CSG International snapshots consumer expectations for the IoT

CSG International, a business software, services, and support provider, has published its Future of the Digital Experience report, with an IoT edition hoping to chronicle what regular people think about the trend. CSG’s study polled 2,000 consumers, asking about their current understanding, usage, and future opinion, of the IoT and connected devices.

The headline figure is that 90% of polled consumers already have some type of IoT device, and that 47% of consumers apparently use wearables – with 40% saying that wearables are the most important IoT device. Some 23% of consumers have smart home devices too, but like the ‘IoT device’ above, that will include all the shipments of Amazon Echoes and Google Homes.

In a similar vein, 40% of the polled consumers said they saw the benefit of using IoT devices in the home, however, only 36% of consumers that don’t use smart home technology are interested in using it. That’s far lower than we would expect, and it’s perhaps an issue of marketing and messaging, as 49% of consumers would apparently like to use the IoT to simplify tasks within the home, according to the study.

To give some scale on the potential size of the market, CSG cites the IDC estimate that spending on the IoT will reach $772bn in 2018, and the IHS estimate of 125bn connected devices by 2030. As it stands, according to a cited Gartner figure, the consumer space holds the majority of interest here, with 63% of IoT applications focusing on the consumer markets.

CSG found that 60% of consumers think the most valuable attribute of IoT devices is the ability to make life easier, and that 36% of consumers primarily characterize the IoT as ‘providing daily conveniences that make life easier.’ That’s a very different sort of definition than that you would find in the industrial IoT, but from consumer perspective it does seem entirely correct.

This is one of the main problems for consumer IoT developers. They have to create a product that solves one of life’s little problems, but do it in a package that costs less than the perceived value of that task – no easy balancing act. What’s more, the developer risks damaging the value of their brand, should the device or application perform sub-optimally, meaning that there’s a significant risk to be had in targeting low-value use cases.

With higher-priced devices, there’s something of a sunk-cost fallacy at play, where the consumer will be more willing to tolerate a failure and try to fix the problem, for fear of wasting the money spent. However, should that fix not work, there’s the added risk of an apoplectic outburst, so perhaps the stakes are lower in the lower-price regions – even if it’s easier for the consumer to simply hurl the problematic device into the bin, or take it to a store for a refund. The latter option is not so easy for larger or installed devices.