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Value vs trust – the IoT paradox

Mar 2018 General, Smart Homes | Comments Off on Value vs trust – the IoT paradox
Value vs trust – the IoT paradox
 

Consumers place great value in their connected devices but are concerned about how their data is being used. Sanjay Khatri, head of IoT platform product marketing at Cisco IoT, examines the issues

From intelligent lighting systems to home security and heating that can be controlled remotely from a mobile device, most of us are familiar with the concept of the smart home and some of us will be lucky enough to already enjoy the convenience and efficiency smart home products and apps provide.

As the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow, many connected devices will be in our homes as product developers and manufacturers, as well as IoT service providers, look to capitalise on how these connected devices can make our lives easier, more comfortable and convenient.

Service says it all

Business analyst firm Gartner estimates there will be 20.4 billion connected things by 2020. This is huge growth, but although the number of connected devices is important for critical mass and fostering the development of IoT solutions, sheer numbers will not determine IoT’s long-term success in or out of the smart home.

IoT can only be successful when the services it delivers are perceived as valuable to users. The ultimate test being, if a connected device can enable a convenience that a user cannot do without.

But before connected devices become widely accepted by users in a smart home, IoT industry leaders need to alleviate any concerns about potential data control issues, otherwise user confidence will be compromised and the promise of the connected world, and smart home, will be left unfulfilled.

The IoT value/trust paradox

Consumer perception of the value of IoT has been explored in a recent study by Cisco. This looked at how the value in all types of connected services, including those provided through devices in a smart home, is driven by data collection and exchange, and the role played by trust in consumers’ willingness to share that data.

The results of the survey revealed consumers have a high awareness of IoT in the world around them, including connected personal devices within a smart home, which is great news for the industry. Sixty-three per cent of respondents identified home security systems along with wearable fitness devices, smartwatches and health monitors as part of IoT. What’s more, almost 50% said that smart home devices provide increased value, 66% saw increased convenience, and 60% increased efficiency. The icing on the cake is that 53% said that they are unwilling to disconnect permanently or even temporarily from IoT devices and services, because those devices are too embedded in their day-to-day lives.

But although consumers are unwilling to disconnect, the study also found that in general, they are not comfortable with their data being collected by either personal or public IoT devices; 53% said that they would rather not have any data collected, and 52% had either a low level of trust or no trust at all that their data was secure. While there is a high level of value for IoT devices, there is a low level of trust in the very thing that drives IoT services – the exchange of data.

Three steps to increase consumer confidence

The lesson to be learned for everyone involved in the connected home industry, including manufacturers of connected products and the firms delivering IoT services, is that the value vs trust paradox must be resolved to help accelerate sustainable growth. Here are three recommendations for moving forward:

1. There must be a clear, concise data policy and share it with customers. If a consumer can understand how their data is being treated and reassured that it is being managed appropriately, they will have a better experience, and the brand reputation for the device or service should improve.

2. Manufacturers must take granular control of data. Don’t take a blanket approach to IoT data collected from devices – not all of it needs, or should, go directly to a public cloud. The ability to create a process to determine who gets what data, where and when, and crucially the ability to show this to customers, will make vendors stand out.

3. Accountability. Data security is the responsibility of everyone in the IoT value chain. Smart home device manufacturers, IoT service providers, application developers, network providers, cloud platforms and security software vendors are all part of the solution. Evaluate all providers and establish minimum security standards and requirements so each provider has accountability.

Consumers are asking for more transparency and control of the data collected and shared across connected devices and services and by providing this, trust can be established. For many of the service providers behind IoT, a data control platform will be paramount in managing data and providing transparency.

With trust comes confidence and increased consumer demand in smart home and connected services, which is the ultimate goal.