Wearables in the Enterprise -- Reasons for Caution

Blog /Wearables-in-the-Enterprise-Reasons-for-Caution

In a previous post, I discussed wearable devices in the enterprise and what industries are saying about them. While many want to be on the “edge” of technology and innovation and increasingly cater to the millennial generation who are seemingly the early adopters, enterprises are being cautious in large-scale investments in the wearables market. In this post, I’d like to explore some of the reasons for this caution.

Lack of consistent use
Wearables provide the unique benefit of being ever-present, but users will not be looking at them all the time, and will often ignore them when involved in other activities. In addition, they may be removed periodically throughout the day. For example, some companies noted that they wouldn’t wear Google Glass all day which means that apps cannot assume that the user received a critical notification. It may be in the notification history, but that doesn’t mean the user was paying attention to it when it came in, or that the user will go back to see it later. This makes it particularly challenging to know when to mark something as “read.”

Insufficient security, safety
Security is another major challenge enterprises are citing as a potential deterrent to immediate adoption. Wearables in general, but Google Glass in particular, pose security, privacy, and safety risks.

The device can be distracting and dangerous while operating machinery or vehicles, and it isn’t built to withstand high impact physical activities. (The Glass prism can break and go into the user’s eye.) Many devices are equipped with a camera and microphone, which may pose privacy or information security risks (e.g., HIPAA), or violate policies of restricted locations. It is also difficult to sterilize, which can be problematic in sterile locations. And, because Glass and other wearables do not have keyboards, it is difficult to use passwords or passcodes to authenticate users, although NTT DATA has a solution that addresses this.

Limited features
On desktops and laptops it is easy to include as many features as needed. On tablets and phones, it is more difficult, so some features are removed or limited.  However, on very small wearable devices, such as Google Glass and smartwatches, the app must only include features that are absolutely necessary. The screens are too small (and the interactions are too short) for complex apps which can be limiting for some company use cases. The focus should be on what can be removed, rather than what can be added. Including too many features or data elements makes the entire app cumbersome and difficult. Wearables also present the added problem of requiring glanceable designs. Users will not spend more than a few seconds looking at the screen, since they use these devices while they are on the go or multitasking.

Finally, companies are also finding devices to be fragile and lacking sufficient battery life and overall maturity, and are not cost-justifiable in their current form factor for enterprise prime time.

Speed-to-market, maturity affect future adoption
Based on the above, I personally believe that, while there will still be interest in wearables and the market in some segments will grow (Consumer healthcare, smart accessories and jewelry, smart watches etc.), enterprises will take a very cautious approach to making major investments or adding wearables to their enterprise or product roadmap. There will still be POC work being sparked by the IoT movement and proliferation of multidevice/ multichannel and immersive experience needs end customers have, but that work will take some time before it becomes mainstream. I believe that device vendors will also continue to mature the various form factors for wearables in the enterprise, similar to Google Glass who are rethinking their approach to the market. The speed of adoption at the enterprise level will be directly proportional with the maturity and speed to market of new and improved wearables devices that consumers can quickly and easily use in their day-to-day lives without impacting productivity. It’s an interesting road ahead and one with a lot of learnings to be had before we get to a steady state.

Post Date: 7/20/2015

Shamlan Siddiqi - NTT DATA Shamlan Siddiqi

About the author

Shamlan Siddiqi is CTO for NTT DATA's Public Sector Business Unit. Previously, Shamlan successfully lead the Digital Experience Practice in both top line and bottom line growth year over year and against AOP. He is a results-oriented leader with an extensive track record developing and leading the implementation of innovative solutions and strategies and building and motivating high-performance teams. He is a published author and speaker, and holds a Master’s degree from the George Washington University.