Barely half of Australian small businesses are familiar with the phrase ‘Internet of Things’ – with an embarrassingly large chunk thinking it’s some kind of email system. These are the findings of a recent international survey by AVG which found Aussie businesses to be among the least familiar with IoT concepts. But is this an indication of poor ICT knowledge or simply a cultural resistance to corporate wank-speak?
IoT picture from Shutterstock
Last month, AVG employed research group Vanson Bourne to interview 250 small businesses in Australia about the Internet of Things (IoT) as part of a wider international survey. Only 52 per cent understood what the phrase ‘Internet of Things’ meant, with 15 per cent incorrectly identifying it is a type of email system. This was nearly double the number of any other country in the study.
Australian businesses were also less likely to invest in IoT due to a fear of increased security risks and perceived complexity. Bizarrely, the Top Five IoT devices small business owners expected to own included monitors and coffee machines (refrigerators, printers and scanners were also on the list.)
The above findings paint a picture of a slightly backward nation that is reluctant to take up new technologies. On the other hand, perhaps we just have a lower tolerance for marketing buzzords, which ‘Internet of Things’ unquestionably is.
Tellingly, out of the respondents who believed IoT was a current reality, nearly 65 per cent said the concept was over hyped. This figure was significantly higher than the global average.
Individual responses to the survey were equally cynical, with some participants dismissing the Internet of Things as a "corporate cliché", a senseless slogan or an unnecessary repacking of old concepts. Two respondents simply dismissed it as something for geeks.
We asked AVG security advisor Michael McKinnon whether Australia simply have a better BS detector when it comes to the new buzzword flavours.
"I'd say that's probably spot on," McKinnon admitted. "Australian businesses tend to be fairly savvy when it comes to this sort of thing. In fact, I was originally a little skeptical myself.
"I think that's the real challenge here, because the Internet of Things is real. It might have an unfortunate name and people are grappling with their understanding of it but this evolution of technology is absolutely happening. Our job is to build that awareness around people's understanding of what is meant by Internet of Things."
So what is meant by the Internet of Things?
“It’s about connectivity,” McKinnon said. “We've reached a year in history where we’ve suddenly got these other devices that are plugged into the network. It’s about the data that’s coming out of these devices and how it all comes together.”