The rate of adoption of consumer IoT tech products has been underwhelming. The Accenture 2016 Digital Consumer survey showed a 1% growth in demand for devices such as smartwatches, connected security cameras, and personal drones. That wouldn’t be a problem if we weren’t speaking about one of the most hyped technological advancements of the decade.
Some of the disappointment over Consumer IoT (CIoT) adoption rates can be blamed on high expectations. Ever since it was conceived, the Internet of Things has been a victim of overoptimistic forecasts. Those who made those forecasts were often subjected to harsh reality checks. But the 2016 survey brought some other problems into the limelight. Security is a major problem for IoT. Consumers can’t find the value in CIoT devices to justify their cost. There’s a steep learning curve to using CIoT devices. You don’t need an engineer’s skill set to see that there’s a disconnect between the industry and the consumers.
Addressing the Main Concern
Consumers can’t be blamed for their lack of trust in IoT security. In 2016, the Mirai malware hacked hundreds of thousands of IoT devices and used them for a DDoS attack. The same year, hackers DDoS-ed the heating controllers in two buildings in Lappeenranta, Finland. They managed to effectively disable the heating by making it reboot over and over again. This is a big problem when the daily mean temperature is around 30°F. The CloudPets leak was also significant. Information of half a million of owners of CloudPet’s IoT toys was stolen by hackers.
It doesn’t surprise that 96% of organizations and 90% of consumers think the government should step in and regulate IoT security. That’s what the results of this year’s Gemalto survey showed. The survey also said that IoT manufacturers and service providers devote only 11% percent of their budgets to security. And 92% of them saw an increase in sales or product usage after adding security measures.
The Trust Issues
Trust will be a major roadblock to increased CIoT adoption as long as the devices and services are seen as unsafe. People will not buy products that might compromise their personal safety, or the safety of their information. We’ve seen some companies, such as MasterCard, make big moves to fortify their fences. Companies with smaller budgets should do whatever they can to add security features if they want to grow. Sitting and waiting for the blockchain to solve IoT’s security problem is not an option.
Data access and management is another opportunity for the CIoT industry to increase consumer confidence. Consumers’ concerns over the safety of their data are well documented. Allowing consumers to see and manage their data can be a great way to start bridging the trust gap. However, just making it possible to access and manage data will not suffice. Manufacturers and service providers will need to make it reasonably easy to access and manage data. The steep learning curve should be reduced for all aspects of usage of IoT devices and services, including data access and management.
Commercial IoT devices and services should be on the cutting edge of product and service personalization. Interconnected devices offer an unprecedented opportunity to capture consumer data. Service providers build their offering around the devices. They can leverage the data to deliver personalized services with a clear and realistic value proposition.
Accenture’s Digital Dynamic Consumer report gives an insight into the types of services consumers want. 18% are interested in starting to use health assistant services within the next 12 month. 16% are interested in smart trip and personal assistants in the same timeframe. 12% are interested in using entertainment and event advisors.
Things look even better in a 5-year period. 60% of consumers will be interested in health assistants, 59% in trip assistants, 56% in personal assistants, 51% in entertainment advisors, and 50% in event advisors. CIoT manufacturers and service providers need to look at the services consumers want the most. Then, they need to engineer the solutions that will make those services available, affordable, and easily usable.
Engineering through the barriers to CIoT adoption will not be easy. The first step, building trust, would require industry players to quickly deal with issues that have been plaguing IoT for a long time. It would also require them to work with the consumers to achieve a satisfying level of data transparency and control. At the same time, the transparency and control measures cannot be implemented in a way that makes CIoT devices less valuable to the users. Adding value is the number two concern that should be addressed in parallel with security and data usage.