It seems that more weird and wonderful connected devices enter our homes every day. Gadgets which were once dreamt of in Sci-Fi movies such as virtual personal assistants and household robots are now mainstream, and a fully connected home is easily achievable. The most successful connected devices are those that make our lives easier (or as some may say, allow us to be lazier!) - coffee machines, fridges, ovens and cars. The concept is referred to as Internet-of-Things (IoT), but perhaps a better term to use would be the Internet-of-Your-Things. With 20.35 billion connected devices expected to be in use worldwide by the end of 2017, and predicted to increase to 75.44 billion by 2025, the IoT industry could prove to be very profitable for utility and telecom providers looking to capitalise on these new devices entering our homes.
SQS recently conducted research into consumer perception of technology in the home to help better understand the barriers to entry providers may be experiencing. Unsurprisingly, British adults have a strong interest in the concept of the connected home - 89 percent of us agree that a connected home would make our lives more convenient. 49 percent feel a connected home would save money on household running costs through the measurement and management of utility usage. So, there is clearly an appetite for connected products in the UK. The issue, however, is trust and ease of use. Connected products must be secure and reliable, provide obvious benefits and be easy to manage and use, no matter our level of technical competence.
The perceived problems of the connected home, such as security issues and privacy issues, need to be addressed now. Quite frankly, there are so many applications and innovative technologies entering our lives it is creating a fragmented user experience, far removed from the simpler way of living promised by the ideological connected lifestyle depicted in ‘Back to the Future'. As consumers, we are demanding a fully integrated solution to both monitor and manage our entire range of services and connected products through one central service provider.
Embracing the connected home
Many of us may feel dubious about one single provider entering and controlling where we live at such an unprecedented level – think Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Connected devices monitor our lives to provide a better, tailored service. We are willing to sacrifice a proportion of personal privacy in return for a technologically enhanced lifestyle, we must question the security of connected devices that hold our personal information. Devices that want to reside in our abodes must gain our trust now if they are going to succeed.
Our research proves there is apprehension when it comes to the safety of connected homes; 43 percent of us worry a connected home would be easier to break into than a standard house. 56 percent fear that the control hubs for connected devices could be hacked into, preventing a further 48 percent of us from buying them in the future. It is imperative that technology manufacturers calm this unease now if they want to venture further into the home.
The risks are now very different to those when the only connected device in our houses was a PC that used dial-up internet. A cyber-attack on a modern connected home could potentially have dramatic consequences far beyond a negative impact on an organisation's reputation. For example, if a home with young or elderly residents reliant on a connected home hub to regulate heating and electricity was hacked, the loss of connectivity could result in serious health issues. Cyber-attacks are no longer just about an industry or an individual company, they are personal.
Prove your quality
Providers must embrace quality in everything they do and prove to the consumer that it underpins their technology. Addressing the safety concerns, as highlighted above, must be a provider's number one priority. As recently seen, Samsung is a brand that has already adopted quality into its messaging, going so far as to include it in their marketing efforts, placing the slogan ‘excellence in quality control' as its strapline. In doing so, service providers will be able to reassure consumers that connected devices are secure, private, and resistant to cyber attacks.
Contributed by Kevin Cunningham, managing director at SQS
*Note: The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of SC Media or Haymarket Media.