Transparency Market Research forecasts that the wearable market will be worth U.S$5.8 billion by 2018. That’s some serious dollars. We already know that wearables can do fun things like track your heart rate and remind you to walk around every hour, but surely this isn’t the driver behind a U.S$5.8 industry. Wearables are starting to make small waves in the business world, but when it comes to business what are wearables good for? Source: Statista
Yes, your smartwatch can go beyond measuring your heartbeat, it can be harnessed to perform a variety of business functions, and this is an area that is set to boom. The International Data Corporation has found that apps for wearable technology is set to explode from 2,500 in 2014 to a staggering 349,000 by the end of 2019. Source: StatistaJohn Jackson from The International Data Corporation said that:> “Applications designed for wearable devices deployed to address specific enterprise workflows are the highest value targets for developers in the wearable technology space in the near term…enterprises will find numerous points of intercept for existing and new workflows and are prepared to invest substantially in wearable solutions that deliver potentially transformative productivity and competitive benefits.”What does this mean concretely? It means that apps designed for wearables that address business needs will be invaluable in the future. Wearables can be used in two ways for business: employee wearable use and customer wearable use. It’s expected that the next two years bringing a dramatic increase in businesses using wearables to access customer data in real time, view business analytics and create immersive customer experiences. 14% of companies are using wearables to gain real-time customer and business analytics, and receive important alerts such as deal closings and case escalations. Salesforce apps Wave Analytics and Salesforce1 are already offering these services,> “Sales personnel will be able to make discount requests and pull customer information regardless of their location, and customer-facing staff will be able to receive alerts about urgent issues in order to handle them more quickly, and both will be able to receive motivating notifications when they have reached a goal or received positive client feedback,” said Raj Mistry, SVP for solutions engineering at Salesforce. Employees can stay on top of tasks with Trello, which has joined the foray. This popular organization app has been adapted to smartwatches, with some limited functionality, such as adding tasks, view due dates and changes, access cards recently viewed on the smartphone and respond to comments. A Salesforce report found that 20% of companies are using wearables for communication, such as Slack, the corporate-friendly chat app. Slack can be integrated on your smartwatch allowing you to read and reply to direct messages, and manage unread notifications. The same report also found that 20% of business surveyeduse wearables for employee time management, with apps such as Invoice2Go, which is perfect for employees who are paid by the hour. Using Geofencing technology, the app sends a prompt to start logging time when the employee arrives on site. Users can also change their times, send invoices and receive notifications when they’re paid. However, the biggest area of growth centring around customer experience. Customers are using wearables for customer loyalty programmes. Starbuckshas developed a customer loyalty program that gamifies coffee drinking. Customers can earn stars by drinking Starbucks coffee, these stars can then be redeemed for rewards, such a free coffee. While this sounds like the good old customer loyalty card you used to get stamped at the coffee shop, the advantages are you can’t lose it, the app can provide directions to the nearest branch and you can pay using Passbook - all from your wrist. As with every wave of new technology, security is a concern and consumer devices like wearables are more prone to data breaches because their very nature demands ease of data sharing - meaning that sensitive corporate data could potentially move undetected outside the realms of the company. This means that in order to protect sensitive data, businesses who want to implement wearables have to think about keeping their data encrypted and controlling data flows to wearable and other smart devices. Another concern highlighted in a recent report from Appceleratorhas found that 72.4% of developers struggle to create apps for wearables citing lack of mobile-optimized backend data as the biggest hurdle. This means that new infrastructure has to be created so that data can be easily shared on wireless networks. With these two serious issues to consider, it will take some time for wearables to reach their full potential in the business environment. Nonetheless, wearable technology has the potential to shape the future of the workplace. Love apps? Check out our blog post Top 5 Apps Guaranteed to Boost Productivity.