IBS (Intl. Builders Show) 2019 was a bevy of new announcements. Certainly, the new innovation solutions stole many of the headlines (think, devices that monitor and alert you to water leaks in your home) and for good reason. But some of the biggest technology announcements will be felt at homebuilding companies across North America.

For instance, last week, Hyphen Solutions announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire HomeFront Software and Zybertech Construction Software Services, which is expected to close this month.

Hyphen Solutions plans to integrate the solutions into its BuildPro and SupplyPro platforms. The objective is to allow suppliers to continue to use Hyphen’s cloud-based solution instead of multiple different technologies. Additionally, it will integrate directly with the builder.

This centers on one of the biggest trends at the show last week that came up in nearly every single discussion—whether it be software providers or smart-home tech companies. It is all about the user experience. When interacting with any technology platform, the interface needs to be easy to extract critical data.

Paul Wurth, vice president of sales, Buildertrend, explains the user experience is essential to success. In fact, he says that the biggest challenge isn’t necessarily sales of the technology, but rather onboarding and the user interface and user experience is a big part of that.

This message extends to smart homes as well. Brad Hintze, senior director, product marketing, Control4 explains that when it comes to the user experience in the home, people need a variety of interfaces so everyone in the home feels more comfortable. In this case, the home includes touchscreens, keypads, voice control through Alexa, remote control, and an app.

Taking it one step even further, Tim Bates, CMO and head of product, HomeSphere explains that the smart home is actually moving from novelty to a managed home—one where the home will then tell the homeowner when they need help. The catch? Alexa will need to know everything in the home—that data will need to be fed into the AI (artificial intelligence).

The big takeaway here is that anyone engaging with technology should look at the entire customer experience. In fact, Paul Cardis, founder and CEO, Avid Ratings, says going forward it will need to be an end-to-end customer experience. Today, we need that holistic customer experience.

In the end, IBS 2019 demonstrated that the Googles, Amazons, and Starbucks of the world have changed the way we interact with technology—even in the homebuilding market. And those that don’t recognize the world is changing might not be able to keep up. Still, don’t get swept up in all the hype that some technology has to offer. Rather, stay focused on the task at hand.

Trevor Schick, president of Katerra Materials with Katerra, perhaps sums it up best: “Innovation is to build a better product, but always focus on the time and the cost.” Those are words to live by in 2019. There will certainly be more to come in the months ahead.

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