Despite being a trending topic, wearables still in many ways remain an underdeveloped field that is reserved for tech-hungry geeks and successful athletes. The increasing use of wearable devices in medicine, virtual reality games, music and recreation does not mean they are adopted by the general public, even though all tech giants are working on developing the ‘next big wearable’. So the question is this: is there are place for wearables in business?
Today we look at a few ways wearables can improve productivity and revolutionize business processes:
Personalized office access control systems
Today serious business players are already installing (or at least developing) NFC systems to speed up personalized access of staff members to different office services. Smart offices may prove to be more efficient since every part of the office can be set to recognize wearable devices, the person wearing them and perform automatic operations, adapted to each particular user and situation. From room access to automatic computer log-ins and lockouts, automation can help reduce not only time but the number of security breaches due to carelessness or forgetfulness. Also, because wearables provide a wealth of detailed information on how office premises are used, this data can be analyzed to make rational improvements to managing those resources and cutting costs.
Facilitating smart time management
With wearables, it is much easier for management to monitor employees via task tracking, distance racking, time spent on each client, time spent on similar tasks, and so on. Wearables can be easily synced with different time management software to log in work hours automatically which can speed up project planning. However, employers should always remember that overcontrolling kills productivity and creativity, and therefore keep the balance between “knowing enough” and “interfering with privacy” (we’ll talk about this issue further in this article).
Data access on the go
In the Forrester report, according to J.P. Gownder, “perpetually connected wearables will enable workers, partners, and customers to experience new levels of immediacy, simplicity, and context in their mobile computing experiences”. And that is true: employees can benefit tremendously from wearable devices in context-driven information moments where they can enjoy instant yet discreet access to valuable data. With wearables, relevant information is available hands-free exactly when you need it.
Providing the next level of security
Video surveillance becomes much more informative and interactive with the use of wearables. It is possible that in the future, every visitor will be given a wearable band so that each video snippet of the guest will be tagged with certain keywords. This provides information on visitor’s whereabouts, actions, interactions, and so on. It facilitates monitoring and control of various security parameters in one centralized location. This is not just a chance to heighten security but also to analyze visitor behavior in order to improve visitor experiences and make it more customized. For example, additional staff can be deployed to the right office location to meet the needs of a visiting party.
Location-independent office organization
More and more businesses are favoring the idea of a location-independent office, where teams move freely from room to room, hall to hall, to create a mobile environment that makes work more efficient and the atmosphere more productive. With wearables, mobility can be easily achieved and whole teams can effectively work on PCs that will recognize them and attune their experience to their preset parameters. That way professionals can benefit from the whole range of office services regardless of their location.
Business adoption of wearables will largely depend on how enterprises manage to solve various problems surrounding wearable technology today:
- Security and information leaks. The reliance of wearables on Bluetooth connections, which can be susceptible to attack, demands a viable solution. Some people believe that this problem is exaggerated and because the functionality of wearables is limited, they do not pose a big threat to corporate security. At the same time, each business extensively using wearables must have a system of data loss prevention steps in place but also not forget about common sense security measures that apply to any other digital device. Access to sensitive data and synchronization with accounts on various devices should be monitored and regulated.
- With the use of discreet devices able to record people and surroundings without anyone noticing, business owners are pushed to introduce use policies for wearables in the office space. The policies should clearly state what data can be recorded by wearables, what cannot be recorded without the person’s consent and would be considered invasion of privacy. Each party has to understand where the boundaries are and feel comfortable using wearables. How, where and for how long recorded data will be stored, and whether it would be available to third parties under any circumstances, is another set of questions that still don’t have definite answers to them. Also, it is time to decide whether enterprise wearables can be used for personal needs.
- Inefficient RAM or storage and inability to manage large amounts of data. Wearables cannot substitute desktops or even phones for data storage or management, and they should not be expected to do so. It is therefore important to understand the areas where wearables can increase productivity in the office, and not attempt to use them in areas where other digital devices are doing a great job.
It’s safe to say that there are more questions than answers to the dilemma of how to use wearables in the enterprise. Despite their growing popularity in business, wearables are still at the beginning of their journey in the enterprise and have only limited functionality. But knowing those limitations and discarding unrealistic expectations can help use wearables in a way that allows to streamline some business processes and change the way offices are run for the better.