What’s the fuss about wearables?

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Wearable devices are a rising tech trend. But while these devices appear to have taken the consumer world by storm will we see the same kind of penetration in the world of business?

From the Apple watch and Google Glass to the new line up of the latest Android smartwatches, there has been a burst of creativity around wearable tech. While media interest is extensive, many of us are still left wondering if these devices are really going to be of use as anything other than very expensive pedometers.

The only precedent we can really look to is when mobile devices were first introduced into the workforce. Large, expensive and impractical, they initially saw slow adoption rates. Once the technology was mastered and made available to the mass market, however, they went on to change the face of business.

More recently, tablets had an almost instant impact on the workplace, forcing IT managers to react quickly and adopt new bring your own device (BYOD) strategies. It’s perhaps too early to tell what the uptake might be for wearable devices but IT managers and CIOs should understand the potential benefits and challenges of supporting these devices should they begin to filter into the enterprise.

More connected employees

Wearable tech could enable employees to stay connected in the way that works best for them. We already know a connected employee is generally a more engaged, satisfied and productive one, and wearables offer new levels of flexibility for the connected worker.

If you’re waiting for an important email or notification a subtle glance down at a smartwatch can be a lot more polite than checking your phone mid-meeting. The ability to bring up information on a Google Glass type device could be invaluable in a sales situation where ready access to stats and information could be the difference between sealing or losing a deal.

Knowledge is power

One of the most popular ways wearables have been used in recent years is to track activity, steps, movement and even heart rate. While this has helped to improve fitness and encourage healthy habits, it could also provide useful data for businesses.

The same technology could be used to track the movements of workers within the supply chain. It could also be used to optimise building use, for example switching off heat or electricity in parts of the building where no workers are present. Real-time data can be an invaluable asset to businesses and wearables might be the answer to leveraging this asset in a way that provides benefits to both parties.

The future of wearables is still unclear and 20 years from now we could be remembering the corporate smartwatch that never was or be unable to imagine our lives without these devices. Much of this will depend on businesses finding the right use and business cases for wearables.