I recently spoke with Control4’s Brad Hintze, Sr. Director of Product Marketing, about CEDIA EXPO 2017, how the company is supporting three new brands and what integrators are saying.
Maureen Jenson: You certainly announced a lot at CEDIA from all three of your brands (Control4, Triad and Pakedge). Can you tell me a little bit about each announcement and why your dealers should be excited?
Brad Hintze: 2017 was our busiest CEDIA, with the most product announcements we’ve ever made at a single show. Having three brands now with Control4, Pakedge, and Triad has allowed us to bring major updates to the smart home, audio, and networking categories this year.
With the introduction of When >> Then, for the first time, we’ve added the ability for homeowners to create and edit smart home actions in their Control4 system. This feature is available on the new operating system, Control4 OS 2.10, and requires a 4Sight subscription license. When >> Then Automation is an easy-to-use interface that enables customers to make adjustments to the automation settings in their homes directly, personalizing their Control4 system at any time after the professional installation. For example, when a button is pressed, homeowners can edit the schedule of the porch light or change what music is played in any room of the house, have a push notification sent when the garage door is opened or a door is unlocked, or even have the lights adjust to sunrise/sunset.
We’re also excited to expand Triad with a new line that makes it easier for dealers to provide their customers high-resolution, multi-room audio. These new products include an 8-Zone Power Amplifier, AMS-24 and AMS-8 audio matrix switches, and a new single zone, wireless streaming amplifier called Triad One. And iHeartRadio, SiriusXM, and Spotify join our existing lineup that includes Deezer, Napster, Pandora, TIDAL, and TuneIn – all of which are included as standard with every new Control4 system.
From Pakedge, we introduced the WR-1, a wireless router bringing a new networking entry point for customers at $300. And, our new hybrid online and hands-on networking training called Pakedge Certified Network Administrator (PCNA), is now available to train installers to become professionals in setting up a strong, robust networking platform for any home.
We’re pleased to have already received phenomenal feedback from our dealers on all of our new products, services, and solutions. Across our three brands, Control4 has become an all-in-one solution for dealers to go to for networking, automation, and audio, plus compatibility with nearly 11,000 third-party products to suit any homeowner’s request.
MJ: How are you supporting dealers with the addition of the Pakedge and Triad brands? What kind of training and incentives do your dealers get across the three brands?
BH: When we acquired Triad and Pakedge, all existing Control4 dealers were given immediate access to the Pakedge and Triad brands through our online dealer portal. And, we’ve welcomed Triad and Pakedge dealers to Control4 by bringing them benefits that our existing Control4 dealers have, such as extensive training and online ordering through the portal. Our training initiatives are growing for each brand, including new Pakedge PCNA for our dealers to add new skills and the certification to their repertoire easily, without taking much time and expense. By bringing the training online with product combined, PCNA gives dealers the opportunity to train more technicians. We also have Smart Skills training modules in the dealer portal, which provide simple, 3-minute videos providing instruction on unique scenes, configurations, and specific tasks using Control4.
MJ: What has dealer response been like to you guys adding the ability for the homeowner to customize their system with When >> Then? Are they concerned or happy about it?
BH: Our dealers have been just as overwhelmingly excited as our homeowners with the new capability. When >> Then is meant to make it easier for both dealers and homeowners. The motive behind the feature was to reduce truck rolls and service calls for simple automation tweaks—such as to reprogram playlists, light schedules, security notifications, etc.
With When >> Then, customers can live with their new Control4 system and make adjustments over time, as they figure out exactly what they want their house to do for them. They have the ability to customize their system without changing the dealer’s programming in Composer Pro. Plus dealers are able to see the changes that their customers have made and can then edit or delete the customer’s own When >> Then actions if necessary, making it a win-win for both parties.
MJ: Since acquiring the Triad brand this spring, you have cranked out a lot of new products. What inspired you to develop the latest audio products? Was it in response to dealer demand or where you see the industry going?
BH: We’re constantly considering dealer feedback and market directions as we develop new products and take on new categories. Entertainment is a fundamental element of the smart home; we found that over 65 percent of Control4 homeowners enjoy multi-room audio. We want to contribute to homeowners’ experiences with our automation and audio products. When paired with Triad’s comprehensive range of speaker and audio products, we can bring high-resolution audio to every corner of the home. Installations come in different sizes, but everyone can enjoy this feature, whether it’s a 24-zone multi-room audio system or adding a single-room solution.
MJ: On the networking side, did you see a hole in the market that caused you to develop Pakedge WR-1 with BakPak Lite?
BH: As more devices are becoming connected in the home, we saw an opportunity in the market for high-performance and affordable networking in smaller homes. Using BakPak Lite wireless access points with cloud-based network management, combined with the new Pakedge WR-1 integrated network router, we are providing dealers with a solution for smaller homes and simple smart home installations. At an affordable $300 US MSRP, dealers can reach a new customer segment, and take on new homes easily with the benefits of being able to manage the networks remotely.
MJ: You just launched the Pakedge Certified Networking Administrator (PCNA) program. Have you received any feedback yet from integrators? What are the first impressions?
BH: The enthusiasm about the PCNA curriculum, training, and certification process has been astounding since day one of the launch announcement. In fact, uptake has been double our forecasts, which shows more about the understood need for networking competency than it does the curriculum’s quality.
Our dealers appreciate that the program gives them the foundation of network understanding, as well as the hands-on training with Pakedge products that is incredibly valuable in the field. General reception from trainees is that the course is extremely helpful and relevant, as well as entertaining. Anyone who expected it to be the snooze-fest typical of our industry has been pleasantly surprised. It is also a huge benefit that they are able to keep the equipment after they have passed the course, which allows them to continue to hone their networking skills past the training program. The PCNA exercises and tests are a fantastic foundation, but applied experience with the actual devices makes a huge difference in the ability to design, install, and configure medium-sized wired and wireless IP networks in homes.