In December of 2016, NextMarket Insights and The Spoon surveyed a group of smart home industry insiders to ask their opinion about what they thought about the year that was and what they expected in the coming year for the connected home.

Here’s what we found:

Alexa and voice interfaces were the clear winner in 2016.  7 out of 10 respondents said that virtual assistants and voice control were the story of 2016.

While many expect voice and virtual assistants to be important this year, things are not as clear cut. Many believe the defining story of 2017 in smart home will be the growing need for more robust solutions for privacy and security, likely a direct result of the wake up call that was Mirai botnet attack last fall.  Others see machine learning and artificial intelligence as a candidate for the defining trend of 2017, while a smaller number see mesh Wi-Fi and robotics as important but having a lesser impact.

Many saw 2016 as a disappointing year overall in the smart home, with nearly half (49%) feeling the smart home market didn’t meet expectations last year.  Their outlook for 2017 is a more optimistic – if tempered – one. About 39% see the smart home as having a ”great” year this year, while 54% see the market as performing “Ok”, where it will continue to serve mainly early adopters.

When asked what they saw as the biggest hurdle to the adoption of the smart home, the number one choice by our panel of experts was consumer confusion over technologies and products to choose. Other hurdles to broader adoption included lack of a compelling need for consumers to buy smart home products and too much fragmentation in the smart home market.

These concerns about smart home fed our respondents’ wishes for the future of the smart home when we asked them the one overarching goal they’d like to achieve in the smart home in 2017. Tied for the top response was greater consumer understanding about the value of smart home and reduced fragmentation.

Overall, this survey of smart home experts shows an industry at an inflection point, one that has learned some hard lessons about product value and approachability, the need to industry cohesion and standardization and is starting to coalesce around innovative and disruptive new approaches taken by industry leaders such as Amazon and Google.

You can view the report below: