As someone who helps out around here, I have said myself that the marketing is a little over-ambitious at times so I can agree with you there. But I’ve also understood the problem with how to market such a device. AI has become a buzz word that everyone seemingly wants, but few understand. There’s this idea that AI is magical and just makes the seemingly unthinkable turn into reality. That’s the challenge that the marketing team faces.
Nothing is “too hard”. As a software developer myself I’ve always said, anything is possible with the right amount of money and time. Time is sometimes the key here. It’s the amount of data that’s needed to perform device recognition accurately. Think about how many blenders, toasters, air conditioners etc are in production from current, and going back many decades. It’s the job of computer algorithms to determine what’s what and without sufficient data, that’s not easy. In the case of duplicates, I get it… I hate duplicates myself and I have some especially for my heat pump. Initially it was recognized and I was happy with it, then it split it up for some unknown reason. I can’t answer definitively as to why. I can speculate, but that does no good here.
Being that I’ve been here for a short time, I have come to note that the team here really wants to do better, they want to crack an issue that plagues other mfgs of energy monitors and they want to do it in a way that is groundbreaking. I believe they are trying their best to make it better all the time.
I think that the team has seen the criticism about marketing, especially in the last couple months and I think that people like Justin have been receptive to this criticism. I welcome the input you offered, agree with some of it, and while I can’t speak on behalf of Sense, I think they welcome the feedback as well.
I’m also in agreement with the device detection over marketing.
I do believe Sense is starting to become more of a whole home power monitoring system and could really sell itself as such if they worked out some of the kinks. Improved the web platform giving it the same features as the mobile app and improved ‘labs’, made the voltage graph real time instead of 2x weekly updates, created push alerts for any issues such as dips, spikes, floating neutral and motor stalls. Probably some for solar as well.
Some simple things that in my mind would go a long way to improving the overall device and increase it’s marketability, with the bonus feature of device detection. For some of us smart plugs make up a big part if not the majority of ‘devices’ in Sense, if and when Sense start integrating more smart devices this will only become more common. By no means am I suggesting Sense focuses less on device detection, more so expanding the other aspects.
@dwbrook , I have had the opposite experience in the software world. Customers that call something easy because of they are only considering the simple use cases. I have been involved with 3 of my products (I was product marketing), where we did an “easy” customer enhancement, and then spent 2 years dealing with unintended side effects.
I’m probably little more sympathetic because one of those enhancements was related to common naming and categorization between multiple databases. My most frustrating experience was having a customer that wanted the easy enhancement get white hot about an downstream issue, that was directly caused by his request. What was worse is that the customer couldn’t articulate how to resolve the ensuing mismatch because all the alternative solutions broke something else for him, and he was unwilling to choose a least worse alternative. It turns out his own environment had conflicting constraints, that he wasn’t even aware of, where different 1:1 correlations were required. He eventually had to maintain two different data environments of the same thing, that were only loosely glued together. A couple years later we solved the general problem, but it took about 5 person years of effort to build an overall data integration manager that presented difference schemas given different end uses.
Thanks, Todd. I’m glad to know that the team is aware of the marketing issues. Here’s more feedback for you to push upstream…
Today on the Sense website I see, “See What’s Up. Know What’s On.® Get an unprecedented view into your home. See when the garage door opened, the TV turned on, or when the dryer finished its cycle. Save a trip downstairs!” And also, “Avoid Disaster. Knowing when certain devices turn on and off may save your home. Heavy rains? See if your sump pump is running! Forgot to turn off the oven? Sense can tell you.”
We all know that Sense can’t do those things. Not now. Not reliably. Not consistently. Not in every installation. Perhaps the marketing copywriters should be required to use Sense for 3 months before being allowed to write copy?
I hear you. And to be honest, our efforts were both to-spec with some few canned jobs. For the spec jobs we insisted on signed scope and specification documents before we’d even take a job. Our customer’s account manager (sales person) and our project engineer would develop those documents along with the customer, sometimes for no other reason than to ensure that the customer truly understood what they were asking us to deliver. If an issue ever did come up, we’d review it with the customer in light of the scope and specs and then quote a for-fee change order. (I can’t remember a time when a job “came back” because we failed in the performance-to-scope-and-spec-department.)
