Enterprise Wearables: What's On Deck For 2015?

by Sohini Bagchi    Dec 18, 2014

smartwatch

“Wearable technology will create a new era of power dressing for business leaders,” according to Samsung researchers, who believe that instead of a power suit, the business leaders of our decade will rely on connected wearables and the first wave of that change will be smart watches. While Samsung already has five different varieties of smart watches in its kitty this year, and is significantly investing in smart connected devices, it would be interesting to look into the enterprise wearable space in 2014 in general and see what’s in store in the coming year.

A Window of opportunity

While the first buzz on wearables was around Google Glass which was expected to trigger BYOD trend in corporate IT, Apple’s recent partnership with IBM is perhaps one of the landmark unions that is likely to cause a wearables explosion among businesses in the coming months.With IBM capitalizing on BYOD and Apple getting a bigger enterprise play, the deal has comes in at an exciting time, believe experts.

Read on: How Apple-IBM Deal Can Boost Mobile Enterprise

The year 2014 that’s soon going to pass by and usher in another exciting year, can open up a window of opportunity for companies to drive new models and devices for competitive advantage. The ongoing year has already paved its way as we have seen the emergence of Android wear – Moto 360 – which despite several flaws - is the first major wearable platform, and a huge first step for Google. With watches made by manufacturers ranging from Asus to Samsung, 2015 should be a huge year for Android Wear.

The year also saw Microsoft taking an important step towards smart fitness bands, with heart rate tracking, UV sensing, GPS-mapping, and with a full set of watch-like message notifications to boot, although there are rooms for improvement.

Samsung too launched 5 watches, including Samsung Gear S and fitness bands – Gear Live and Gear Fit, all of them working with Samsung phones. The company will see more sound strategies to keep the momentum going, believe experts.

Apple Watch, which was already announced this year, will see it taking off in 2015, giving enterprises a new dimension in the wearable tech landscape. Experts believe, Apple Watch, along with Android Wear and Samsung’s Gear platform, will advance watch apps to strange new territories.

What’s In Store?

Gartner predicted that among the wearables, smart garments would pick up pace over smartwatches/smartbands in 2015. Smart garment shipments are forecast to grow from 0.1 million units in 2014 to 26 million units in 2016.

The research firm believes these smart connected devices offer huge potential for enterprise consumers as well as marketers. Be it Apple Watch or Google Glass, wearable devices are redefining the technology experience. As an article in WIRED stated, “the newest wearable devices aim to reduce the time between intention and action, going so far as the day when the device knows what users want before they want it.”

According to IDC wearable shipments will generate a 78.4% CAGR between 2013 and 2018, eventually hitting 111.9 million worldwide shipments by the end of the aforesaid period. “The increased buzz has prompted more vendors to announce their intentions to enter this market. Most importantly, users have warmed to their simplicity in terms of design and functionality, making their value easy to understand and use,” said Ramon Llamas, research manager of mobile phones at IDC.

Read on: Wearables Are Reshaping Marketing Strategies

In its recent research, Samsung too has identified certain key trends in enterprise wearables. According to the Smartphone maker, business users will restructure their working lives around personal “Power Hours’’ – as technology reveals peak performance times. Moreover, virtual reality technology and the innovative use of displays will lead to a new generation of digital shops, allowing retailers to overcome space constraints, it says.

The research found that 47 percent of wearable tech users felt more intelligent, 61 percent felt more informed and efficient, and 37 percent claimed that the wearable helped with their career development.

Valentine Matula, senior director and head of Emerging Products and Technology at Avaya writes in a blog that among others, enterprise wearables will find its usage in the contact center and in collaboration environments. As technology advances, wearables will predictably become an interesting communication tool.

“Customer facing, wearables provide a new way for consumers to interface with service representatives can lead to increased customer loyalty and the potential for new customer adoption. From a business stand point it leads to greater efficiency,” he writes giving the example of how a bank can  cut costs though centralizing and reducing customer service staff (especially in low-traffic regions) to call center locations where they can take inquiries from customers across the nation through either an app or a video-enabled ATM, say, by integrating a video strategy possibly enabled by Google Glass.

Likewise, employee facing wearables can help with everyday tasks. For example, a wristband with an RFID chip might automatically log an agent out of a workstation when he or she leaves their desk for lunch, avoiding incoming calls to an agent’s empty desk.

With a number of players and many more smart devices in the wearable ecosystem, it can be said that 2015 will be an exciting one for enterprise wearables. How many will emerge, stay and create a buzz remains to be seen.