There is much more to the wearables market than just activity trackers like Fitbit and smartwatches like Apple Watch or Pebble Watch for consumer use. A recent research report, "Putting Wearables to Work: Insights on Wearable Technology in Business,” from Salesforce indicates that wearables are a strategic platform for improving business performance and companies are making investments in the technology. Case in point: 86 percent of the 500 wearable tech adopters surveyed across a range of company sizes said they plan to increase their wearables spend over the next 12 months.
Where are they going to spend their money? On smartwatches. Sixty-two percent are using, piloting or planning to use smartwatches in the enterprise in the next two years. So how can businesses leverage smartwatch products? A few examples cited in the report include augmented sales intelligence where sales can use natural language speech input to send information directly from the smartwatch to a CRM system, and customer preference alerts sent to customer service reps at retailers, allowing them to deliver high-touch personalized experience.
Other buying priorities include digital lanyards and smart glasses. Use cases include the use of RFID badges and lanyards at resorts to transact payments and manage access to rooms or VIP areas as well as generating data to analyze insights about better traffic flow within an event site or at particular times of the day. Smart glasses could be used to provide support to remote field service reps such as connecting to technical diagrams.
Currently, business users are focusing on basic uses such as workplace security access (23% currently using), employee time management (20% currently using), and real-time employee communication (20% currently using). No matter what the use case from basic to complex, the one thing they all have in common is device integration. None of these applications will work without some kind of connectivity to another device or technology.
But what I find quite interesting is that 79 percent of adopters believe that wearables are or will be strategic to their company’s future success. Already, 69 percent report improvements in business performance since deploying wearables in the enterprise. Who knew? This is all good news for OEMs and tech innovators involved in the connectivity arena.
Another interesting nugget from the study is that wearable-generated data (aka big data) is expected to be an “enterprise game changer.” But it’s not even close yet. Only eight percent of adopters said they're completely ready to gain actionable insights from the volume of employee and customer data generated from wearables.
One of the hold ups is a lack of enterprise apps. Thirty percent of adopters cite the lack of business applications as a key challenge in deploying wearables.
"Wearables are the next phase of the mobile revolution. Like smartphones before them, the key to success for wearables in the enterprise is all about the killer business apps," said Lindsey Irvine, Global Director of Strategic Partnerships, Salesforce, in a press release. "This research demonstrates the tremendous opportunity for wearable use cases to drive significant business value."
The market for wearables in the enterprise is wide open for OEMs and only limited by the designer’s imagination. It’s still pretty amazing to think that a lot of these great innovations in the mobile and wearable space were sparked by fictional devices such as Dick Tracy’s watch and Star Trek’s communicators and tricorders.