RealTime IT News

P&G Goes Digital

Proctor & Gamble , one of the largest household products manufacturers in the world, is going to help shape digital home efforts when it takes a seat on the Internet Home Alliance's (IHA) board of directors Wednesday.

The maker of everything from diapers to toothpaste joins a board that is slowly expanding beyond the realm of technology and into the areas that drive consumer sales -- marketing and advertising.

Currently, the IHA board of directors is comprised of seven technology companies: HP, Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, Best Buy, Sears, Whirlpool and General Motors.

Orly Cocco, P&G future home lab director, said his company's involvement comes from wanting to improve the way it advertises its wares to consumers and how the digital home concept affects them.

"When there are changes to technology in the home, will that affect the way people purchase our products and how," he said. "There's a thirst for really understanding how to use a product and how it works, and you can't get that across in a 30-second commercial. So we're really interested in technologies that go right into the home."

Despite problems with interoperability, security and connectivity, the digital home premise -- connecting every device in the house to share data -- is seen by many companies as maturing and worth the investment.

The IHA, for example, has 31 companies under its belt ranging from tech firms like Microsoft and Cisco to appliance makers like Sunbeam Products and real estate investment trust Taubman Centers. The Digital Living Network Alliance, another digital home organization, has nearly 160 member companies and groups.

That support hasn't always been the case. Cocco said the IHA has been courting P&G for about a year, trying to get it into the organization. It wasn't until recently, however, that the company decided to dip its feet in the digital home waters.

P&G will serve a one-year term on the board of directors before deciding whether to stay onboard afterwards, though Cocco said he anticipates it will. Besides contributing resources for IHA surveys and white papers, P&G's biggest efforts on the board involve getting other non-tech companies into the fold, Cocco said.

"A mass merchandiser or club would be very interesting to have in there; we've got a CompUSA and Sears, but maybe a Target -- something along those lines," he said. "We need to get representation from something as basic as a furniture manufacturer because a lot of what comes into the home has to reside some place and I think they can bring something to the table, as well."