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Internet Home Alliance Launches Two-Way Education

20 Dec, 2001 By: Hive News

Internet Home Alliance, a nonprofit association of high-tech companies, is launching a series of pilot programs to gain consumer insights and build awareness and understanding of the "Internet lifestyle."

"Companies in this market will not be successful developing products and services without as much end-user input and value chain collaboration as possible. We are leveraging the expertise of the Alliance members to create new technologies, products and services that solve the primary concerns consumers face both in and outside of the home,'' says Alliance president Tony Barra. "The pilot programs will help illustrate that an Internet lifestyle is a possibility and economically viable when companies work together with specific consumer needs in mind."

The intent is to provide Alliance members with the necessary information to bring new solutions to market with the functions and capabilities consumers want and have tested in everyday situations over extended periods of time.

The programs will leverage the strengths of the Alliance's 31 members, which include Best Buy, Panasonic (Matsushita, Electric Corp. of America), Sears, Roebuck and Co. and Sun Microsystems, and will be designed to illustrate how various technologies can work together to address consumer needs in personal and family communications, expanded education and learning environments, home security and management and home entertainment.

Pilot programs will last from three to six months. Each program will be structured to gain insight into consumer use and adoption of new technologies.

Primary Alliance members Cisco Systems, General Motors, Invensys, The New Power Co., Panasonic and Sears, Roebuck and Co. are teaming up with other member companies for the rollout.

"I have yet to see an industry alliance collaborate in such a systematic and dedicated manner to building a marketplace," said Navin Sabharwal, vice president of residential and networking technologies, Allied Business Intelligence. "The Internet Home Alliance pilot program is a first-of-its kind effort that deserves to be watched. We predict the global home networking market will reach $10.8 billion by 2006 and anticipate the Alliance's efforts will be a critical component of advancing the growth of this market."

To help ensure the success of each pilot, the Alliance has created an organic process that begins with a research initiative designed to identify the unmet needs of the customer. Members of the Alliance and its partners then work together to develop technological responses to unmet consumer needs.

Throughout the process, the Alliance contributes expertise in business design, research, marketing and deployment.

"What makes these programs so powerful is that they will not be developed in a vacuum. We'll have real consumers giving us feedback on everything from the quality of the solution to the quality of the installation to the likelihood to purchase,'" explained Bill Kenney, Alliance chairman and vice president of Emerging Home Solutions at Sears, Roebuck and Co. "Without this kind of honest customer feedback, we run the risk of repeating the common mistake of developing the wrong solution for the wrong customer need."

Kenney pointed out that a major objective of the pilot programs is to educate the mass market customer on the value of the Internet Lifestyle. To that end, the Alliance is showcasing a number of Alliance-sponsored products on "Bob Vila HomeAgain."

"The Alliance is working to anticipate and develop products that will deliver the same 'must have' value that cell phones and pagers provide," said Barra. "Our success depends on our ability to help the customer understand that the solutions we develop in our pilot programs can make life better. Our job is to get these solutions within the reach of the customer sooner rather than later."

Examples of potential areas the pilot programs will address include enhanced personal and family communication, expanded capabilities for student-faculty academic mentoring in college settings, digital audio and video for entertainment and learning, and improved home security.

"We are reinvigorating this industry by driving the creation of pilot programs that illustrate that an Internet lifestyle and the connectivity that goes with it is more than a pipe dream," Barra added. "It's a reality when the players work together."

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