Trust issues: Why businesses need to address consumer IoT concerns

12 Dec 2017

Amazon Echo Dot. Image: Zapp2Photo/Shutterstock

A report from Cisco shows that the adoption of IoT devices is in jeopardy if consumers are not confident in the safety of products.

Today (12 December), results from a survey of 3,000 consumers have been compiled in a report from Cisco, and they show a large divide in how people are using internet of things (IoT) devices, and their trust in the area in general.

The Cisco IoT Value/Trust Paradox report found that while most consumers are in no doubt of the value that these devices and services bring to their lives, very few are aware of how the data generated from them is being used.

As well as this, customers are distrustful when it comes to IoT data security, but are at the same time unwilling to disconnect from their services and devices, even on a temporary basis. According to the survey, we are reaching a “point of no return” when it comes to the adoption of IoT into our daily lives, and many people are tolerating uncertainty and risk rather than disconnecting.

Companies that step up to the plate in terms of providing transparent information look set to benefit, as trust becomes more and more crucial for the acceptance and acceleration of IoT.

More awareness of personal devices

More than twice as many consumers can spot personal IoT devices than public ones. 63pc of surveyed consumers could identify personal devices such as wearables and home security systems while only 27pc were aware of public implementations of IoT, such as energy meters, traffic systems and so on.

53pc of consumers feel that the devices make their lives more convenient, with 47pc reporting boosted efficiency and 34pc citing an increase in safety by using these devices and services.

Increasing value doesn’t mean everything is rosy for the future of our connected world, though. While consumers are seeing increasing value in services, they are very concerned about the security of their data and how it is being used. Only 9pc of respondents trust that their data collected and shared through IoT is secure. Only 14pc feel that companies do a good job of informing them what data is being collected and how it is used.

Educating customers about their data

“As more companies build their businesses around IoT services, they need to first understand the importance of educating customers on how they are using their data to deliver new, valuable services that will enhance their lives,” said Macario Namie, head of IoT strategy at Cisco.

Namie said that customers are crying out for more transparency into data safety and processing in terms of these services and devices. “Consumers are asking for more visibility into IoT data practices, and, to increase transparency around your IoT data governance and management, you first need to be able to determine who gets what data, where and when.

“Today’s IoT platforms solve for this problem and can give you the ability to enhance consumer confidence and trust, which can lead to greater adoption of your IoT services.”

Cisco recommends a “clear, concise data policy” that should be shared with users, and said companies should take greater control of their data using a platform.

Accountability is also vital throughout the entire value chain, and all providers should be evaluated and advised to enforce minimum security standards and requirements.

Amazon Echo Dot. Image: Zapp2Photo/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects