Report: Smart home tech part-help, part-hindrance

Australians’ attitudes towards smart home tech is conflicted, according to new Accenture report

Brands need to strike the right balance between personalisation and privacy, and nowhere is this more acute than in the home, according to a new report from Accenture Research.

The Putting the Human First in the Future Home report looks at Australian’s attitudes towards smart home technology and finds a tension between helpfulness and intrusiveness.

The research, which surveyed more than 6000 people from 13 countries, across different age and demographic groups, as well as contextual research including video, photography and diary-style reportage to understand technology at home, found it’s a battle of help versus hindrance. On the one hand, it makes people feel more connected, but on the other, people report it also makes them feel more isolated. And herein lies the challenge to brands and marketers in how they communicate the benefits and usefulness of smart home tech.

“While many brands can sell smart home products that make people feel more connected, those brands that deliver real value in the future home are the ones that allay their customers concerns about feeling isolated, or intruded on in the modern technological environment,” said Accenture communications, media and technology lead for Australia and New Zealand, Jonathan Restarick.

According to the research, for half of the Australian respondents (51 per cent), technology at home makes them lazy, while over half (57 per cent) say it makes them feel isolated. Furthermore, nearly half of Australians (48 per cent) surveyed find technology at home intrusive. 

Yet it’s not all bad news. People do see significant benefits of smart home technology, whether it’s ordering groceries online or controlling their home climate, with more than 70 per cent of respondents reporting it makes home life easier. And 63 per cent of respondents saying it makes them more connected, while 59 per cent report it makes their home life more fun.

To enhance its usefulness and compel consumers to adopt smart home technology, Restarick recommended seeing the holistic home of people and their lifestyles.

"Success requires brands to think differently about product design, with specific focus on seamlessly supporting the household,” he said.

With Australians spending more time in their homes and reporting smart home tech can both improve how they live in their homes yet also provoke concerns about intrusion and isolation, the report suggested there's still some attitudinal hurdles that brands will have to overcome at the tech matures.

"Brands must also recognise the need for a delicate balance of customer personalisation and privacy. Now more than ever customers are seeking a unique experience but also transparency around how their data is being used and if it is secure. Success is ensuring the technology is seen as helping the household more than the provider," Restarick said.

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