Danielle Karr, architect & designer program manager and certified showroom program specialist at Control4, was recently awarded the Women in Consumer Technology (WiCT) Woman to Watch Award
Below, Karr discusses focusing on the user experience and working with the design-build community.
RESI: How did you get your start in the CT industry?
DANIELLE KARR: Utah has become a tech hub over the past decade, making it easy to find a career in tech if you live in the Salt Lake City area. While the tech industry does in a way choose who works in it, I’d say that the ability to work on products that really make a difference in people’s lives is what draws a lot of people in—including myself.
I first started in the CT industry at Vivint, where I served as a senior copywriter for a few years. That’s where I fell in love with the innovative spirit found in the CT industry, and I’ve stayed in it ever since. I’m now at Control4 and my focus is on marketing field programs—including interior designer and architect CT initiatives. Bridging the two industries together has been an important and challenging task for me. There are so many ways that designed technology can help people in the home, and a large part of my passion for CT comes from helping others understand how technology can assist people of all abilities in living better in their homes.
RESI: What is your goal at CES 2020?
DK: Soaking it all in! While I’ve written marketing materials for manufacturers at CES since 2015, this will be my first time attending. I also want to see what new technology is being showcased that Control4 can incorporate into its smart home OS to make the homeowner experiences even better.
RESI: What do you believe will dominate the tech conversation in 2020?
DK: If it’s anything like the conversations I’ve been hearing at CEDIA, it will be focused around how to make tech less gadget-y and more foundational in the home—how to build and design meaningful home technology that transforms smart devices into a true lifestyle experience.
More and more, I hear from the design-build community that they find themselves at a loss for how to elegantly meet the needs of the growing number of clients who want the latest technology incorporated into their remodel or new build project. I have been reaching out to designers with a simple message: you are not on your own with technology. There are many smart home professionals in the industry who would love the opportunity to help the designers that are seeking out education and guidance on how to incorporate smart home technologies. I see so many partnerships in the design-build and technology worlds where everyone is genuinely excited to work together; with their partnership transforming them into innovators within their respective industries.
I believe the conversation on how to theoretically and tactically bring together a team of talented and passionate home professionals is only going to grow. Building out a dynamic team from the technology and design-build industries is what will transform CT user experiences in ways that were never before possible.
RESI: What can the CT industry do to attract and retain the next generation of technology professionals?
DK: I think fostering a friendly, fun environment that focuses on the homeowner’s experience is a central theme for success. This upcoming generation of technology professionals understands the importance of user experience (because we are also users of technology!), and so we want to create products, features, and brand interactions that delight our customers—and that we can be proud of and recommend to our circles.
In my opinion, companies that focus on caring for both employees and end users—as well as understanding the importance of creating a passionate brand—will see the most all-around success in the future of this industry.
RESI: Where do you see your career heading from here?
DK: I plan on staying in CT for the long haul—it’s an industry where I feel I have the opportunity to make a positive difference in people’s lives. The beauty of consumer technology is that great technology genuinely helps improve the day-to-day experience of users, and I have the amazing job of helping bring that great technology to people it will truly benefit.
I always try to focus on keeping the customer experience central to all decisions being made, and that is where I see my career taking me: anywhere that I can be a part of creating a delightful brand story and experience for the user. Working with all the different teams—product, engineering, sales, marketing—to tell a meaningful smart home story is really rewarding.
RESI: Do you have a mentor in the industry? If so, please tell us a little about him/her and how he/she has inspired you?
DK: This industry is full of inspirational leaders who challenge the status quo and inspire the world to think differently about technology experiences. I am lucky to have had several great mentors throughout my career so far, but I would say my current manager, Brad Hintze, has played a big role in my development in the industry. He is the type of leader that listens to and works alongside his team and his guidance and support has definitely been key to my success today.
Having someone like him who encourages me to take charge and take chances while exploring how to bridge the current gap between the consumer technology and interior design industries has helped me to grow both personally and professionally in ways for which I’m very grateful. I also find a wealth of wisdom in the people I have the opportunity to meet and work with both inside and outside the industry. From interior designers to architects to journalists to business owners, there are amazing people all around with great advice on how to become the best version of myself—both professionally and personally.