In a survey commissioned by APX Labs on the state of wearable technology in the enterprise, 93 percent of IT and business decisions makers surveyed indicated that their organizations are already using or actively exploring wearables. In addition, 87 percent said they believe wearable technology will have a significant impact in their industry within the next five years.
The survey of 201 enterprise IT decision makers in generally large industrial companies revealed that nearly every sector has already started using wearable devices, including smart watches (61 percent of companies), activity trackers (60 percent), indoor location sensors/beacons (52 percent), wearable mobile cameras (48 percent) and smart glasses (42 percent). Companies also are commonly working with multiple vendors and types of devices and 83 percent of respondents had active initiatives with two or more types of wearable devices.
The uses for wearable technologies in the enterprise are broad and decision makers have been evaluating their use in multiple scenarios and job functions. Responses indicate that there is no one single killer app, but instead companies appear to be pursing wearables as an operational technology that can span the enterprise. Eighty-six percent of respondents indicated that their organizations are using wearable devices today in multiple operational scenarios, but it is especially prevalent for inspection, manufacturing and field service/repair activities.
Wearables uniquely enable employees to be connected to information while working hands-free. It appears that the ROI potential for these scenarios is driving the adoption of wearables. Today, 49 percent of companies have pilot or production initiatives underway, and 70 percent indicated they expect very high levels of benefits in terms of reduced time, effort and re-work while also improving production quality, employee safety, and process flexibility.
The results indicate that job functions where people are mobile and working with machines or tools are the areas where buyers expect wearable technologies to provide the most value. These areas also tend to have large numbers of employees with corresponding large potential scale of impact on the business. On average, respondents said wearable technology is valuable and could be deployed to about 45 percent of their employee base.
Of all wearable devices, smart glasses are poised for the greatest growth in the upcoming year. Fifty percent of respondents indicated they have plans for evaluation and use of these devices in the next twelve months, up from 42 percent currently using them. The most common use for smart glasses is for manufacturing/assembly activities. Maintenance, warehousing, installation and operations uses also drew significant responses.
Wearable technologies are poised to be the next enterprise mobile platform, particularly smart glasses and smart watches. Engineers and developers creating wearable devices, applications and platforms should focus their efforts on helping organizations speed manufacturing, improve collaboration, achieve greater operational efficiency and increase productivity, as these are the areas users are looking to deploy wearable technologies in immediately.