Cisco Study Finds an IoT Data Paradox

Scott Ferguson

As the popularity and importance of the Internet of Things continues to grow, a paradox of how these devices are used and what data is being collected is also taking shape. In essence, people like what IoT does, but they don't trust companies with all the data that sensors and connected devices collect.

These and other observations are contained in a new study that Cisco is publishing entitled IoT Value/Trust Paradox. The report is based on questions sent to 3,000 US and Canadian consumers in October.

The results, published December 12, find that consumers like the types of services that IoT devices offer. However, there is a lack of trust that consumers of IoT technology have with the companies, and sometimes the government agencies, that receive the data that sensors and connected devices collect as part of that process.

(Source: Pixabay)
(Source: Pixabay)

This is the paradox that Cisco's research found:

While there is increasing awareness of IoT and people are finding value in different connected devices and services, the data exchange that is required to deliver that value is sitting on a weak foundation of consumer trust. Consumers are extremely wary of the personal data collected for both personal and public IoT implementations. But, despite all this, the study finds that IoT is so integrated into consumers' daily lives that many are unwilling to disconnect.

Spending on IoT technology, including the hardware, software, security and services that make the whole ecosystem work, is only expected to increase over the next several years. In a recent report, IDC found that spending on IoT is expected to top $772 billion in 2018 and grow at an annual rate of over 14% over the next four years. (See IoT Spending to Reach $772B in 2018 – Report.)

At the same time, Cisco is also looking to delve deeper into the IoT market as the company looks to move away from networking gear and into other areas that include more software and network automation designed to support these new technologies. (See Cisco's Q1 Beats Wall Street Expectations.)

Recently, Cisco announced a new financing program for cities that want to invest in "smart" technologies, as well as IoT. (See Cisco Creates $1B Financing Program for Smart Cities.)

IoT technology remains relatively new and that's causing some of the mistrust between consumers and the companies investing in IoT projects.

For instance, a majority of respondents identified that fitness trackers, smartwatches and home security systems are part of the IoT ecosystem, but less than half realized that street lights, vending machines and wind turbines also have sensors that collect data.

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Since consumers have little control over what data is collected by these larger-scale IoT projects, as opposed to more personal ones such as fitness trackers, trust is eroding. About 52% of respondents reported that they "have either a low level of trust or no trust at all that their data is secure," according to the report.

At the same time, only 14% of those questioned believe companies do a good job of informing them what data is being collected and how it is used.

Still, consumers see value and convenience in IoT technology and 42% believe that these devices are so integrated in their lives that they can’t disconnect even when they believe their personal data is not being secured.

To help counter this, Cisco is offering three pieces of advice:

  • IoT companies and government agencies that use the technology need to develop clear, concise policies about what data is collected and how it's used.
  • Tech firms should take granular control of the data they collect and use a management platform that clearly spells out who gets access to the data and why.
  • Finally, companies should create accountability not only within their own firms, but throughout the supply chain to make sure security and data collections policies are uniform.
Related posts:

— Scott Ferguson, Editor, Enterprise Cloud News. Follow him on Twitter @sferguson_LR.

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12/18/2017 | 9:51:29 AM
Re: paradox
<I wonder if statistics might alleviate some of that by pointing out the rarity  of harm in the overall scheme of their use.> I'm not sure that would work @kq4ym. For example, we know that deaths from shark attacks are rarer than many other things (25 ennumerated here), but we still would not want to risk a shark attack. Likewise, there are greater dangers than being struck by lightning, but we would still be foolhardy to stand under a tree ina thunderstorm. 
12/18/2017 | 8:39:31 AM
Re: paradox
While it's most likely true of most of us as noted that we're "extremely wary of the personal data collected for both personal and public IoT," it will be a challenge to find ways to overcome this natural tendency to worry and be suspicious as IoT takes over more and more devices around us daily. I wonder if statistics might alleviate some of that by pointing out the rarity  of harm in the overall scheme of their use.
12/12/2017 | 10:10:32 AM
<Consumers are extremely wary of the personal data collected for both personal and public IoT implementations. But, despite all this, the study finds that IoT is so integrated into consumers' daily lives that many are unwilling to disconnect.>

This is true. But going forward, any company that does business with countries in the EU will have to be awre of GDPR and comply with the regulations about handling people's personal data. It doesn't mean that they can't upload the same data they have but that they have to inform people about what data is collected and how it is shared and used and allow them to opt out.
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