Enterprise wearables are imminent. It’s been said many times, many ways. This year will be the year–the year of the wearables. 2014, 2015, and soon, 2016. How will we ever know when it’s actually time? In the past week, I encountered something that made me believe the prophets saying that enterprise wearables are indeed just around the corner.
What I found were two signs. Signs that tell us whether businesses are ready for wearables, or perhaps more importantly, if solution providers are ready to roll out wearable solutions to those businesses. The first was at Dreamforce, hosted by Salesforce, our long time partner and recently an investor, and the second sign was the Connected Service Experience hosted by ServiceMax.
Dreamforce is a mega conference attracts the equivalent of over a sixth of San Francisco’s population each year and showcases the latest in enterprise software. Seeing how wearables have transformed over the last three Dreamforce is more than just a statistic. It’s a story.
In 2013, wearables were just a whisper around the conference, with nary a booth or seminar showcasing glasses or watches. The wearables hype was only beginning to rise, with smartwatches like the Sony SmartWatch and the Samsung Galaxy Gear hitting the consumer market, along with announcements of smartglasses like Google Glass. Enterprises were beginning ask the question, will these seemingly magical items empower their workforces?
In 2014, wearables took center stage. Every other seminar touched on wearables and Salesforce Wear dominated Moscone North. APX Labs was there in full force with Epson and Google, showcasing the latest in software for enterprise wearable displays. In the tidal wave that is the life cycle of wearable hype, 2014 was the crest. The question was no longer whether or not wearables would be a part of enterprises, rather how and when.
At Dreamforce 2015, something interesting happened. Wearables no longer held center stage. Instead, wearables were integrated and woven into the booths and seminars as if everyone had decided to wear the same outfit. Each Salesforce demo station was equipped with an Apple Watch as a key component of the standard set up, indicating how integral and commonplace Salesforce believes this technology will become – and we agree. As with any pop hit, wearables are transitioning from being the hip karaoke song to being the song that is played in between all of the other songs as a staple of the industry.
ServiceMax and APX Labs partnered to show a full integration of wearables for field service at Dreamforce this year. From conversations around the booth, in meetings, and around the conference, one of the biggest takeaways from Dreamforce 2015 is this: Industrial IoT (IIoT) and wearables, two of the biggest buzzwords of the past couple years, have matured from hype to hip to an integral part of our lives.
This still leaves the question of *why* wearables and IIoT are becoming a reality. ServiceMax’s Connected Service Experience (CSE) makes the answer readily apparent.
As sponsors of the CSE, APX Labs had the opportunity to network with a ballroom full of enterprises in the field service ecosystem on both the customer and solution provider sides. As we networked, it was apparent that IIoT and wearables were being integrated into many enterprises – the why though, was still elusive.
Then, it all became clear. The leaders of ServiceMax stepped up to the front of the room and presented on the latest features in the newest release and a promise of a better future. While an inspirational presentation, it was not the slides or the words that answered the question of why wearables were becoming integral – it was the audience’s reactions.
While there were occasional head nods of approval throughout, the audience turned into a veritable sea of bobble heads when the presentation topic turned to remote assistance. The demo consisted of connecting workers in the field with remote experts using a video chat. The excitement wasn’t around the video chat itself (let’s face it, video chat isn’t anything new); the excitement was around the deep integration with a mature field service product that everyone loves.
Video chat is more than just a face on the screen; it represents connectivity and communication. Enterprises are beginning to integrate IIoT and wearables because these two buzzwords are packed with solutions that, just like video chat, increase the connectivity, communication, and as a result, efficiency of the workforce.
Dreamforce and CSE have shown us a glimpse of reality. Wearables and IIoT have matured past the hype phase – but what does this really mean for enterprises?
For enterprise customers, it means ensuring your current technology solution providers have a plan for wearables. If they don’t, it’s time to find one that does and integrates with your existing technology stack, or find a new solution altogether. For enterprise software providers, it has become critically important to stay ahead of the wearable curve. If not already done, it’s time to embed wearables as a vital component of their mobility solutions.
In short, customers should be prepared for the rapid emergence of wearables in the enterprise and solution providers should already be integrating and showcasing them into their offering. Between Dreamforce and ServiceMax’s CSE, we’ve learned that integration of wearables in the enterprise is just around the corner because companies are pushing to increase the connectivity and communication within their organization. It’s time to get ready for a new generation of devices that will transform how work is done everywhere.