Enterprises: beware, or be aware, of wearables

hit446 enterprises beware or be aware of wearablesIn July global enterprise software-as-a-service company Salesforce announced Salesforce Wear, billing it "the industry's first initiative for wearable computing in the enterprise."

Salesforce also introduced a software developer's pack that "empowers developers to kick-start their ability to connect companies with their customers in entirely new ways through apps for wearables."

A few months later, responding to suggestions that Salesforce was "just jumping on the [wearables] bandwagon, EMEA president, Miguel Milano, said: "We're not investing in this area because it's trendy and cool, we want to be there at the centre of the emerging wearables category because we believe wearables will allow companies to connect with their customers in whole new ways."

Research firm Frost & Sullivan has just published a report Wearable Technology – Has the next enterprise game changer arrived? that, it says, "throws light on the state of this emerging technology and its potential impact on enterprises."

F&S puts the market for wearables in Asia Pacific as being worth $US8.5 billion and expects it to grow to $US37 billion over the next five years, a CAGR of around 34 percent. It expects uptake of wearables in enterprises to be much faster, with "volume shipments poised to grow at a CAGR of around 75 percent in the period 2014-2018."

F&S says the three most important drivers propelling the market forward are:

  • the explosion of the Internet of Things ecosystem and the potential of wearables to act as the gateway to the IoT world;
  • the ability of wearables to provide contextual computing capabilities that open up new avenues of growth and possibilities;
  • several disruptive attributes of wearables that empower the wearer with enhanced capabilities.

In short, wearable technology is likely to have a big impact on enterprises, and soon. With this conclusion comes a warning from F&S: "Regardless of the size of your organisation, the industry you operate in and the nature of your customer(s), wearables will change the way you work, compete and deliver value in the market place. And, as with all disruptive innovations, the early movers will thrive while the laggards will struggle to survive."

And how fast will be this disruption? At a workshop on wearables during Dreamforce, Salesforce's annual conference in October, a comparison was made between the incursion of wearables into the enterprise and that of mobile devices.

It is only about five years since Bring Your Own Devices meant senior executives giving IT a hard time because they wanted to use their smartphones, and particularly their iPads (launched in 2010), to access company IT systems. Now, so the analysts tell us, mobility must be at the core of corporate IT strategy.

So how long before wearables follow a similar trajectory? About 12 months, in Salesforce's view. That is scary!

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