The canned jobs were different, and I suppose Sense can be considered a canned offering. For us, a canned job might have been a pre-programmed HMI to go “on top” of an AC drive (already existing or new) for control, data reporting, and trouble-shooting. Not much variation there, and certainly nowhere as near as complex as Sense. Less time and energy went into the canned jobs but if there ever was a time when one didn’t operate to spec we fixed it as if we were handling a for-fee change order.
And I’m good. No threatening to toss the product or bad reviews to follow. I now better understand where Sense stands and how I can best use it…for the time being. :~>
Appreciate your additional insights. My long winded response was specifically on the subject of the dual device entry. I do think that Sense was out over their skis on the marketing side when I bought about 4 years ago, but not intentionally. The product has evolved quite a bit since then, but not nearly as fast as I think they expected. But I have also seen them dial back and recalibrate the marketing, though it’s not possible to unsee the promotional stuff they did 4 years ago.
Hi @dwbrook - I appreciate the feedback here and have shared with our marketing team.
I can definitely understand the frustration, and would echo @kevin1 's point that we’ve dialed back marketing claims considerably since the product first launched.
I think on our end, the hardest part is that Sense has actually achieved a lot of the claims you’ve seen - we source all of these types of quotes from user testimonials (namely sensesaves.sense.com). The variation of results from home-to-home can be significant, which causes some of the frustrations you’ve mentioned. I can confidently say that Sense is consistently improving and we are continuously trying to make the product better for everyone.
Hi Justin: Thanks for checking in and confirming Sense’s commitment to improvement. And you are correct in that a few, high-praise, user testimonials do not a credible ad campaign make. Has Sense ever reached out to its existing customer base and solicited input? You may have, I just can’t recall ever seeing such an email.
In re-reading the blurbs on the website today something else occurred to me but I don’t want to blast it all over the metaverse. Is there a direct message component to the community forum?
We did an in-depth study following a test pilot and 8-9% savings was the average. You can see the full study here and there are additional references to it online you can find.
This is an actual quote from a user. I get that the savings might lean on the “higher end” of what the average is here, but anecdotally we get a very fair amount of folks that have made significant reductions to their electric bill. I’m working on finding a link to the original quote we cited from Amazon.
This is from an actual product review by PC Mag, which in general was pretty fair. You can find the whole review here or just by searching for “Sense PC Mag Review”.
I’ll share this with our marketing team @Beachcomber, but I personally don’t think anything here is egregiously overstating product capabilities. We cite quotes from actual users to ensure that we share real stories or quotes and we make sure to avoid anything that definitively says “we’ll detect X, Y, or Z” vs. some of our language earlier on.
Compared to the overall marketing landscape, I believe we’re rather reserved in the claims we make about Sense based on feedback we get from our users. Regardless, I appreciate you sharing and will surface with our team.
@Beachcomber, those aren’t Sense’s words. You might need to read the article to see how use of Sense might pay for itself. I was able to pay for a couple Senses with one year of savings from squeezing more usage into my lower cost TOU periods.
@Beachcomber, I think those number are stale (2017 which really means 2016). All the major CA utilities, PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E have transitioned pretty much all customers to TOU. I have a feeling other big utilities have either done the same or are going to.
I did a deep analysis of all the utility rates in the OpenEI database, in 2020 and there appeared to be a significant number of TOU rates. Plus the biggest 20% of the utilities cover probably 60% of the US households.
My tricks were beyond the obvious EV charging - One of the biggest was moving the dishwasher from running after dinner to running after breakfast. Another was catching errant floor heating, especially in our guest room.
Thanks for the more recent findings (2019). I still think that the market has moved and is ramping to TOU more quickly than you might expect. I think the plan is to have something like 7.5M households in California alone switched by 2022. I moved from one household on TOU and 4 on tiered billing to 5 on ToU in August 2021 - we own a 4 unit apartment building.
My friend who is with SCE and has NEM1.0 & SCE ToU-A-D for years is being forced to move to new billing schedule. He actually chose to go back to the Tiered system.
I understand that is not possible under NEM2.0 (and higher once it arrives)