MARKET | Oct 25, 2018

AI, Big Data and IoT: these unknowns?

A Digital Transformation Institute and CFMT survey reveals how much consumers know about the main technological trends

Are we more curious about being able to use a new app for sharing a means of transport, being transported by a car without a human driver, or more terrified by the possibility that our data are being purchased for receiving offers calibrated to our needs, and our privacy violated?

Generally speaking, we are trusting and positive. This is the finding of one of the scenario researches – carried out by the Digital Transformation Institute and CFMT, in collaboration with SWG and Assintel – which compared the point of view of end users with that of digital players on the main technological trends under way, namely Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and IoT, Blockchain and Social Media.

In fact, almost half of users believe that technologies can have a positive impact on their lives, 39% are continually surprised by the changes that are accumulating, and 33% expect that technologies will eventually introduce positive revolutions.  So, little fear (16%) nor too much anxiety (18%), as we would have expected, but even more feelings of joy (22%) and passion (27%).

A positive climate, therefore, and of curiosity for 80% of those interviewed who, in almost 60% of the cases, declare to be comfortable with technology.

Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Cloud, Big Data, IoT: what do consumers think?

And now for the bad news. Although trusting, users do not have much experience in the field and not much clarity about the significance of different technologies.  Only 34% of consumers interviewed had heard about Artificial Intelligence, while 34% of users did not know what Big Data are and what they are for.  Not to mention Blockchain: even in its best known form, cryptocurrency (Bitcoins to be clear), 52% of consumers interviewed had no idea what it is and what its applications are. Except for then declaring, in more than half of the cases of those who claimed to be aware, that the use of technology in processes of disintermediation would improve their lives.

And, it was said, experiences have been scarce: as many as 61% of those interviewed had never paid using contactless, 65% had never interacted with TV via smartphone, only 12% had used a voice assistant and barely 14% had received personalized news on their smartphone about a store they had visited.  And 50% of users believed that the protection of privacy is more important than the possibility of obtaining discounts through the use of their personal details.

Although few users admit that they have feelings of fear, they do express some fear: from privacy, to the fear of being cheated or fear linked to the fact that digital tools and apps make us incapable of interacting with real experiences. Last but not least, that of no longer being able to distinguish people from robots and losing the desire for human contact.

And how do companies respond to the climate of trust but little knowledge of the end consumer?

The panorama on the companies side is undoubtedly not very promising: companies have a low interest for almost all the enabling technological applications of Digital Transformation, excluding Social Media (46%) and applications that use Big Data (41%). 68% of companies have not invested in AI and 65% have not put their money on Blockchain.

This does not mean that the situation is very different seen in perspective. In fact, in the future, more than half of companies are putting their money on Big Data, the Internet of Things and Social Media, while suspicion regarding Blockchain and Augmented Reality remains high.

Stefania Farsagli