Yes, 2015 will be the year when wearable devices, spearheaded by Apple Watch, will rocket to mass market adoption. My colleague James McQuivey recently blogged about the explosion in consumer interest for wearables, which grew considerably between 2013 and 2014 – even before Apple announced its forthcoming device. But there’s more to the wearables story, a secret driving force that’s been too often overlooked: The enterprise opportunity.
Forrester recently found in a global survey of more than three thousand technology and business decision makers that 52% identified strategy and support of wearable devices as a “critical,” “high,” or “moderate” priority for their company in 2015. Forward-looking executives with responsibility for mobile strategy – both technology and business leaders – are already piloting ways to use wearables to empower workers and delight customers.
As in the consumer market, the devices themselves aren’t the real stars of the enterprise wearable computing show. Instead, businesses will use these devices to reengineer business processes, develop exciting new customer experiences, and offer workers and customers contextually relevant information and services in their moments of need.
Some enterprises will equip employees with wearable devices to improve their efficiency and to reshape the customer experience. Evena Medical’s application for Epson’s Moverio smart glasses targets a very specific job role: phlebotomists, the nurses who draw your blood at the hospital (see top image). Using an add-on scanner, the smart glasses can detect the blood vessels in your arm, then uses immersive augmented reality to allow the phlebotomist to “see” your veins. The end result? Fewer missed veins, which means faster appointments, fewer infections, and a better patient experience.
In other cases, enterprises sell or give wearable devices to their customers to enable new models of interaction. Disney’s MagicBand is now a $1 billion investment; by selling a higher tier of access to its theme parks – along with benefits like scheduling a time for popular rides to avoid standing in long queues – Disney has driven higher revenue and higher customer satisfaction.
Also, as consumers purchase their own wearable devices, they’ll use them to interact with their favorite brands. W Hotels’ announced application for Apple Watch will empower guests to check in, open their hotel room door, and pay for goods – all with a swipe of the wrist.
All of these applications rest upon an infrastructure of networks, software, and services. Salesforce Wear has become an early leader by providing tools, reference applications, and code for developing wearable business processes across a wide array of wearable devices. One Salesforce reference application, designed for Google Glass, helps field technicians complete inspections – in this case, of an oil pipeline.
The Salesforce app allows the pipeline inspector to use Google Glass at every stage of her workflow. Glass presents information dynamically based on the inspector’s real-time location. The inspector can issue verbal commands to execute tasks on the inspection list (see image above), then take photos with Glass for use during audits. She can also receive real-time help in the form of knowledge articles, technical documentation, and even videos – each relevant to the task she’s currently doing. The idea is to save time, reduce errors, and improve documentation around the entire workflow. This isn’t about wearables, it’s about the business. And that’s the power of wearables.
During our trend – Wearable Computing: Ready To Take Off – we’ll offer insights into how enterprises are solving problems, delighting customers, and driving new revenue streams using wearables. Forrester will be unveiling new data on consumer and business adoption of wearable devices and services across Europe, and will present five unexpected wearable computing trends that will shape the market’s evolution in 2015 and beyond. And we’re publishing a new report on December 9 – the day of the trend – with a deeper view into this research.
I hope to see you at Le Web Paris 2014!
J. P. Gownder is Vice President & Principal Analyst at Forrester Research. He was named one of the 25 most influential people in the world on the topic of wearable computing, and he will be speaking during the “Wearable Computing – Ready to Take Off” trend at LeWeb’14 Paris this December. Don’t miss his sessions! More on LeWeb’s Trends & conferences here.