Brace Yourselves, the Wearables Are Coming
Wearables image via Shutterstock
Enterprises – not consumers – will drive the mass adoption of wearables.
As they did with smartphones, MP3 players, and other devices, enterprises have recognized the potential of wearables to create value for them, and they are gradually integrating them into their core processes and operations.
Deployment and original applications of wearables will supercharge enterprise efficiency, and change the way enterprises do business forever. They promise efficiency and quality improvement – not to mention billions of dollars in savings on expenditures.
Timeline: The Expected Evolution of Wearables in Enterprises
Wearable shipments tripled in the third quarter of 2015 compared to the same period in 2014, totaling 21 million units shipped, according to International data Corporation (IDC). Juniper Research, reported that the global retail revenue from smart wearable devices exceeded $4.5 billion in 2015. Furthermore, it projected this figure will triple by end-2016, before reaching $53.2 billion by 2019.
Compiled from different industry reports and sites, this is what the evolution of wearables look like for the next 10 years:
- 2015-2016: Early adoption begins in enterprises
Wearables make their way into healthcare, public safety, and other verticals with numerous field workers.
- 2017-2019: Wearable integration goes mainstream
Developer ecosystems supporting wearables (apps, back-end software, support services) come into maturity.
- 2020-2024: Wearables become commonplace
Consumer adoption peaks after prices drop and issues of privacy and security are resolved.
- 2024: Full enterprise adoption is reached
The next technological evolution is underway!
Why Wearables Are Winning
There are clear reasons why wearables have conquered consumers’ hearts. Their “blend-in” design, function, and hands-free operation are undeniably strong selling points. But wearables go beyond this “gimmick” formula that has dominated fads over the past decades. Their capacity for integration and physical advantage open the door to original uses and applications.
1. They can be synced to existing smart devices
Wearables still fall under the category of “companions” (ranked a little above accessories), and will continue to do so, according to Juniper Research. Rather than replace existing standalone devices, they work with smartphones, connected objects, apps, and each other, complementing their functionality in a non-intrusive and non-competing way.
For example, Lebanon’s Bank Audi introduced wearables (bracelets and watches) in its near field communication (NFC) payment solutions (Tap2Pay) which are linked to a mobile banking app. Likewise, the sensors on Instabeat’s smart goggles are linked to a mobile app and allow swimmers to measure their performance (a functionality that could be extended to other sports).
This two-way device communication constitutes a major value proposition for customers, since they run no risk of seeing their device outdated or outclassed. On the enterprise level, this means the adoption of wearables would occur seamlessly, without the need for any expensive infrastructure or software upgrades.
2. They will soon be mass-produced, growing better and more affordable
The promising outlook for the wearable market has prompted more players – even those not traditionally associated with smart devices and wearables – to follow in this trend.
Google, the search-engine-turned-tech-innovator, is the most prominent example. Camera manufacturers like Nikon, Canon, and newcomer GoPro have also rushed to introduce smart features and connectivity to their products. These may still be early days, but no one wants a repeat of Kodak’s epic fail when it rejected the first digital camera in 1975 – invented by one of its own engineers!
Moreover, a wide and motley crew of new developers and manufacturers are constantly swelling the ranks of the wearables industry. This means that as the supply of wearables continues to grow, wearables will go into mass production, becoming more accessible, more versatile, and more affordable.
3. They are disrupting industries
Wearables have taken the m-Health and personal safety verticals by storm, starting with heart and fitness monitors.
LifeSense, developed by the Lebanese startup CardioDiagnostics, is an app-supported wrist-worn heart rate monitor capable of detecting cardiac complications, alerting medical response teams, and guiding them to the patient in case of emergency. Pathfinder, also from Lebanon, is another good example of a disruptive wearable device. It consists of a sensor-equipped belt linked to an app and capable of detecting obstacles to help visually impaired people navigate more effectively and avoid various obstacles.
4. They can save enterprises billions of dollars
According to most analysts, enterprises are all set for disruption. After healthcare, new segments are already outlined on the horizon. In fact, the first product deployments have already begun last fall, mostly in healthcare, and new sectors are next in line.
In addition to their low cost of implementation (as mentioned above), these technologies present much bigger opportunities when it comes to employee efficiency, including improved field performance, safety, and customer service.
According to Salesforce Research, 79% of companies (early adopters) agreed that wearables are or will be strategic to their company’s future success. 76% reported improvements in business performance since implementing wearable devices in the enterprise.
Read the full article in our print magazine The Quarterly