From fitness trackers to head-mounted displays and even connected home appliances, the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart devices are commanding serious column inches in the media these days. But the reality, according to research commissioned by Trend Micro earlier this year, is that adoption is still on the low side. Can we expect this to change? In all likelihood – yes, as the reality hits home that this proliferation of Internet-connected smart devices has the potential to make our lives richer and more productive.
But security and privacy concerns remain a major barrier for IoT manufacturers. So how exactly can they take steps to allay these concerns and drive adoption?
What many don’t realize is that adoption of IoT is not as high as media reports make it out to be. In conjunction with the Ponemon Institute, we interviewed more than 700 U.S. consumers to compile our study, Privacy and Security in a Connected Life. It found that 95 percent of them had “no plans” to use Google Glass, and 94 percent had no plans to use smart security systems for their homes. The figure was similarly high when it came to smart home thermostats (91%), fitness trackers (91%) and connected kitchen appliances (83%).
However, we believe this is unlikely to remain the case for long. A recent study of 2,000 U.S. consumers by digital marketers Acquity Group found that adoption of IoT technology is “inevitable” as compelling new B2B and B2C use cases emerge. It claimed that nearly two-thirds of consumers plan to buy a connected home device in the next five years and ownership of wearables will double by next year, reaching an adoption rate of 28 percent.
Now for the barriers
Major barriers persist that continue to combat IoT acceptance. Concerns over privacy were expressed by nearly a quarter (23%) of consumers when it came to IoT devices and slightly less (19%) for wearables, according to Acquity Group. A majority of those asked by Trend Micro (54%) claimed they were either unsure (15%) or didn’t believe (39%) that the benefits of IoT outweighed their security and privacy concerns.
Part of the uncertainty stems from a lack of communication by the smart device vendors about how, where and for how long consumer data is used, which left respondents feeling confused and concerned. But there’s also a real fear that security faults in devices themselves and the ecosystems built around them could cause them to malfunction or even allow hackers to subvert the systems. As IoT assumes an increasingly central role in our lives such concerns will only grow.
Time for action
According to the Acquity Group, incentivizing consumers with “coupons for helpful information” would make them more open to data sharing with third parties. But according to our survey, consumers are more worried about IoT security (75%) than privacy (44%).
So what can IoT manufacturers do to improve security and ease privacy concerns?