The Savant Experience
The commercial strategy of one major manufacturer focuses on growth for its dealersJanuary 2011 By Nancy Klosek
CustomRetailer: Your New York City-based Savant Commercial Experience Center has been open a little more than six months. Talk about how dealers have been using the space.
Craig Spinner: It's used by commercial dealers, specifiers and end-users. Of course, since we're well established as a brand presence in the residential market, the Residential Experience Center, which adjoins the Commercial Center and has been open just over a year, has been mostly used when dealers bring their clients through, and when we do architect events.
On the commercial side, a lot of end-user corporations have found Savant by seeing our name out there as the only Apple-based control system; finding us online; or a business owner may own a Savant system in his home or may have been in another home that has one. Once they learn firsthand about us, they're very interested in Savant systems for their own corporations.
We're working on our channel strategy for the commercial side now, but we've passed along leads to some of our commercial dealers. So you're seeing them and specifiers come in as well. There are lots of different players that impact a commercial job: property managers, specifiers, integrators and the IT department of the building or the corporation you're working with.
Since the Commercial Center is relatively new, we usually start talking to visitors by describing who Savant is and what our value proposition is to the commercial markets. If it's a university coming in, we'll show them our classroom, and how we can give educators easy tools to manage technology in their classrooms. We're finding that universities are investing a lot of resources in "smart classroom" environments that involve improving teachers' interactions with students—for example, with things like podcasting, where you can, right after a lecture, create a podcast that can be loaded and accessed right after the session is over.
We joke when talking to educators that, a lot of times today, students have more technology in their pockets than the classroom is equipped with! We're showing them some very cost-effective user interface possibilities with the iPad and the iPhone, where they can manage the classroom in a very easy-to-use, familiar—that's they key word – "familiar"—way.
We're having tons of success on the residential side with the iPad, as we've gotten away from our proprietary touch-panel business and moved in that direction for our main user interface. It's amazing to see how comfortable people are with this device, and how it has taught them how to use a touch screen.