A theoretical model incorporating social influence of the Internet of Things

4605548723_56442ccc18_zElodie Attié et Lars Meyer-Waarden (University Toulouse 1 Capitole, CRM CNRS, IAE School of Management)

This study tends to use an extended Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) to predict French consumers acceptance to the Internet of Things (IoT). The impacts of social influence as well as cognitive processes on smart connected objects’ acceptance are investigated.

To validate the model, data has been collected from 152 French consumers who answered to an online survey. Regressions determine direct effects of the following variables, innovativeness, perceived hedonist value (PH), consumer-well-being (CWB), perceived social image (PSI), perceived relationship value, perceived information value, perceived protection of privacy (PPP) and price on perceived usefulness (PU) and perceived ease of use (PEU)). We consider PU and PEU as predictors of the intention to use (IU) IoT and we study the correlation between the different variables.

From a theoretical point of view, this field study is applied to a complete new technology: the Internet of Things. Most of the publications in this domain are in Engineering, and not in Marketing.

Moreover, an enrichment of the TAM model with cognitive and social variables has been operated, showing the influence of new variables on the consumers’ acceptance of the Internet of Things technology, such as perceived hedonism, consumer well-being, innovativeness, perceived privacy and perceived social image.

From a managerial perspective, this study shows the importance to focus first on convincing innovators and early adopters to target more efficiently the market, as already shown by Von Hippel (1986). IoT reluctance mainly comes from the potential privacy risks of not being able to control privacy and how companies might use personal data. Besides, hedonic and social benefits cannot compensate for a lack of perceived protection of privacy. Thus, companies should be clear communicate how the data is stored and used, in order to reassure the consumer. However, consumers tend to favour also their well-being and new connected applications concerning health, sports. Hobbies might help to influence their opinion positively. 35% of actual users believe that smart objects increase their quality of life. Even if this percent is small, it would likely increase with the development of new kind of applications such as tracking health or sport and the access to new technologies which is becoming easier (price drop, better quality…). Our study confirms that to be accepted (and adopted), smart connected objects must convince potential users (and users) about potential benefits such as well-being for instance.
A key issue for the development of a new technology is the anticipation of consumers’ behaviors. The success of a smart connected object mostly relies on their speed, their quality, the brand, the ratio of quality/price, their connected services, and applications included. We may suppose that the constant evolution of new technologies and of the IoT will make smart objects more and more attractive, and should be more accepted in the next coming years.

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