Home energy management – a conversation with Ralph E. Abbott


There have been some bloody nosed retreats from the home energy management market by corporate giants such as Microsoft, Google and Cisco recently. To understand more about where they went wrong, whether the market is still worth pursing, and the path to widespread adoption of such technology, we sought the expert opinion of Ralph E. Abbott, founder of Plexus Research which is now part of the Global Smart Grid Services team at SAIC Energy, Environment & Infrastructure.

With the recent announcement from Cisco that they will be leaving the home energy management market coming not long after similar departures from Google and Microsoft, has the allure of this market significantly diminished?  

Abbott: Cisco, Google and Microsoft each suffer from naïve arrogance. They are accustomed to creating and “owning” segments of the markets they each serve. They enjoyed the initial hype storm, but they couldn’t see the explosive growth and profitable derivative opportunities they’d originally envisioned within their unrealistic time horizons… so they left the playing field.

Why do you think these products have not taken off? Are consumers simply uninterested in energy management, and what could change this attitude?

Abbott: Most consumers’ lives are already complicated. Apart from the “energy geeks” who enjoy wallowing in their own energy consumption data, most people seek ways to simplify, not complicate, their lives. The goal of home automation must be the three Cs: Enhance CONVENIENCE, Improve COMFORT and Reduce COST.  

The conversation continues at www.SmartEnergyInternational.com, where Ralph discusses his vision for the future, what mass adoption will mean for the grid and how commercial office blocks could be one of the main beneficiaries of building energy management.

Abbott will also be one of over 60 featured expert speakers at Smart Energy International, the leading event for future-focused utilities looking for strategic planning advice on smart grid adoption and smart energy technologies from EVs and automated buildings to storage and distributed generation.