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Your clients may be aware of voice-activated tech, but are they buying it?


June 25, 2018   by Jason Contant


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Canadians’ awareness of voice-controlled, connected home devices such as Google Home or Amazon Echo is growing, but consumer interest in acquiring such a device is not keeping pace, a new study shows.

Canada’s Internet Factbook 2018, released on June 20 by the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), shows consumer awareness of voice-controlled, connected home devices grew by 22 per cent over the past year (from 55 per cent last year to 77 per cent in 2018).

But the spike in awareness has not translated into any massive sales increases. Only 32 per cent of respondents surveyed by CIRA showed interest in acquiring one of these devices – a meager 3 per cent increase over last year.

The study findings are based on a survey of 1,203 adult Canadian internet users.

The spike in awareness might spell good news for Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company, which opened an Innovation Outpost lab in Kitchener, Ont. last week. One of its first projects is a new interactive technology that uses an Amazon Alexa voice skill to connect Wawanesa customers to their brokers for an auto or home insurance quote.

Brokerage Excalibur Insurance Group will be the first brokerage going to market with the technology.

Late last month, Kanetix Ltd. reported at Insurance Canada.ca’s Technology in Action seminar that it was working with Google to “train it on our language,” so consumers can use Google Home to ask for an auto insurance quote.

While these devices simplify the buying process, CIRA’s annual study found that Canadians do have concerns with cybersecurity in general. These concerns may play a role in the hesitancy to buy voice-activated and other technologies.

Three-quarters of those polled (77 per cent), for example, reported that they were concerned about cyberattacks against organizations that may have access to their personal information. Eighty-one per cent expressed concern about the security of their personal information held by a government department in the event of a cyberattack.

Don Duncan, security engineer for NuData Security in Vancouver, noted that “Canadian companies are already adopting the latest technologies, such as behavioural analytics and passive biometrics, that are moving well beyond passwords so that if a data breach does occur, Canadians’ identities can be protected from malicious use.”

He added that “users can do their part as well by checking to make sure they are on the correct website, looking for the security lock on the websites and reading all the fine print. These steps will help to ensure that consumers are safely searching and buying on the internet while the government and businesses are working towards doing their part as well.”

Other survey findings included:

  • 52% of Canadians have five or more internet-connected devices in their home
  • The use of a mobile device to make an online purchase has increased to 40% in 2018 from just 12%in 2014
  • 27% of Canadians who use Facebook and Twitter indicate they don’t feel safe from cyberbullying on these platforms; more women than men have been reluctant to participate in social media/online discussions because of online harassment.

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1 Comment » for Your clients may be aware of voice-activated tech, but are they buying it?
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