With new devices making their way onto the wearables market, wearable technology will no longer be viewed as a consumer fad or a buzzword. In fact, this year has started with a bang for the wearable industry as a slew of ‘smart’ gadgets debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). And this year, we saw more than just fitness bands and clunky wrist-mounted devices.
We have reached a point where the average Joe has started taking an interest in wearables, joining the fitness junkies and tech nerds who came before them. The trend means more mainstream consumers are going to start strapping into IoT devices and become part of the data gathering and sharing machine. What do they gain? Instant notifications, targeted sales and marketing, and smart looking accessories. With the recent launch of the Apple watch, there’s a new wave of conversation as to whether it’s going to be the wearable we’ve been waiting for, or just another gadget that doesn’t live up to the hype. Irrespective of the varying views, one thing is for sure – wearables have truly arrived. But “wearable” is not just about cool gadgets, it’s about the data that these devices deliver. How will we analyze and utilize the data they collect? Does the opportunity lie with the user who gets to take part in a trend that makes their life easier, or does it rest elsewhere? I believe the true worth of these devices falls squarely on how the enterprise benefits. Let me explain.
First, open your imagination and envision smart buildings that use beacons and sensors to manage power and consumption. Imagine if retailers could use cameras to measure buyer sentiment and understand what drives purchasing. What if we could decrease the number of security breaches by making devices secure when someone moves within a few feet from the device, without becoming a nuisance to the user? There is limitless potential in the wearables industry just waiting to be tapped. We are already seeing wearables making moves into the enterprise as many banks like U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, and Moven test smart-watch apps that allow their customers to perform regular banking activities through wearables; and manufacturers are automating their factories using sensors. We have also seen examples of businesses leveraging the IoT: Marks & Spencers and coffee marketing giants Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts have used beacons and sensors to gauge customer behavior, improve customer interaction, and enhance in-store experiences. It really is only the beginning.
Businesses are dipping their feet in the IoT pool because the value proposition for enterprises is strong. APX Labs, LLC, smart glass software producers, estimates there are close to 40 million desk-less workers in the U.S. who could gain from using wearables in various industries including manufacturing, construction, transportation, healthcare, retail, etc. In this context, it was interesting to read Accenture’s Putting Wearable Displays to Work in the Enterprise report that offered many real-life use cases for businesses planning to adopt wearables. According to a Gartner forecast, smart glasses, similar to the failed Google Glass, will add more than $1 billion per year to company profits by 2017.
These studies and reports bolster the fact that the IoT is indeed the next big enterprise phenomenon. And why not? The growth of the IoT in enterprise is tied to several factors including the increased use of technologies like social media, mobility, analytics and cloud computing (SMAC). So if you ask me, I’d say that the adoption of wearables and the IoT is a natural progression for the business landscape.
Disclaimer: This blog was written as part of the Connect With Ricoh Innovative Ideas program and was first seen here. While I was compensated for this post, the ideas and views are my own.
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