Wearables: An Evolution from Novelty to Business Value

By Angele Levesque of CMA's Customer Insights & Analytics Council

There is endless chatter regarding the Internet of Things and more often than not, Wearables are at the heart of much of that discussion. In recent forecasts, Gartner predicts that wearable adoption will have a staggering 48% growth from 2015 to 2017.

A large part of this growth is fitness wearables. I’m sure there are many, much like me, who bought a wearable athletic device, used it religiously for a short while only to have left it collecting dust in a drawer somewhere. There are many reasons for this, including the short-term novelty effect, hype, and ultimately the value (or lack thereof) consumers feel they receive in exchange for the data that they provide.

But consumer wearable tech is only one part of the picture. It is in the Business to Business (B2B) space where I believe we will see more innovative, relevant and sustainable applications. Consider for a moment the utility and value in areas such as productivity, safety, business process improvement, supply chain management and health and wellness, to name a few.

A recent article by PYMENTS summed it up: “A  study released last December by Forrester research revealed that while only 45 percent of adult consumers surveyed showed interest in the technology, 68 percent of companies said wearables are a priority for their workplace. In summarizing the findings, Forrester analyst J.P. Gownder concluded that “businesses don’t want to just give workers wearables. They want to use wearables to reshape their business models.”

Beyond giving employees fitness wearables to improve health and wellness, there are endless possibilities for wearables in the B2B space. Here are five innovative applications focused on this area:

Healthcare:

  • Hands-free vascular imaging
    Companies such as Evana have found innovative use for smartglasses in hands-free ultra-sound and vascular imaging.
  • Improving eyesight
    eSight is one of the latest firms to come to market with a wearable, hands-free, portable devices which allows people with vision loss to see without surgery.

Public Safety and First Responders:

  • In-mask thermal imaging.
    Emergency personnel, including firefighters, have been exploring the use of wearable tech to improve safety in low visibility conditions. This year, Scott’s Safety unveiled Scott Sight, a new in-mask thermal intelligence system designed specifically for this purpose.

Manufacturing

  • Mobile live voice and video:
    Spintower’s wearable communication system D.A.R.V.I.N® enables live video and voice to help improve communication and problem solving real-time in the areas of manufacturing.
  • Smart helmets:
    Another example is the Smart Helmet, created by DAQRI. This device uses augmented reality to provide workers with contextually relevant information. The aim is to allow workers to understand processes quicker, spend less time on each step and ultimately make fewer errors.

This is just a handful of examples of companies that are leveraging wearable tech in the B2B space. They demonstrate the value wearables bring to organizations and their employees.

However, it is important to note that to ensure trust, adoption and ongoing success, organizations will need to put in place governance around data security (i.e. personal health information) and privacy – in the same way as with B2C applications. In doing so, the potential is endless and enterprises will reap the financial rewards for embracing innovation.

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Tags: wearables, b2b, internet of things, consumer, data security, technology, hands-free