Kitchen & Bath Design News

JUN 2019

Kitchen & Bath Design News is the industry's leading business, design and product resource for the kitchen and bath trade.

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While most design professionals appreciate the benefits of technology, the fast-paced growth of today's tech has led to some challenges, including worries about privacy, steep learning curves and obsolescence concerns. BY JANICE COSTA Techno Challenges or dealers and designers, incorporating technology into their business models can offer many benefits: more professional presentations, greater efficiency in design development, improved implementation of designs, greater ease in making design changes, improved record keeping and better communication with clients, subcontractors and other allied professionals. Likewise, incorporating technology into their clients' projects can offer a powerful 'wow factor,' enhance efficiency and time savings, provide increased profit opportunities, draw younger, tech-savvy clients and create the perception of being on the cutting edge. However, the fast-changing nature of today's tech – a big part of what makes it so exciting to many – is also one of its weaknesses, according to many designers. As Shelly Preziosi of Interiors by Shelly Preziosi in Boca Raton, FL sees it, "With the speed of which things change, today's technology is almost obsolete by the time you learn it or buy it." Bruce Albert of the Ramsey, NJ-based Alcraft Inc. agrees, worrying about the dangers of pairing big-investment projects that people tend to do infrequently with tech that changes practically at the speed of light. He explains, "From a consum- er standpoint, we are matching the longevity of a wood and metal cabinet and design product of 20-40+ years with an 'out the door obsolescence' one." This is especially important because, in many cases, de- signers are driving technology choices for their clients. Indeed, in a KBDN spot survey, nearly 41 percent of those polled said fewer than 10 percent of their clients were actively asking for technology in their projects, and another 22.7 percent said only 10-25 percent of their clients were requesting technology (see Graph 1). That means, for many design professionals, the job of introducing and recommending new technological additions to their clients' kitchen and bath projects falls on them – and if that technology becomes obsolete too quickly, clients' dis- appointment may be transferred to the design professional, rather than the tech itself. Additionally, support can be a concern – as one survey respondent pointed out, "A consumer's concern about new technology that I'd recommend is whether or not I would provide 24/7 support for it, and [whether I would be] helping them continually to stay informed and knowledgeable about it. Nope, not my job!" To address these concerns, some designers are partnering with technology specialists, while others are being more care- ful about what technology they recommend their clients invest in. They say they are also looking at ways technology can be integrated that would allow it to more easily be changed out as things evolve. PRIVACY CONCERNS While obsolescence is always a concern with technology, pri- vacy concerns are also increasingly in the spotlight (see related story, Page 22). Dealers and designers may worry about private information being sold, divulged or otherwise used without permission through companies that fail to adequately protect their info, while clients may worry about automated products "knowing" too much about them, collecting and sharing their personal info or being accessible to hackers who could con- ceivably use these smart products to break into their homes or access their personal or financial data. Indeed, a third of dealers and designers polled by KBDN noted that they were "very concerned" about privacy issues relating to technology, and another 23.8% said they were "somewhat concerned" about this (see Graph 2). Part of the problem, dealers and designers believe, is the large number of apps and platforms in use, which come from a wide variety of sources, some of which are more secure than others. Additionally, many of these don't connect well with each other, requiring still more parties to be involved in shar- ing their data, creating greater risk. As Paula Kennedy, owner of Timeless Kitchen Design in Seattle, WA says, "My clients are concerned about privacy, [but] mostly hoping everything will be integrated together through one source, not a dozen different apps on different platforms. Everything needs to work seamlessly on any of the three main home hubs – Alexa, Google Home or Apple. The appliance manufacturers need to make their apps and tech work on all three of the main platforms." F 1 PERCENT OF CLIENTS REQUESTING TECHNOLOGY IN THEIR PROJECTS More than 50% Less than 10% 10-25% 25-50% Source: KBDN Survey 2019 40.9% 18.2% 18.2% 22.7% 52 Kitchen & Bath Design News • June 2019 TECH TALK

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