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Will wearable technology change the way we work?

by Sarah Schmid
 
How will this emerging tech trend change the way we work?

So, you’ve just successfully implemented the company’s Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, got your co-workers on board with the idea of using collaborative, mobile software tools to increase productivity, and haven’t had a data security breach in months. Time to sit back and relax for a minute, right?

Wrong. Because on the horizon is a new trend, and it’s quickly gaining traction: wearable technology. Whether it’s Google Glass, Fitbit, or a slew of smart watches, 50 million wearable technology devices are expected to be sold this year, with that number projected to swell to a staggering 180 million by 2018, according to a report1 released by Forrester Research. And we can expect the market for company-provided wearables to be larger than the consumer market within the next five years. So how will this latest tech trend change the way we work?

​Whether it’s Google Glass, Fitbit, or a slew of smart watches, 50 million wearable technology devices are expected to be sold this year, with that number projected to swell to a staggering 180 million by 2018, according to a report1​ released by Forrester Research.

Enterprise will lead the way

Salesforce, the customer relationship management software giant, announced2 last year the launch of Salesforce Wear, its new app development program for wearables. As part of the program, developers have started creating apps for businesses, including one that schedules meetings on the Samsung Gear 2 smartwatch, and another that delivers sales analytics and web traffic data to Pebble.

Salesforce anticipates the growing adoption of wearable technology in part because wearables allow salespeople to stay firmly connected to the digital world, while also remaining present in the real world. For instance, instead of bringing a meeting to a halt in order to check a mobile phone or open a laptop, a wearables user could field updates with quick glances at a smartwatch, all while staying focused on the meeting at hand. With this trend, at least, it seems as though the enterprise is driving adoption.

Customer service on steroids

As we saw with the ubiquity of the smartphone, when new consumer technologies start to seep into the workplace, it usually causes a re-imagining or re-engineering of business processes. Companies will be able to build custom apps to connect new-and-improved business processes and tools to wearable devices. The day is coming when, for example, a remote service provider working on repairing a solar panel can utilize real-time dashboard data, review equipment updates, and receive live feedback—all of it hands-free—from a pair of smartglasses. This has immense promise in the areas of improving productivity and customer service. As always, it comes down to getting your customer-facing workers the tools and information they need, when they need it, to provide the best quality of experience for the customer.

Customized marketing

Just like apps that use geolocation services and push notifications to deliver coupons to customers as they’re walking into a store, wearable technology also has the potential to collect and send a ton of actionable data to interested companies in real time. Connected wearables can offer businesses new, ultra-targeted ways to market and sell products to consumers, potentially improving efficiency and customer satisfaction by leaps and bounds.

Salesforce is making a big play here, as well. It recently introduced its Wear Developer Pack,3 a tool designed to help businesses leverage customer data through wearable technology such as Fitbit and Google Glass. Used in conjunction with Salesforce’s ExactTarget cloud-based marketing product, the technology allows brands to gather information from interactions with customers and deliver social and mobile marketing campaigns. Acting on this data aggregated from customers—to your business’ benefit—is one of the promises of Big Data.

The bottom line is that continually connected wearable technology has the potential to change the way organizations do business. Though we’re still in this trend’s early days, software developers are becoming increasingly interested in building products for wearable devices and ushering in an era where the mobile/digital world blends even more seamlessly with the here and now.

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Sarah Schmid
Sarah Schmid is a writer with more than 15 years of experience in the workforce, with stops including a newspaper newsroom, a political campaign office, and in a government public relations shop, where she became intimately familiar with the key issues that are affecting today’s worker. During her travels, she’s seen it all – horrible bosses, co-workers that have become life-long friends, backstabbing rivals and great mentorship. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Montana and is a resident of Detroit, which she proudly calls “the most fascinating city I’ve ever lived in.”
 
 
1 "Forrester: Enterprise Wearables Will be Mainstream by 2020." Forrester, January 6, 2014, https://www.forrester.com/Forrester+Enterprise+Wearables+Will+Be+Mainstream+By+2020/-/E-PRE6565
2 Press Release, "Salesforce.com Launches Salesforce Wear." Salesforce, June 10, 2014, https://www.salesforce.com/company/news-press/press-releases/2014/06/140611.jsp
3 Juan Martinez, "Salesforce adds automation, wearable device notifications to ExactTarget's Marketing Cloud." TechRadar, July 30, 2014. http://www.techradar.com/news/internet/cloud-services/salesforce-adds-features-to-exacttarget-s-marketing-cloud-including-wearable-device-notifications-1259673