CIOs to think afresh with smartglasses

by CXOtoday News Desk    Nov 07, 2013


With the advent of smart wearable devices such as smartglasses, the CIO needs to take a new look at the impact these technologies will have on the enterprise. A new research by Gartner suggests with smartglasses having the potential to improve worker efficiency in diverse verticals such as manufacturing, field service, retail and healthcare, CIOs particularly in these domains need to take a fresh look at the policies and implications of these wearable devices.

Slow and steady growth

In the enterprise segment at present, smartglasses still remain an emerging technology with less than one percent of companies in the U.S. having implemented this device. Gartner predicts the growth to increase to 10% during the next 5 years for companies with offsite workers, such as field service personnel and inspectors.

The research firm predicts that in the next 3-5 years, smartglasses the industry that is likely to experience the greatest benefit from smartglasses is field service, potentially increasing profits by $1 billion annually. “The greatest savings in field service will come from diagnosing and fixing problems more quickly and without needing to bring additional experts to remote sites,” says Angela McIntyre, research director at Gartner.

McIntyre believes that adoption of smartglasses will be slow because the benefits they provide depend heavily on the apps and services targeted at smartglasses. However, during the next five years, the ecosystems will evolve to include more apps that do specific tasks with smartglasses, which may cause IT organizations to provide them for a wider range of employees. 

Impact on industries

Smartglasses with augmented reality (AR) and head-mounted cameras can increase the efficiency of technicians, engineers and other workers in field service, maintenance, healthcare, oil and gas and manufacturing roles, says McIntyre. These devices are expected to have the most impact on heavy industry because AR glasses will support workers to fix equipment and perform manufacturing tasks.

The impact is likely to be medium for mixed industries, such as retail, consumer packaged goods and healthcare, where the benefits may mostly be looking for information through a visual search. In the healthcare industry, for example, smartglasses would facilitate telemedicine and expert consultations with doctors in a different locale, and they would serve as a how-to guide for performing medical procedures. 

Other industries, such as insurance, media and banking will likely experience a low impact from smartglasses, however, there are still potentially beneficial uses. Insurance agents, for example, may use smartglasses to video property that has been damaged and then check on the replacement value of items they have identified using a visual search. Financial institutions and the media will use smartglasses to deliver alerts via subscription services for smartglasses to professionals who need up-to-the-minute information, she says. 

[Read: Smart wearable devices to become an enterprise reality]

CIOs to leverage benefit

“IT organizations are already being asked to make recommendations about whether smartglasses should be used in the workplace based on benefits and risks perspective, as well as policy and implementation,” says McIntyre. However, she believes that now is the time for IT organizations to refresh their bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies with smartglasses in mind. As Debasis Nayak, CIO, Asian School Of Cyber Laws points out that enthusiastic adoption of smart devices in the workplace means CIOs and IT heads need to be extra careful. They need to make sure their organization is not exposed to data security risks. Whatever the mobile device is, security is the key issue.

Gartner too believes that although IT organizations will provide smartglasses to employees who regularly wear them for their job, much of the IT impact may come from employees wearing their personal smartglasses at work and therefore the CIO should be alert and agile and understand its implications before introducing it in the enterprise.