Wearables at Work: Is the Enterprise Ready?

Carl Weinschenk
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2015 Wearable Tech Trends: Swank Meets Science

The line between consumer and business technology has gotten increasingly blurry during the past decade. Consumer devices are almost indistinguishable from enterprise gear. But the gap between software and applications in each category is far wider.

That’s a good thing to understand as wearables become more common at work. This conversation between Jim Haviland, VoxMobile’s chief strategy officer and IT Business Edge’s Don Tennant gives a good overview of the current situation with wearables. At one point, Haviland makes clear that the real action will be on the software front:

Hardware always gets the headlines, but apps are where the value creation happens in the enterprise. We have been using the mantra, ‘the right information on the right screen at the right time,’ because the key to valuable innovation with mobility is all about application success and user experience. Wearables expand the possibilities for how and when people interact with apps and data, which can lead to more dramatic successes.

Get ready to hear a lot more about wearables expressly targeted at the enterprise. Intel, for instance, aims to put its muscle behind the wearable enterprise market. At VentureBeat’s Mobile Summit, Steve Holmes, the vice president of Intel’s new devices group, said that enterprise wearables pose some “huge opportunities” for businesses and users.

Maribel Lopez, principal of the research firm that bears her name, certainly agrees. She addressed the issue of wearables in a post at Forbes:

While most of the market has focused on consumer wearable adoption, Lopez Research believes there’s a strong market for wearables in the enterprise.  Last quarter, Lopez Research asked 300 IT leaders for their options on using wearables within their companies. In the survey, Lopez Research defined wearables as smart watches, wristbands, and glasses. Over a third (38%) of the companies surveyed were interested in wearables.


Lopez writes that some verticals—she mentions health care, oil and gas, manufacturing and logistics—are more interested than others. Companies in these sectors are running pilots. Overall, however, she said that a majority of responding companies say it will be 12 to 18 months before they use wearables.

A case even can be made that enterprises are a better target, at least at this point, than the consumer market. Patrick Moorhead wrote in CIO that consumer wearable products as a whole are not ready for prime time. He sees the enterprise as an earlier target. His view is that there are use cases that focus on saving money and time and on improving productivity, safety and efficiency, which are all issues hugely beneficial to organizations.

Enterprise planners know a good thing when they see it. Wearables will have a big impact and it will begin to be felt very soon.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

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