the most important, concerns about safety and security. We offer similar such solutions where you can manage and control your entire home remotely.

One of our group companies, SMART24x7 aims to offer advanced technologies to the society. This is a unique approach towards strengthening existing protection. Today smartphones are more than devices you can use to communicate, listen to music, and surf the internet. Hence, they are capable of aiding safety for you as well as your homes. To bring this unique level of safety and security in your routine life, SMART24×7 app works with an integrated and highly efficient system. SMART24x7 is based on SAAS based model and here we are offering managed security solutions where we can monitor and manage the alerts also even if you are away.

We have also designed the unique safety mobile application, called Mobile Panic Button, which will walk along with you as inherent part of your life. The special feature about this Android safety app is that it helps you to connect with your reliable contacts automatically whenever you find yourself in trouble or need to find help for someone around you. The app has a panic button, which does the major task of auto-communicator for you during the moments of distress. This app gives you freedom to save five major contact numbers in this app, to which you want to inform about your troubling situations. The reliable contacts should be added there and our app will make sure that a notification message reaches them, whenever you need them to know that you are in trouble.

C.P. Singh, Founder and Chief Mentor of SMART Automation

C.P Singh Profile:
C.P. Singh, who holds a bachelors degree in Computer Science, and a postgraduate degree in Advanced Hardware, he has 15 years of rich experience behind him. C.P. Singh is managing Internet technology projects for some of the world’s leading brands such as General Electric, Sony, LG, and more. Few of his successful projects include developing technology for Makemytrip (India’s largest travel portal), developing e-commerce platform for Lgezbuy (India’s largest e-commerce site) and implementing India’s first rich media initiatives on major Indian portals.

C.P. Singh is also the CTO of SITG (Smile Interactive Technology Group), one of the largest digital services and technology groups in the country. Growing and increasing entrepreneurship for the digital industry in India, inviting entrepreneurs and professionals to chase their dream projects by incubating them with experience, technology infrastructure, seed fund and management out of a world class facility in Gurgaon, and more are part of SITG activities. C.P. Singh’s position here involves him with the role of focusing on product management and mentoring technology for start-ups. He is involved in identifying innovative ways to improve operation productivity through new technologies, systems, methods and controls. The list of his roles and responsibilities and success achieved thereby goes on.

Translating the corporate vision and strategy of Smart Automation Technologies into policies, mentoring the working of core business processes are few of his responsibilities at SMART.

Abhinav Lal

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