Episode 20: IoT Lessons: How Software Opened the Door to Smart Locks
With Jason Williams
President of August Home, Yale Real Living, and Smart Residential Global Accounts
Yale has been manufacturing locks since 1840. Put another way, they have hardware on lockdown.
Software, on the other hand, has been a relatively new addition to the company’s repertoire.
In this episode, Jason Williams, President of August Home, Yale Real Living, and Smart Residential Global Accounts, shares his thoughts on the journey his company has been on since they started manufacturing smart locks and the lessons they have learned along the way.
- The story and strategy behind acquiring August Home
- Lessons from learning the language of software
- The reasoning behind entering the smart lock space
- Advice for companies starting their IoT journey
This post is based on a podcast episode with Jason Williams, President of August Home, Yale Real Living, and Smart Residential Global Accounts. To hear more interviews like this one, subscribe to Over the Air wherever you listen to podcasts.
Acquiring August Home: How and Why
One of the marvels of IoT is that centuries-old contraptions can be made over as smart versions, connected, able to collect, communicate and represent data in different ways.
Yale’s hardware combined with August Home’s software is a match made in heaven.
As hardware specialists, Jason’s team at Yale were in uncharted territory in the software space. As a result, they chose to work with partners. When in doubt, find someone who isn’t — right?
At some point, though, that internal locus of control rears its head and there’s a spike in curiosity: ‘what if’ this and ‘but what about’ that…you know exactly what I’m talking about.
That’s when Yale invested focus and resources into software, quickly realizing that software is hard and it’s not enough to have two highly skilled people in a small dev shop (especially when it’s your mission to scale globally).
They needed to change course and find the right people for the long game.
The Turning Point
Enter August Home: an IoT startup straight out of Silicon Valley, with roughly 80-100 software engineers unleashing their full potential every day.
Yale acquired August Home in 2017 and has never looked back.
Lessons from Learning the Language of Software
As we’ve been saying, software is hard. Jason doesn’t hide the fact that Yale learned this the hard way — technically more than once. They first avoided it, tried to work around it, then tried to come up with a solution, and eventually realized that they needed the right level of expertise and capacity.
Integration with the Assa Abloy network, on a global scale, was the mountain over which Jason needed to sherpa all of his teams.
Learning is an ongoing process which is why Jason’s team constantly explores and achieves new milestones.
Why Enter the Smart Lock Space?
The ‘when’ matters just as much as the ‘why’ in this story. Assa Abloy took the decision to explore smart homes shortly after the recession hit hardest in 2008.
The smart home concept wasn’t new and this presented an advantage. Since more people were adopting smartphone technology in their day-to-day lives, it signaled society’s openness to innovative solutions.
What's In It for Everyone?
Smart locks revolutionize the way we function. The latest cars feature smart keys that can be shared via apps (sorry parents, it’s now harder to say no when your newly licensed teens want to use your wheels).
There are smart medicine cabinets and closets, and even door-to-door courier services benefit from smart locks that can only be opened by recipients. There are so many reasons to explore smart locks and corresponding use cases, and they all revolve around making life safer and more convenient for people.
Advice for Companies Starting Their IoT Journey
Jason’s advice is simple. We can all walk away from this episode with plenty of opportunities to apply it:
- Ensure that patience is a value within the leadership team.
- Be realistic with your expectations.
- Keep your ego in check.
- Approach goals with flexibility and be open to divergent pathways to the finish line.
- Know when to call it quits.
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