Accenture Consumer Study Finds Strong Demand for Control and Networking of Digital Devices and Services
Unmet demand represents significant opportunity for communication carriers
NEW YORK – A global study released today by Accenture (NYSE: ACN) shows that tech-savvy consumers would prefer a single-networking solution to link all their portable, home and automobile digital devices, which presents a major challenge — and opportunity — for communications carriers.
The study, “Telecommunications Competitive Future Research: A Consumer Perspective,” examined the opinions of 600 global consumers who are heavy users of digital devices and services. The study reveals that an overwhelming majority (87 percent) of those surveyed believe that most personal digital devices will be networked, with more than four in five (81 percent) of all respondents preferring a single point of control for all of them.
Moreover, more than half (53 percent) of respondents said that a single-vendor approach is the best way to provide a centralized control function. Eighty-five percent of respondents said that customer support was the most important criterion when selecting a company to manage multiple devices and services. These tech-savvy consumers also place high levels of importance on security and privacy standards (selected by 80 percent of respondents) and the ability to support standards across vendors (78 percent).
“Our research found that consumers who juggle multiple devices and data services have already identified the need for a central control function to simplify the management of their personal technologies,” said Andrew Zimmerman, managing director of Accenture’s Communications industry practice. “Given that some industry projections indicate there will be one trillion digital devices attached to networks within the next 15 to 20 years, a service that makes everything work together is both necessary and inevitable.
“But there is no clear front runner in the race to provide this service,” Zimmerman added. “However, unified customer support — a major strength of communications providers — was overwhelmingly chosen as the most important factor when selecting a single company to manage multiple devices.”
In terms of specific capabilities, the survey revealed that a vast majority (93 percent) of consumers believe that energy efficiency, or “green” controls (lighting, heating/cooling), will be networked in the future. Other items that respondents believe will be networked in the future include automobiles (selected by 84 percent), large appliances (81 percent), doors/windows (79 percent) and, to a lesser extent, smaller appliances (66 percent).
“Several years ago Accenture recognized that ‘user experience’ in a networked world comes down to the skilled orchestration of devices, data and controls — or ‘trivergence,’ as we call this phenomenon,” Zimmerman said. “This compelling new research confirms that trivergence is an important technology trend that is already apparent to tech-savvy consumers. The vast majority understand the concept, expect it to flourish, and believe that it will improve their lives.”
Among the survey’s other key findings:
* Life Simplification: The greatest areas of interest for leveraging single-networked capabilities identified were at the personal technology level. Consumers believe the concept could simplify their lives by enabling home monitoring and management (selected by 66 percent of respondents), automobile maintenance and management (59 percent) and media management (59 percent) on the network.
* Hard Demand for Soft Panel. When given alternate choices for managing connected devices, the greatest proportion of consumers (49 percent) said they prefer managing all devices from a single website or “soft panel,” compared with 32 percent who prefer each device having an associated widget and 19 percent who prefer a separate website for each device.
* Who Consumers Trust to Bring Control. A majority of consumers (58 percent) said they would trust technology companies – the designers and manufacturers of their digital devices – as a single-vendor provider of the control function. Communications carriers were ranked second as trusted providers, selected by 48 percent of respondents.
* Business Impact in Developing World. While tech-forward consumers in the emerging economies of Brazil, China and India have the same, if not greater, appetite for networked services as consumers in developed countries, they were much more likely to view these services as empowering them economically. Specifically, more than 90 percent of study participants in Brazil and China said they believe that trivergence will create new business opportunities and help them in their careers.
Personal Data for a Price. Eighty-three percent of tech-savvy consumers believe they should share in the proceeds if a company sells their personal information for advertising purposes. Moreover, two-thirds (66 percent) of all respondents said they would be inclined to “opt-in” to a program that sells their personal data to marketers if they — the consumer — share in the proceeds and their full identity is not revealed. Almost half (48 percent) said they were inclined to “opt-in” even if their full identity were disclosed as long as they shared in the proceeds.
* Privacy Protections. Although the tech-forward consumers in the study appear eager to trade limited personal data for a share of the benefits, that access comes with specific conditions. The vast majority of respondents (87 percent) said they believe that companies should be required to obtain their permission before they use personal data for advertising purposes, and an even greater number (91 percent) said they believe that companies should be required to state exactly how they will use consumers’ personal information.
Accenture’s study examined the opinions of 600 technology consumers on their wants, needs and expectations for technology while also measuring their acceptance of specific brands and providers in the marketplace. The study, conducted in July 2008, consisted of 100 self-administered online interviews in each of the following geographies –Brazil, China, Europe, India, Japan and the United States.
To qualify as a “tech-forward” consumer to participate in the study, respondents needed t
· be the joint or sole decision-maker for communications and technology products in their household;
· subscribe to broadband/high-speed Internet service, cable or satellite television service, and wireless phone service with a data plan or bundle;
· use at least 10 different devices, Internet services or household technologies to be viewed as an “early adopter” of tech products.
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. With more than 180,000 people in 49 countries, the company generated net revenues of US$19.70 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2007. Its home page is www.accenture.com.
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