Wearable Tech World Feature Article
January 28, 2015

Is Wearable Technology Headed for the Enterprise?

When it comes to wearable tech, there is no disputing the technology’s power to disrupt the enterprise. Just consider the following statistics aggregated by CMO Magazine:

  • Wearable technology is a $700 million industry
  • Smart glasses, smart watches and fitness bands will reach about $3 billion for 2014. New categories will represent about $2 billion in sales, based on 4 million units
  • 52 percent of people recently polled said they're aware of wearable technology devices. And among those, a third said they're likely to buy one
  • Worldwide spending on wearable technology will reach $1.4 billion by 2016

In other words, wearables may have originated in the consumer landscape, but they are quickly infiltrating into the enterprise world.

“Wearables are penetrating into the enterprise and they will only grow from there,” Beau Wilder, Director of Strategic Solutions for Plantronics, said during a breakout presentation today at ITEXPO titled “How Wearable Tech Will Change the Enterprise.”

“One of the things we have been trying to figure out is the logical on ramp to the enterprise,” he added. “HR is taking an early lead, but IT is very interested in this space. They are keeping their ear to the ground to see where it goes.”

But Wilder cautioned audience members to remember that we are just in the beginning stages of witnessing wearables in the enterprise. Some of the earliest instances include HR benefits coordinators looking to weave personal fitness trackers into corporate environments to reduce overall healthcare costs and revolutionize the healthcare office.

Perhaps no industry stands to benefit greater from wearable technology then field service workers, like a cell phone tower technician. Such knowledge workers can rely on the technology to communicate equipment malfunctions and remedy problems in real-time as opposed to waiting days for the company to be notified of a problem.

As companies look to bring wearable to the enterprise, however, they must keep end user needs and pain points front and center, argued panelist Aaron Say-low, CEO, XOEye Technologies. In other words, it’s not about what the enterprise stands to gain; it’s about how employees’ lives can be transformed for the better.

“In sales we use the phrase ‘decision maker’ consistently, but if we are not paying attention to the people on the floor then these technologies will never scale well,” he said. “It’s about using technology to create the best work environment. The more we can integrate into existing business systems, the more compelling the value proposition for wearable technology will be.”

So what are some challenging enterprises will face when it comes to widespread wearable adoption moving forward?

For starters, IT will now have to react to the fact that employees are bringing their own smart wearable devices to work. What that means for IT is that they will be asked to support those deceives and enable specific experiences. This trend could perhaps give rise to the BYOW movement, or the “bring your own wearable” movement as moderator and Wearable Tech World Group Editorial Director Erik Linask suggested.

Echoing a similar sentiment, Wilder said, “IT is keeping its finger on the pulse with this movement and will have to wait and see how much penetration happens but they will have to react.”

Moreover wearable tech vendors will have to make a solid use case to the enterprise as to why they should embrace such technology when they already have an advanced computer, a smartphone, in their pocket at all times.

“It’s a constant question we ask ourselves,” Wilder said. “If the smartphone can do everything the wearable device can do then why put another piece of technology on my body?”

“You have to add value to the enterprise and significant value to the individual for them to want to wear it,” he added.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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