Swedish retailer IKEA is formalising its smart home tech division, following involvement in the idea since 2012. Now the company says it will “invest significantly” in a new business unit to fast-forward the development of the technology and helping to push it into the mainstream.

IKEA has announced that it will “invest heavily” in the new technology through the creation of a new business unit, IKEA Home Smart, which will be responsible for the smart home business end to end.

“We have decided to invest significantly in Home Smart across IKEA to fast-forward the development. This is the biggest New Business we are establishing since the introduction of Children’s IKEA,” says Peter van der Poel, Manager IKEA Range & Supply.

Currently part of a joint business unit of Lighting & Home Smart, the new division will spin out to form an 11th.

Beginning in 2012, IKEA’s smart range would not fully emerge until 2015 and the introduction of wireless charging tables and lamps. Since then, the company has started to work on its own smart lighting and will soon add smart blinds to its range. The company recently partnered with the speaker company Sonos to release an extremely competitive speaker range, called Symfonisk.

Placing Home Smart on the same footing as its Kitchen & Dining or Children’s IKEA division indicates the importance IKEA is assigning to tech as a new and lucrative revenue stream.

Key to this is the revamp of its Home Smart app, which until recently carried the name Tradfri – after its range of connected bulbs – and has now shifted focus to becoming a hub for smart home hardware from a variety of different manufacturers. Thinking about the software layer, especially for a company with the global reach and trust of IKEA, is a canny move. Partnerships with other tech firms will help to raise the unit’s profile, and that of IKEA as a leader in this space as yet untarnished with the big tech brush. 

US-based research company International Data Corporation predicts that global IoT spend will reach $745bn in 2019, up 15.4% on the $646bn invested in the technology in 2018.

As a WARC Best Practice on the Internet of Things notes, however, many customers are still baffled by smart technology, despite market growth. Much of the task, then, will be simplifying the experience to make it useful.  

“By working together with all other departments within IKEA, the business unit of IKEA Home smart will drive the digital transformation of the IKEA range, improving and transforming existing businesses and developing new businesses to bring more diverse smart products to the many people,” says Björn Block, Head of the new IKEA Home smart Business Unit at IKEA of Sweden. “We are just getting started”.

Sourced from IKEA, TechCrunch, IDC, WARC