1. Types of Wearables in the Enterprise
Wearables are not just about smart watches or Apple Watch. Enterprises are already using a variety of smart devices. Accenture classifies wearable gadgets into Monocular (Example: Google Glass), Immersive (Example:Oculus Rift) and Wrist-worn (Example:Apple Watch) and goes on to give interesting examples of how these devices can be used in the enterprise. Google Glass type devices (the product has been withdrawn but is slated to make a reappearance) can be used by retail store associates to look up inventory or customer purchase history on the floor. Immersive virtual reality or augmented reality devices can provide construction workers access to CAD drawings or finished building. Smart watches could be used to send safety alerts to employees working in mines or provide location-based information or alerts.
2. Ecosystem needed to Support Wearables in the Enterprise
Supporting wearable devices in an enterprise will require several additional components to come together. They include:
Interaction Design to provide contextual information with limited screen sizes / processing power to contend with.
Integration of wearable devices with core enterprise applications and managing multiple wearable devices and the apps that run on them will be a big challenge for the CIO organization. Its BYOD all over again!
Data Visualization and presentation for the data gathered by wearable devices will be a key requirement. Accenture has identified active and passive data collection opportunities such as recording videos or measuring the air temperature or even heart rates of employees doing risky jobs.
Privacy and Security will attract special attention as employee activity tracking will raise lots of privacy questions. Data security need to be extended to wearable devices as well.
3. Challenges and Future Potential for Wearables in the Enterprise
The promise of wearables can be realized only when products have a large and diverse app ecosystem to fuel adoption. Currently, due to a fragmented market, there is no comparable app ecosystem as seen with iOS and Android but more apps are being built as you read this blog post. As the use cases are unique, developers are also figuring out the best approaches to building apps for wearable devices. Things should improve considerably in the next 18 months. Enterprises might want to take a wait and watch approach to see if a clear winner emerges so that all supporting infrastructure can be designed for the market leaders (just ask people who developed apps for Blackberry).