Consumers struggle with new smart tech, study finds

Remember how you struggled to understand how your first smartphone worked? Or your first smartwatch? Or your first smart anything?

That struggle is real, and you're not alone, a new study has found.

According to a new report from Accenture titled Engaging the Digital Consumer in the New Connected World, most consumers experience challenges using several new types of smart, high-tech devices.

Overall, 83 per cent reported to have various problems when they use new device types such as wearable fitness monitors, smart watches, smart home thermostats, in-vehicle entertainment systems, home connected surveillance cameras and security systems, and wearable health products.

The biggest challenges consumers face are that the smart devices are “too complicated to use” (21 per cent), “set-up did not proceed properly” (19 per cent), and “did not work as advertised” (19 per cent).

Across all age groups and geographic regions surveyed, 33 per cent cited “ease of use” as the most important criteria when deciding which of these products to buy. Twenty-nine per cent said “product features and functionalities” are important. And 22 per cent said the same about buying “a trusted brand.”

Sami Luukkonen, managing director for Accenture’s Electronics and High Tech group, said the developers of smart tech should go back and rethink their entire development process.

“For these new connected device categories, high tech companies need to go back to the drawing board and rethink their product development approaches to focus on the entire customer experience,” said.

“They should make fundamental strategic changes that no longer focus on product feature differentiation but rather holistic, digital experience differentiation.”

The survey was conducted online in October and November 2014, with 24,000 consumers in 24 countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States.

The sample size in each country was representative of the online population, with respondents ranging in age from 14 to 55 and over. The survey polled respondents about their usage, attitudes and expectations related to digital device ownership, content consumption, broadband constraints, digital trust and the Internet of Things.