Companies need to accept tradeoffs to foster “digital trust” with employees if they want to gather the workplace data necessary to realize the full economic and competitive benefits of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the sharing economy, according to a new study by American International Group, Inc. (AIG).
The IoT’s potential seems limitless and borderless, with sensors, storage, analytics, and other connected technology becoming faster, smarter, and less expensive to implement. However, realizing that potential relies on the willingness of businesses and employees to share data so that connected devices can generate insight, action, and value.
When benefits are perceived by those surveyed, the willingness of businesses and employees to participate in data sharing jumps to seventy five percent (75%) from only eleven percent (11%) when no benefit is perceived.
There is common ground between companies and employees about what conditions are needed to create a data sharing environment. Seventy six percent (76%) of employees surveyed globally indicate digital trust requires that employers notify them if data collection is taking place. The same percentage of companies surveyed (76%) agree that notifying employees about data sharing is important.
Eighty one percent (81%) of employees also see their employer as responsible for keeping their data private, should they choose to share it, while more than seventy percent (70%) of companies responded that it is important to establish clear policies when it comes to data collection.
Both businesses and employees agree by wide majorities (89% and 87%, respectively) that laws must be updated to accommodate new data sharing business models, balancing privacy protections with innovation, particularly in the IoT space.
“Smart, safe data sharing will power the new economy,” said Rob Schimek, Chief Executive Officer, Commercial Insurance, who unveiled the study at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. “We conducted this study to quantify the tradeoffs necessary for success in the sharing economy. A new kind of digital trust is being built in the workplace based on these tradeoffs, and every employer and employee using technology today is part of it.”
Building Digital Trust
While there is some overlap in attitudes between companies and employees about data access, differences exist that may require tradeoffs to be made and compromises to be struck, according to the survey.
The study shows that more than half of all businesses (56%) believe that firms should require employees to agree to workplace monitoring as a condition of employment. On average globally, about the same number of companies would ask employees to wear devices (wearables) that help ensure safety in the workplace.
Employers further indicate they would be willing to invest in wearable devices and telematics in support of fleet vehicle safety to realize benefits. Employers in the U.S. would invest the most, up to $917 on wearables and $835 on telematics devices – per employee per year – which is about the cost of a mobile phone plan.
Employees are also interested in the safety benefits provided by wearables at work, but not to the same degree employers are. Thirty eight percent (38%) of U.S. and Australian workers would agree to wearables, which was in line with workers in the U.K. and France (40%) and Japan (36%). Employees in Italy, Singapore, and China were most inclined to accept wearables (56%), while German employees were least open to the idea (29%).
Of those employees globally who would accept wearables, they are most interested in sharing workplace environmental conditions, presumably for the benefit of their own health and safety. This suggests there is a basis for additional incentives and trust building to persuade more employees to share their workplace data.
Perhaps the most challenging divide revealed in the study is that while a majority of companies would mandate data monitoring, employees by nearly three to one (71%) feel they should be able to choose the data they provide to employers, rather than accept mandatory data sharing requirements.