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GLOBAL 2016: Winning consumer IoT trust requires establishing value, practicality, security

Brands need to think forward and plan for a connected reality

by Jarrod Ramsey
Vice President, Mobile Technology
Picture this: You’ve just installed a smart washer in your home that integrates with other Internet of Things (IoT) devices. It texts you when a load is complete and tallies each time the washer is being used. The IoT washer keeps track of how often it’s being used to make intelligent decisions about when the user may be running low on detergent. The washer then uses that data to offer replenishment or coupons on detergent or dryer sheets. The smart washer is providing value to consumers by saving them time and anticipating their needs. Therefore, the brand that is in partnership with the IoT device object can capitalize on the data and provide personalized value to consumers. Because IoT has the ability to become an intimate part of consumers’ everyday lives, brands need to consider a variety of factors before jumping into the Internet of Things. To secure their place in the future of IoT, brands need to think forward to a connected reality.
First, think value. For a brand to engage in IoT, it has to identify the value it’s going to barter in exchange for the user’s data and make sure that provided value is important enough to invite the device into a home or workplace. IoT devices must earn their place in people’s lives by exchanging value for that data. Some valuable offerings include sending a notification once a threshold is met, resetting preferences after a certain time, or perhaps automatically reordering an item when trust has been established between the user and the connected object. The capabilities and integrations of IoT are endless, and the type of value they offer to everyday consumers is up to the brands
Second, think practical. By design, IoT objects serve a defined purpose and have limited awareness of their surroundings (depending on user settings). This makes connected devices easier to design, integrate, and more stable. Brands should take that as direction and focus on the everyday purpose of the object and how it makes consumers’ lives easier. Thinking practical also applies to the steps a user will take to set up the device; it’s imperative for a smart device to be an easy integration. Anything greater than a three-step process is a setback in the device being regularly adopted. The introduction of IoT hubs are meant to provide a system to alleviate those additional setup steps when new devices are brought into the home; for example, the user simply turns the new device on and the hub does the rest of the connected integration. Even Amazon’s Dash button drew fire from reviewers for a supposed complicated setup, despite the number of steps.
Third, think security. With IoT’s ability to capture data and personalization, security becomes a paramount priority. Nothing loses a user’s trust faster than a breach of their data. Unfortunately, some webcams have been compromised, giving hackers a full-view inside people’s homes, and by flicking connected home lights burglars have learned whether or not a house is occupied. Branded IoT devices should position themselves as trusted guests when they are invited into people’s homes, keeping personal data under lock and key. Although stronger security methods are in the works, the general advice is to let the actual connected devices be as simple and non-descript as possible. The goal is to leave personalization and decisions to a cloud that is secured and that the user has opted into.
In closing, brand activation in the Internet of Things is going to have to be centered around value, practicality and security to win consumers’ trust. Think of what the world will look like over the next five years when the simplicity of IoT has come to fruition – when it’s been adopted well and become the essential everyday device we all hope it could be. IoT is more achievable than we think and has the potential to be a brand’s trusted companion.