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Call for Insights: Digital Privacy and Ethics in the Internet of Things

Jessica Groopman

Whether employee or consumer, patient or citizen, one truth underlies all of the hats we wear: we’re all people. Our experiences, perceptions, and inclinations as creatures of pattern, privacy, and comfort inform how we engage with the world around us and with the brands that we interact with every day.

With consumers expected to own some 26 devices per person in just five years, brands face a dual imperative: to act and embrace sensors to create better customer experiences, but to do so in ways that protect, communicate, and respect us as informed citizens and arbiters of our personal data.

It is this simple notion that inspires Altimeter’s next research report around the Internet of Things: Consumer privacy and ethical data use in a world of connected devices, products, infrastructure, and connectivity. As part of our open research process, I would like to extend an invite for your input, feedback, case examples, example of legislation, or any other insights you’d like to contribute to this upcoming research.

To help brands navigate the uncharted waters of what privacy means in a digitally connected physical environment, we’ll be conducting research on consumer perceptions of privacy in the Internet of Things to inform best practices, foster trust and security, and avoid creep, annoyance, and opt-out. Specifically, this research will address:

  • Differentiators: What’s different about privacy in IoT vs. web/PC-based Internet?
  • Customer Expectations: How are customer expectations changing and evolving with regards to privacy, personalization, and the use of their data?
  • Domain-based Considerations: What impact does the where (e.g. home, transit, in-store, etc.) have on how brands can leverage sensor data for consumer-facing programs most effectively?
  • Risks & Rewards: What’s in it for brands to change the way they communicate their use of consumer data? What’s in it for consumers?
  • Best Practices: What steps can companies take to build trust with consumers specifically related to their IoT initiatives? How can we balance innovation with disclosure and risks?  How do we design experiences that are not overly invasive, cumbersome, or creepy?

This research will help digital and innovation strategists apply consumer-facing IoT use cases across an ever-expanding set of interfaces, devices, sensor capabilities, and beyond-- and do so in ways that better respect and protect consumers and the collection, use, storage, aggregation, and sharing of their data.

We need your input! Please feel free to reach out to me at jessica@altimetergroup.com, or leave a comment with any feedback, input, interview referrals you would suggest we consider.