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Consumers’ message to IoT thing makers: ‘Smart things’ aren’t ‘easy-to-use things’
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Consumers’ message to IoT thing makers: ‘Smart things’ aren’t ‘easy-to-use things’

by Sheetal KumbharDecember 31, 2015

CES 2016 is right around the corner and if you’re anything like me, you’re anticipating a few “wow” moments when confronting the many “cool” devices, gadgets and software that will showcase how far we’ve come in terms of techno-vation.

Sadly, techno-vation isn’t the carrying card it once was. Case in point: 78% of respondents to PlumChoice’s “IoT Device Adoption and Technical Support Benchmark Report: 2015,” said they do not even own a smart home device. While consumers are increasingly interested in new and cool “things,” data confirms they have very little idea how to connect and use these things on their own, and they’re inconclusive with regard to who to turn to AND TRUST for help, says Wynn Grubbs, senior vice president, Sales, Business Development, PlumChoice.

The survey reveals alarming data about consumer adoption and usage of smart things. The report from the survey of 1,500 consumers explores why connected devices and gadgets have not been universally embraced by consumers. It takes a look at the adoption and use of today’s mainstream, Internet-connected devices (i.e., smartphones, laptops and fitness bands), along with consumers’ understanding of and intent to use emerging smart home technologies (i.e., smart cars, door locks and thermostats). The research also gauged consumers’ needs and expectations for technical services and support.

The blinding takeaway from the survey: consumers don’t have a handle on using the connected technology they already own – so how is that going to play out for the devices and solutions still to come?

If you’re making and/or selling smart things, here are five crucial takeaways that should keep you up at night:

  1. Two-thirds, (TWO-THIRDS!) of surveyed consumers can’t use the connected devices they already own to do the things they’d expect those devices to do. Sixty-seven percent struggle to recognise the benefits of what they currently own. What’s just as alarming for brands selling these devices and solutions: 46% of those consumers don’t ask for help when they need it. Consider this – if a consumer can’t figure out how to use or connect the device to the rest of their tech environment, what value are they experiencing from that device?
  2. Connected home value is hard to find. Almost 75% of respondents aren’t interested in purchasing a smart home device in the next two years. This flies in the face of the brands exhibiting at CES who expect their “things” will fly off the virtual shelf. Adding insult to injury, 48% of respondents don’t think they need a smart home device; they don’t see the value. That’s a huge gap to close between hype and reality.Age is just a number – it means nothing when it comes to smart technology. Even younger generations, i.e., 60 percent of consumers in the 18-24 age bracket, not only have difficulty completing all the tasks they’d like to achieve with their connected
  3. Age is just a number – it means nothing when it comes to smart technology. Even younger generations, i.e., 60% of consumers in the 18-24 age bracket, not only have difficulty completing all the tasks they’d like to achieve with their connected devices, but also don’t see value in emerging connected home devices and solutions. The general consensus among IoT brands is that marketing to the younger generations will pay the most immediate dividends; the data indicates otherwise.Manufacturers and retailers aren’t perceived as trusted technology advisors – or even trusted tech assistants. Fifty percent of respondents said they turn to a friend or family member for help, while only 17 percent ask the product’s manufacturer for assistance; only 14 percent turn to the retailer who sold them the product. The problem: if you want them to adopt, you need to change that perception, quickly.
  4. Manufacturers and retailers aren’t perceived as trusted technology advisors – or even trusted tech assistants. Fifty percent of respondents said they turn to a friend or family member for help, while only 17 percent ask the product’s manufacturer for assistance; only 14% turn to the retailer who sold them the product. The problem: if you want them to adopt, you need to change that perception, quickly.Is YOUR brand at risk? A resounding 75% of respondents said that whether a brand offers tech support – and to what depth – impacts future buying decisions. Validating other market research is the fact that 14% said they’ve returned a product in the past two years because they had difficulty installing and using it. More than half of those individuals said they will not buy from that brand again.
  5. Is YOUR brand at risk? A resounding 75% of respondents said that whether a brand offers tech support – and to what depth – impacts future buying decisions. Validating other market research is the fact that 14% said they’ve returned a product in the past two years because they had difficulty installing and using it. More than half of those individuals said they will not buy from that brand again.

The data is painting a clear picture; brands have a long road to travel before consumers galvanize around smart home products and solutions. The right kind of specialised technical assistance – starting before the purchase and not ending once the new device or solution is installed – can make or break the purchase decision and adoption curve. All of which have customer engagement and long-term revenue implications.

If your company designs, makes and/or sells IoT innovations, let this be a wakeup call. CES 2016 is around the corner and while you might make waves at this year’s show, if you aren’t acting on the support consumers are beginning to demand for their increasingly complex and highly personalised technology environments, CES 2017 could be a tough show, if you show at all.

The author of this blog is Wynn Grubbs, senior vice president, Sales, Business Development, PlumChoice.

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Sheetal Kumbhar

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