Digital consumers value their online identities

Microsoft survey shows consumers aware of value of online personal data to brands

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Digital consumers value their online identities Arkestaal: People are more willing to share data, but are becoming overwhelmed by the volume of data being created.
By  Mark Sutton Published  March 26, 2015

Digital consumers are increasingly aware of the power of their online identities and its value to brands, according to new research conducted by Microsoft.

The global study of consumers, which included the UAE, found that over three quarters of consumers (83.5%) are aware of how their personal online presence, and the data it generates, powers the digital world. In addition, half (63.7%) are interested in sharing personal information as long as there is a transparent exchange from which they derive personal benefit.

The Microsoft Digital Trends 2015 report surveyed 13,000 consumers across 13 countries, in partnership with the Future Laboratory and Research, showed that more than 87.6% of those surveyed expressed an interest in wearable technology and 72.2% in the Internet of Things, although 79.3% of people also complained about information overload and said they would be interested in services to help them manage their data online. One third of respondents (30.6%) said that they never did anything with the data gathered by their wearable device.

"While it's encouraging to see people becoming more comfortable with connected devices and the sharing of personal data online, it's clear that many are simply overwhelmed by information," said Thom Arkestaal, Research & Insights Lead, Emerging Markets, Microsoft Advertising. "Companies have to be transparent about how data is collected and how it will be used. There must be a reward - giving consumers an incentive to provide data and engage with services."

Other findings from the survey were that people don't want their online and real life experiences to be separate. Interest is growing in a future wave of digital services that will allow them to experience any place or object online or offline in the same way: 67.6%.

Consumers also want to contribute to shaping and designing products and services: 5% are more likely to buy from companies that allow them to take an active role in personalizing their products. Sixty-seven percent of respondent also want digital networks that are specialized, and suited to their precise needs or activities in any given moment.

Waseem Afzal, head of Digital at OMG said: "With the proliferation of media choices and explosions of screens, we have seen significant investment and the growing need to understand consumer insights. Our digital landscape in the region has changed massively over the last few years and the new study conducted by Microsoft unlocks some powerful and interesting insights. While it looks at the UAE through a global lens, it reveals what differentiates this market from many other developing ones."

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