Are Wearables Finally Taking Off In The Enterprise

by Sohini Bagchi    Jan 05, 2018


With the buzz around smart glasses, smart watches and various fitness tracking devices, consumers have become more aware of this burgeoning technology, incorporating wearables into their daily lives. However, researchers believe wearables can be mainstream only when they become a business reality, as there are much bigger opportunities for deploying wearable technologies. In fact, wearables when used in specific industries and for certain types of workers, have witnessed savings of billions of dollars. Going by recent reports, we can say that 2018 can be a decisive year for wearables to make a strong inroad in the enterprise.

According to ABI Research, the adoption of smartwatches, smart glasses, and wearable scanners is forecast to reach $55 billion by 2022. The increase is due in part to stronger supporting platforms for the enterprise, the research firm said. The benefits of wearables in the enterprise include increasing productivity and efficiency, and also reducing errors, which saves on costs.

Research firm IDC said in a recent report that wearables could be the next major-growth segment in category. “Wearable device makers will ship 113.2 million units this year across a wide range of device types, including smartwatches, fitness trackers, and wireless headphones,” according to IDC market study.

Read more: Six Smart Wearables For Your Workplace

But by 2021 manufacturers will ship 222.3 million devices, an 18.4 percent compound annual growth rate, IDC estimates. But major changes are coming to the wearables market over the next three years. The fitness trackers that dominate the market now will have less influence as full featured smartwatches from the likes of Apple and Samsung become the top sellers. Meanwhile, smart clothing will become a significant force in the marketplace.

In the consumer segment however, looking ahead, fitness tracker sales are stagnating. According to IDC, it expects total fitness tracker shipments around the world to hit 47.7 million units by 2021. As a result, the category’s market will slide to 21.5 percent. On the other hand, smartwatches have come on strong in 2017. IDC estimates that device makers shipped 31.6 million smartwatches worldwide by the end of 2017 putting this category’s market share at 27.9 percent, with Apple as the dominant player till date, followed by Samsung and Google in this category.                                         

Smart clothings are showing strong potential in the business segment. While in 2017, just 2.4 million units were  shipped, by 2021, smart clothing shipments will jump as prices come down and a broader market sees value in the category.

More workplaces will be either issuing wearables to their employees or making accommodations for wearables, believe analysts, as these devices could be used for training, facility access and even payment. Glasses may make a comeback in the workplace, for applications such as training and coaching.

Most of the new platforms are available as a SaaS (Software as a Service) or PaaS (Platform as a Service) offering. And, as stronger security protocols are required, the platforms will mature. But wearable platforms differ from other device platforms by requiring specific applications that can support many different wearables. For example, the diversity of smartwatches, with different operating systems and face shapes, often causes compatibility issues when creating device applications, according to the report.

Read more: Fitness Bands Drive The Wearable Market in India

However, most wearable platforms can be supported by enterprise mobility management (EMM) solutions, such as mobile device management, mobile application management and mobile content management, believe experts.

The advancements in the quality of wearables is also a factor, as they’re expected to be rugged and can survive in outdoor conditions. Many of the wearables in use are smart glasses with augmented reality capabilities, so that workers in the field can send data back to their home office in real time for more analysis. Another example of an interesting enterprise wearable is one in the transportation industry that uses biometrics to determine when a truck driver is feeling fatigue. In addition to helping save money, it can also save lives by preventing accidents.

With all signs signaling towards wearable technology as the next big thing, businesses need to have a game plan in place to act on the competitive opportunity, while considering the challenges as well. The upsurge of wearable devices will create new opportunities for marketing, including smarter, more vigorous customer data collection, and stronger insights into user interaction.