Since the rumours many months ago that a certain consumer electronics company was going to introduce a smart watch, people have in equal parts been sceptical and excited about the potential of wearable technology. But despite the consumer appeal, is there a business case for using such things in the enterprise? Greg Vercellotti, executive director of Dariel Solutions, takes a closer look.
“If there was one thing that stood out from the Consumer Electronics Show held in Vegas last month, then it was how technology companies are looking at wearable technology as the next big thing. Whether this is going to be just a passing fad or is an accurate reflection of what the market wants will be hotly debated over the coming months,” he says.
Companies like Google, Samsung, and Sony, amongst others, have been promoting their products from glasses to wrist watches. Granted, there is a certain degree of gimmick in many of the current applications with not many consumers really seeing it fulfilling a need they have. That is not even to mention how some corporate decision-makers are viewing it as an expensive novelty that has no place in the organisation. But irrespective of your views on what to do with these products, the technology used in developing them are innovative and can point towards very interesting future implementations.
Since the rise of BYOD (bring your own device), companies have accepted the fact that their employees want to use their own smartphones, tablets, and even laptops in the business environment. Having a device that meets both personal and business needs just make sense. Initially, there was resistance around the security of sensitive company information and how access to the network could be controlled (and protected) when a device is lost or stolen. However, a lot of work has been done around revising corporate policies and processes to ensure that the risk is being mitigated.
A White Paper published by Ovum has found that approximately 75% of employees in high growth markets and 44% in developed markets are already using their own technology at work.
“Wearable technology could go a similar route. Today, data is everywhere around us. Consumers expect to be kept updated on news and entertainment and want to engage with family and friends anywhere in the world with the touch of a button. Similarly, companies expect to be able to reach their employees wherever they are and the mobile workforce requires access to the central network to fulfil in the needs of their customers virtually around the clock,” adds Vercellotti.
In fact, the blog Business Insider estimates that the market for wearable technology will be $12 billion by 2018. So where does this leave the organisation? Is it a case of trying to create a use case for a technology that is only starting to arrive now or do decision-makers need to think broader around improving efficiencies and reducing costs through these solutions?
It is certain that wearable technology presents numerous opportunities for developers to think out of the box and come up with effective solutions that can really benefit organisations. For example, think of a miner wearing a smart watch that is able to measure his vitals, the temperature, and air quality, and warn the shaft manager that there are potential safety concerns that need to be addressed.
“While jumping from a fad to something that is life and death might seem extreme, but the practical applications for wearable technology are limitless. Early adopter organisations are already looking at how best they can harness the power of the completely connected employee. Perhaps it is time to do the same and get ahead of the competition,” concludes Vercellotti.