Consumers and manufacturers agree on recycling, IoT and privacy, but not always on the ‘how’

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Survey results from Autodesk have found that consumers and manufacturers agree on the value of product recyclability, privacy and Internet-connectivity, yet diverge on the most beneficial attributes of the Internet of Things (IoT).

The findings come in part out of Autodesk’s recent Accelerate 2015 conference in Boston, which brings together manufacturers focused on product lifecycle management (PLM).

Almost 60 per cent of consumer respondents in the U.S. survey say they would be willing to pay a 10 per cent premium for a product, such as a home appliance, that can be recycled at the end of its useful life.
Manufacturers in the survey concur on recyclability, with 61 per cent saying it’s important or very important to their product development process.

When it comes to the IoT, consumers reported less willingness to pay a premium. Only 29 per cent said they would pay the same 10 per cent premium for an Internet-connected device, such as a thermostat.

However, consumers in the survey do see various benefits coming from Internet-connected products. Different views of the top benefit for IoT products break down as follows:

– 39% favor the ability to activate or turn-off a product remotely
– 22% favor the ability to monitor product or personal data over time
– 21% favor the ability of manufacturers to update products’ software functionality or fix bugs remotely
– 9% favor that aggregate data can help manufacturers improve products
– 9% favor the ability to share data with friends/social networks

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Manufacturers also see the benefits of IoT, but they rank the benefits differently than consumers. A large plurality of manufacturers in the survey (42 per cent) see the top benefit as the ability to monitor product and user data over time, and 24 per cent see the ability to aggregate data to improve future products as the top benefit – both of which were considerably lower among consumers.

Even more starkly, only 4 per cent of manufacturers in the survey see the ability to activate or turn-off products remotely as the top advantage, while that attribute was top rated among consumers.

Despite these differences, manufacturers are moving aggressively toward IoT products. 43 per cent in the survey are already using sensors to inform product upgrades and development efforts.

Even more bullishly, 60 per cent expect the majority of their products to be Internet-connected in the next three years.

Only 16 per cent say it will take five to 10 years to reach that milestone, and 14 per cent say their products will never be connected.

Consumers and manufacturers in the surveys also find common ground on privacy.

58 per cent of consumers in the survey are concerned about manufacturers using data from Internet-connected products to inform future R&D efforts.

Manufacturers are, however, sensitive to consumers’ privacy concerns, with 58 per cent saying it’s an important or very important factor in their plans to offer connected products.

“The consumer preferences found in our survey can help guide manufacturers as they think about sustainability and IoT capabilities they design into their products — recyclability and remote control of products rank high. But manufacturers have to work hard to ensure that consumer privacy is protected, and they need to build in connectivity at minimal extra cost to consumers over traditionally non-connected devices,” said Brian Roepke, director of PLM and IoT, Autodesk.