By Daniel Hunter

A new research report, “Putting Wearables to Work: Insights on Wearable Technology in Business,” suggests that as one of the hottest segments in tech, wearables are seen as a strategic platform for improving business performance and are an expanding area of investment.

A study by Salesforce Research demonstrates how adopters of wearables are planning to incorporate wearables into day-­to-­day business processes to improve productivity and connectivity among employees and customers alike.

The study uncovers key insights from five areas surveyed: strategic significance, projected areas of growth, trends in devices, the impact of data insights, and the importance of an expanding app ecosystem. Specific findings include:

Wearables in the enterprise are strategic to business success
● Seventy-­nine percent of adopters agree that wearables are or will be strategic to their company’s future success.
● Seventy-­six percent report improvements in business performance since deploying wearables in the enterprise.
● Eighty-­six percent of adopters plan to increase their wearables spend over the next 12 months.

Use of wearables across the enterprise is expected to triple in the next two years
● Four of the top five growth areas centre around improving the customer experience. The four use cases that help improve the customer experience include: real-­time access to customer data, hands-­free instruction or guides for field service, business analytics and alerts, and remote customer training.
● Use of wearables by customers is being led by integration with mobile devices and loyalty programs, point of sale applications and immersive customer experiences.

Smartwatches are winning the enterprise wearable tech race
● Smartwatches will have the biggest impact and the quickest adoption rate in the enterprise among those surveyed. In fact, 62 percent are using, piloting or planning to use smartwatches in the enterprise in the next two years. Use case examples for smartwatches include:
● Augmented sales intelligence: For a sales team that works remotely or on-­the-­go, sales reps can use natural language speech input to send information directly from the smartwatch to a CRM system.
● Deliver a VIP customer experience: Customer service reps wearing a smartwatch, for example in a retail setting, can be alerted of key customer preferences, allowing them to deliver a high-­touch, highly personalised experience.
● Digital lanyards and smart glasses rank second and third for their expected impact on the enterprise.
● Enable seamless on-­site experiences: RFID badges and lanyards can be deployed at a resort to transact payments and manage access to rooms or VIP areas. The devices also generate data, which can be analysed for insights about better traffic flow within an event site or at particular times of day.
● Minimize down-­time for field service: Smart glasses can provide immediate support to remote field service reps. For example; a repairman on an oil rig could connect to technical diagrams via smart glasses that show the steps required for a repair.

Wearable-­generated data will be an enterprise game-­changer
● Today, only eight percent of wearable adopters say they’re completely ready to gain actionable insights from the volume of employee and customer data generated from wearables. As adoption in the enterprise accelerates, the influx of wearables-­generated data will help businesses make informed decisions in real time.

An expanding enterprise app ecosystem will fuel wearable tech adoption
● Thirty percent of adopters cite the lack of business applications as a primary challenge in deploying wearables.
● As the app ecosystem grows and new hardware enables more complex business scenarios, the number companies embracing wearables in the enterprise will dramatically increase.

“Wearables are the next phase of the mobile revolution. Like smartphones before them, the key to success for wearables in the enterprise is all about the killer business apps,” said Lindsey Irvine, Global Director of Strategic Partnerships, Salesforce. “This research demonstrates the tremendous opportunity for wearable use cases to drive significant business value.”

The report also highlighted how companies can become better prepared to incorporate wearables into their business, such as adoption of policies that support Bring-­Your-­Own-­Wearables (BYOW). While 54 percent of companies already have a BYOW policy in-­place, an additional 40 percent of companies are planning to implement a BYOW policy in the future.

The study by Salesforce Research, which was conducted between February 27-­March 1, 2015, focuses on more than 500 wearable tech adopters across a range of company sizes who said they were currently using, piloting, or planning to deploy wearable technology in business within the next two years.