Gaining consumer trust 'is crucial to IoT innovation'

Businesses and consumers alike are learning to trust in IoT, says Digital Catapult

Trust

Large companies are learning that consumer trust is key to driving innovation in the Internet of Things (IoT), according to the R&D director of a government-backed start-up support centre.

Digital Catapult's collaborative R&D director, Maurizio Pilu, also claimed that enterprises are also looking towards SMBs and start-ups to spark new IoT developments, stating how important it is for smaller firms to "stir the pot" in order to accelerate innovation.

"What we are seeing here is going to explode in a few years time," he said. "Open innovation is very important to get the big guys to talk to the small guys, and get the big guys to understand what IoT can do for them, get them to co-create and work together to develop solutions."

Pilu added that the phenomenon is becoming increasingly business-focused as it develops.

"There are many applications of IoT that are less consumer-facing, they are in day-to-day business processes," he said. "You don't see them but they're happening and they're creating a lot of economic value supply chain, transport, asset management. All of these things are going to be revolutionised by this technology."

Pointing to a tension between customer trust and innovation, he claimed data privacy fears could be overcome by giving consumers more control over their data.

"It's correct to be cautious about personal data trust it's absolutely the right thing to do," he said. "At the same time, consumers and businesses have a lot of appetite for new services, so there's a tension between the need for new services and the fact that consumers need to be protected.

"That tension is a complicated one. In IoT it's going to be even more complicated because it can affect your personal life. Where you're going today in your car is intimate information that not many people are sharing on Facebook. Managing this tension is going to be a hot topic for the next few years."

One of the companies showcased at the event, digi.me, focuses specifically on the issue of personal data remaining personal to the user, doubling as a way for potential users to unite their social media data.

Chairman and founder of digi.me, Julian Ranger, also spoke to IT Pro about how companies are changing how they approach data privacy issues.

He said: "If it doesn't change you owning your own data, the world fractures because of different data protection, different views and the tension around the world. Companies can no longer provide one product for the world, but as soon as you go back and own it, you can control who gets to know about your car, where you're going and everything else.

"Europe is a great place to have this type of business, because we're so fractured and have so many different views, that actually, if you can manage to cater to that, you can do it virtually around the world."

"One of the problems with IoT is that it's very subtle, the temperature in your house can tell whether you're home or not," Pilu added.

"A normal consumer wouldn't think about that being potentially dangerous, so IoT is something more subtle than when you opt-in to share something on Facebook or Twitter, and that's why it's important to be careful. It's all about giving users more control."

Other companies showcased at the Digital Catapult event include chirp, targeted marketing platform beacontent, appyparking and Cupris Health, which turns smartphones into medical devices via connected attachments.

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