Honeywell Looks to Drive Security Channel Innovation With Substantial R&D Spend

Honeywell says it is committing large investments in R&D in order to bring hardware and software to market faster than it ever has previously in the security and smart home channels.

When Michael Flink, president of Honeywell Security and Fire, addressed a general session at the Honeywell Connect conference earlier this month, he made reference to a substantial investment in R&D.

The capital outlay, he told the audience of security dealers and integrators, would be used over the next 12 months to fuel a new expediency at the company to bring hardware and software to market on pace with Silicon Valley firms and other market disruptors.

The big R&D spend can be viewed as part of Honeywell’s efforts to redirect resources into creating consumer demand and driving innovation into the security and smart home channels. Of course, it is also in line with the conglomerate’s recent spinoff of its home technologies and ADI Global Distribution businesses into one publicly-traded company.

The reorganization will create a homes and global distribution company with 13,000 employees and $4.5 billion in annual sales, which represents more than 10% of Honeywell’s total revenues. (The commercial security and access control divisions, said to be an almost $6 billion business, will remain within Honeywell.)

The R&D spend will be vital in helping the newly spun company maintain a leadership role in the market, as it works to supply a large base of installing security contractors with innovative products to vie in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

“There is just a different type of investment profile required to have a consumer brand and be in front of consumers and promoting products,” Scott Harkins, vice president, IoT partner programs, Honeywell Connected Home, explained to me during a recent discussion about the R&D investment. “The speed of NPI [new product introductions] is a much different clock speed than it is in the industrial space.”

Harkins said software, especially, is becoming ever more central to meeting rising consumer demands and expectations for security and lifestyle-enhancing applications. This will be a keen focus in supporting the newly released Honeywell Smart Home Security System, which Harkins refers to as a “pro-enabled DIY” solution.

“When I say software I mean apps — onboard apps — so some of that investment goes toward app development and it allows us to continue to advance and improve and add features into our software base, our Cloud-based solution, so in this case Total Connect.”

The company just recently released new iOS and Android apps for the platform, which Harkins said have been well-rated by consumers. “When they like our app that means they like our channel. They like the dealer that sold it to them. We think that is an important rating.”

Among the new services and applications currently in the works are partitions. Here the company is working to give end customers the ability to arm and disarm different partitions of their residence and assign different users to different partitions.

The R&D spend will allow the company to continue investing “in the actual security piece” as well, Harkins said.

In the pipeline are major new investments in all-new global security platforms that Harkins explained will be a significant departure from the traditional security system. “It is one of our biggest investments — it has already started — but it is the biggest investment through 2018.”

The ultimate goal is to create that lasting consumer demand. To that end, Harkins outlined five essential keys to achieving such a thing. The whole of which has been Honeywell’s “credo since Day One,” he said. These five keys encompass helping dealers: lower acquisition costs; improve recurring monthly revenue (RMR); reduce attrition; sell more systems; and, manufacture products, sensors and other wares that can be easily integrated to increase the size of the sales.

“If we can hit those five things we think we have a good chance of winning with the dealer,” Harkins said. “And we think the dealer has a good chance of winning in the home.”

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About the Author


Although Bosch’s name is quite familiar to those in the security industry, his previous experience has been in daily newspaper journalism. Prior to joining SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION in 2006, he spent 15 years with the Los Angeles Times, where he performed a wide assortment of editorial responsibilities, including feature and metro department assignments as well as content producing for Bosch is a graduate of California State University, Fresno with a degree in Mass Communication & Journalism. In 2007, he successfully completed the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association’s National Training School coursework to become a Certified Level I Alarm Technician.

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