Cisco Survey Finds Disparity Between IoT Value, Trust in Security

Key conclusion: Businesses need to address consumer trust issues with better security to increase confidence and accelerate IoT adoption.

The IoT (internet of things) networking equipment market has been a real thing for only a few (read that three or so) years, thus the sector is still in its infancy. As a result, there aren’t too many market research reports available yet describing it.

To help allay this lack of information, Cisco Systems Research has pitched in to offer what it calls the first “IoT Value/Trust Paradox” report. It released highlights of the survey Dec. 12.

The world’s largest internet networking company surveyed 3,000 consumers, an excellent sampling. The project was designed to provide businesses with insights on how to increase consumer confidence in and adoption of IoT services.

The survey results show that, while most consumers believe IoT services deliver significant value for them, very few understand or trust how their IoT data is being managed and used. It can be a mystery for many people to understand.

We've Been Here Before

This is often the case with new-gen IT; for example, it took about a half-dozen years for people to get used to trusting the security of cloud services in the 2006-to-2012 time frame. Before that, it took users the better part of a decade to learn to trust the internet itself in the late ‘90s.

Totally understandable. We still have huge security breaches to this day, so not much has changed.

This conclusion about lack of trustworthiness in the IoT has revealed an interesting paradox, Cisco said: Despite their lack of trust in IoT data security, consumers on the whole say that they are unwilling to disconnect from IoT services, even temporarily. These findings indicate that we as a culture are approaching the point of no return at which consumers irrevocably commit to IoT being an integral part of their lives.

IoT is becoming so deeply integrated into consumers’ daily experiences that it is easier to tolerate uncertainty and risk than to disconnect, Cisco said.

While the survey reveals that consumers are willing to accept risk and trade off value for trust, they do so reluctantly. Their desire for transparency and visibility into how their data is being used remains strong, Cisco said. Companies that can resolve the paradox for their customers have the opportunity to accelerate and sustain the growth of their IoT businesses.

Here are highlights of the research:

Awareness: More than twice as many consumers recognize personal IoT devices than public ones. When consumers were provided with a broad list of devices and asked to identify which were part of the Internet of Things, 63 percent on average correctly identified personal IoT devices (wearables, home security systems, and so on), while only 27 percent were aware of public IoT implementations (street lighting, energy meters, traffic systems and so on).

Value: Across the IoT spectrum, the perceived value that IoT brings to consumers’ lives is quite high: 53 percent of respondents believe that IoT makes their lives more convenient; 47 percent say IoT makes them more efficient; and 34 percent say IoT increases their safety.

Trust: While consumers are seeing increasing value in IoT services, they are very concerned about the security of their data and how it is being used. Only 9 percent of respondents say that they trust that their data collected and shared through IoT is secure. And only 14 percent feel that companies do a good job of informing them what data is being collected and how it is used.

The IoT paradox: Consumers value IoT, but don’t trust it. Despite this lack of trust, they are not willing to disconnect: 42 percent said that IoT is too integrated into their daily lives to disconnect from these devices and services, regardless of the perceived risk.

The Cisco IoT Value/Trust Paradox report recommends that businesses use these insights and implement the following steps to address the gap between value and trust in IoT:

Establish a clear, concise data policy and share that with your users: Companies must be able to provide transparency into how they are using and securing data and how this helps to improve their customers’ experiences.

Take granular control of your data: To increase transparency around IoT data governance and management, companies first need an IoT platform that can help determine who gets what data, where and when.

Create accountability throughout your IoT value chain: Companies must evaluate all the providers in their IoT value chain and put IoT solutions in place to enforce minimum security standards and requirements so they can hold each provider accountable.

For the complete study, including all data and additional business insights, download it here.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...