I recently sat down with Control4’s Susan Cashen to discuss the company’s acquisition of ihiji, a leading provider of remote management services for technical integrators servicing connected home customers.
Maureen Jenson: At first glance this looks like a successful blending of families?
Susan Cashen: You are spot on Maureen. Control 4 and ihiji believe that installers need reliable tools to remediate issues in the connected home. By combining two industry-leading network and device management solutions — BakPak from Control4 and Invision from ihiji — into one unified service platform, Control4 will provide thousands of professional integrators with powerful device monitoring and management capability to efficiently and proactively support their connected-home customers.
MJ: What will be one of the most compelling facets of this combining of technology?
SC: Over time, we will combine the two platforms. For today, what is different is that Control4 will be eliminating the recurring fees associated with ihiji’s Invision service, just as the company did with Pakedge’s BakPak cloud service post-acquisition. We want to limit any barriers to adoption.
MJ: That is very cool for the dealer/integrators!
SC: Yes, they can just buy the device and get the Invision service. The dealers then have the choice of charging their clients, if they wish to pursue an RMR model.
MJ: Control4 has relationships with over 11,000 third-party devices, how does ihiji fit in?
SC: ihiji has relationships with most of the major home-automation companies, as well as channel-friendly networking and power-management companies. Including: Araknis, Belkin, Brocade, Cisco, Crestron, Dell, Denon, D-Link, Integra, Luxul, Marantz, Netgear, Onkyo, Pakedge, Panamax, Russound, Savant, Sky, Sony, SurgeX, Synaccess, Yamaha, and others, and those integrations will continue to be central to the new unified management platform. The new solution will also deliver a comprehensive view of every home and customer to enable dealers to monitor, assess, remediate, and track performance concerns associated with their customers’ homes.
Software drivers written for these third-party providers enable dealers to tap into their clients’ networks and see not just the IP systems but all the connected devices as well.
Dealers can diagnose connectivity issues and fix many problems remotely. They can reboot individual devices or reset an entire network if necessary.
MJ: What kind of dealer support will Control4 be offering ongoing?
SC: Our global support team is now driving point on all in-bound support issues for ihiji. After the Packedge acquisition, we continued to up our game with new products and new dealer training programs for our dealers. That is only going to continue in the year ahead with ihiji.
MJ: What does the next year look like for dealer/integrators with the rollout?
SC: For now, Control4 will begin selling the previously named ihiji APP-750 network appliance under the new moniker Pakedge NX-1, priced at $650 MSRP. Later this year, Control4 will make the new integrated service platform available to all ihiji, Control4 and Pakedge dealers through a software update for supported devices, including ihiji’s APP-750, and any Pakedge router/gateway that supports BakPak (NX-1, NK-1, RK-1, WR-1.)
MJ: How are the two businesses locations being combined?
SC: ihiji product development will remain in Austin, working closely with our networking development group, which is concentrated in Huntington Beach, CA. All hardware and software quality control remains in Salt Lake City.
MJ: And finally Susan, what does this mean for your competition?
SC: Nothing is more important to us than our dealers. Our goal is to deliver the most comprehensive robust remote management platform in the CE Channel … bar none! This acquisition demonstrates our commitment to enable our dealers to keep their customers up and running and satisfied. It is pivotal for our dealer’s success!