Sean Miller is the President of PointCentral, the leading provider of smart properties to short and long term residential property managers and owners. Prior to PointCentral, Sean was global director of sales and business development for WeMo, Belkin’s International’s Connected Home/IoT division. Before WeMo, Sean held several positions with Generac, including leading the creation of a new IOT/M2M business unit called MobileLink that connected the company’s standby generators to customers, dealers and Generac corporation.
In this interview, Sean shares his insights on home automation, PropTech trends, the effects of the pandemic on property management, and more.
What is home automation and how does PointCentral fit into that equation?
We think terms like smart home/apartment or home automation apply to what the individual living in the housing unit, whether renter or owner, experiences.
We use terms like smart properties or property automation to define a platform that not only provides the individual housing unit experience demanded, but also provides the workflows, integrations, data security and reliable communication that enterprise property managers and asset owners need to use ‘home automation’ at scale.
How is PointCentral utilizing technology to change the game for single-family, multi-family, and commercial property managers and executives?
We focus on creating value in three buckets:
- Resident amenity – in demand amenity that saves residents money and provides added convenience and security, shortens vacancies and lowers turnover
- Operational efficiency – keyless curb to couch access saves time on workorders, unattended showings makes it more efficient to show vacant units in a safe and convenient manner, energy savings in vacant units
- Asset protection – detecting water leaks early, ensuring HVAC units aren’t getting overworked and don’t need maintenance, precenting units from getting too cold/hot
How has COVID impacted your business and your overall direction, from a technology stand-point?
Accelerated conversations around how tech can help buildings operate in new reality, such as keyless curb to couch access providing safe contactless experience for workorders and unattended showings or HVAC analytics helping maintenance team stay ahead of needs.
What do you feel is the biggest trend in IoT, related to PropTech, we will see in 2021?
Data security and privacy – a lot of startups in the space are not taking the best care of this data and/or not being transparent with how they monetize the data.
Owners, operators and residents are quickly becoming aware of this, and are forcing conversations that align all interests.
I think this trend, in parallel with general VC forces, will change the ‘grow at all costs’ mentality that drove a lot of startup decisions in the previous decade.
Which technology are you most excited about right now and why?
AI…sounds like common hype, but when I look at what we are working on across HVAC, water, access, video, etc. I am really excited about how we can analyze data across a complete property or community.
I also think that companies need scale, both in the amount of data they can see and in the resources they can deploy against that data, to do AI right, and I think Alarm.com (our parent company) has those resources.
What is one thing that every property management executive should know, but doesn’t?
IoT tech, at least at the hardware level, doesn’t go out of date as quickly as many assume looking at retail cycles.
Much of the innovation happens in the software in the cloud or the edge, so waiting for a piece of hardware to get a few dollars cheaper is counterproductive as competitors start working with these tools now and build them into the organizations.
What is the next big thing Point Central is working on right now?
Using AI to help shift maintenance from reactive to proactive. HVAC analytics is a good example of how we are using AI to shift maintenance from reactive to proactive – we have been refining this algorithm since its launch 2 years ago, and we know help PMs identify systems that have a critical failure brewing, allowing them to fix it earlier (less money in repair costs and no negative impact to resident).