Glenn Renner is the CEO of HomeSphere,, Lakewood, Colo., a digital marketplace connecting major building product manufacturers and local builders.

Digital Footprints

The vast majority of Americans walk around with enough processing power in their pockets to run a small city, not to mention the data they stream from the cloud. It’s hard to believe that less than 20 years ago none of this was possible. When Steve Jobs released the first iPhone in 2006, no one thought the little device would change every industry from music to banking. Yet, today, everything is digitized and connected.

So, if our entire music collection can be digitized and carried in our pocket, what is holding us back from digitizing information about our most prized asset—the home?

The short answer is “data collection,” and it is the foundation for all innovation in our industry. The key to success is digitizing the whole U.S. home inventory, home by home, product by product, from foundation to finish, inside and out, and throughout the home’s lifecycle. As a natural extension of our rebate-processing platform, our team has started this painstaking process, with the goal of becoming the central aggregator of home product data. Here’s why: Data helps us meet our potential. Smart homes have been the promise for nearly a decade. A thermostat or water sprinkler is a start, but to truly use the power of AI (artificial intelligence) to make our homes smart, builders, manufacturers, and homeowners need to understand how best to inventory and then integrate all products in a home. Data is the first step.

Data makes us all smarter. As more data is collected and awareness for its value grows, its analysis has the potential to foster innovation far beyond the traditional homebuilding vertical. A digitized and shared home inventory allows new ideas, trends, and customer feedback to spread quickly, benefiting the entire ecosystem.

Data benefits our customers—the homeowners. A digitized home inventory can be shared with a host of providers, instantly, just like a music playlist. On a small scale, products in a home can be shared with those hired to repair the products, including installation details, warranty information, and past service details. Once in the cloud, this information can be cross-referenced against recalls or known issues, similar to troubleshooting in personal computing.

Data writes history. A digital footprint of a home’s product inventory allows information to flow freely …

Data writes history. A digital footprint of a home’s product inventory allows information to flow freely to other service providers. Perhaps more important, the data is linked to the property, not the homeowner. As residents of the home change, the data provides a living (and detailed) history. All those involved throughout the home’s lifecycle will benefit.

Much has been written about smart homes. The concept usually means we’ve digitized the life of an individual living in a home, through devices such as cameras, thermostats, and home assistants. When each product in a home—not just the home itself—is logged and tracked as a long-term asset, then we will have truly achieved a smart home. We’ll also have a smarter industry, with the tools to operate and plan more strategically.