Thanks to the buzz around Google GlassTM, the PebbleTM smartwatch and various fitness tracking devices, consumers have become more aware of this burgeoning technology, incorporating wearables into their daily lives.
However, there are much bigger opportunities for deploying wearable technologies. In fact, there are business cases across enterprises that could save them billions of dollars—especially for specific industries and certain types of workers. Accenture Labs believes wearable displays will begin with companies, not consumers.
Wearables can boost employee efficiency by providing real-time data access while freeing hands to hold tools or equipment. Wearable displays can also enable powerful video collaboration, connecting field workers with more experienced colleagues who can see exactly what the field worker is seeing. And wearables can make it faster and easier for enterprises to make business decisions, compressing the time between intention and action down to seconds.
Enterprises will need to recognize the tradeoffs that come with wearables and develop strategies to address them. Screen real estate is one consideration. Some tasks are better suited for desktops with large screens. Others tasks are more suited toward wearables with tiny screens that provide instant notifications, contextual information and unmatched portability.
We define wearables as always on, connected computing displays that are worn on the body for easy, hands-free access to show contextually relevant information. This functionality makes it possible to support, augment and optimize the workforce, especially “deskless” employees who need to do hands-free work and access to real-time information. For example, companies could use the camera on a wearable display to see what an employee sees while they perform tasks in the field, and employees could access information from various enterprise systems to do their day-to-day job more quickly and easily. As such, we see wearables as a critical component of the broader industrial Internet trend and advancement of everywhere computing.
Enterprises can begin entering the wearable market by looking for appropriate uses within their business. A good starting point is finding tasks that consistently require desk less employees to work with their hands while referring to various data sources. It is important to test hypotheses of how the wearable display usage trumps existing tablet, smartphone or desktop applications for feasibility, ease of implementation, impact and costs.
Next, enterprises should evaluate which type of wearable display best solves the business problem, instead of jumping to conclusions about the one to implement. It is important to build a demonstration and test assumptions with a few passionate stakeholders. Top companies will experiment with what works and does not, and then learn and iterate quickly.