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Watch This Space... Why Wearables Will Be Substance Over Style

29/04/2015 12:04 BST | Updated 29/06/2015 10:59 BST

Remember when Bluetooth headsets hit the scene, and we all wondered why, all of a sudden, so many people were walking around talking to themselves? I wonder how long it will take for it to become the norm to go about with your eyes glued to your wrist. My guess is probably not that long.

The launch of the Apple Watch on Friday proved yet another example of how consumers are behind the wheel of technology adoption. With an estimated 2.3million pre-orders, Apple's latest stroke of genius is set to follow in the footsteps of its 'i-device' siblings. It's hard to imagine, but back when the iPad hit the shelves five short years ago, many people dismissed it as an indulgence. Now, you'd be lucky to find a human being who wouldn't trade their left arm for one - well, apart from if they're the proud, new owner of the Apple timepiece.

But the fervour of consumption should not distract us from the big questions around the growth of this new technology. If we've learned anything from the past, we know that shortly after taking the consumer world by storm, the Apple Watch will have captured the world of work too. Far from being just a gadget for technology thrill-seekers, the device has massive potential to increase productivity and boost competitive edge.

Look at the iPhone, for example. As consumers, we found it very quickly became a command centre for our lives, helping us to manage our diaries, travel, finance, friends and, even, the central heating. It didn't take us long to work out we could also run our businesses from our pockets. It was a similar story with the iPad; not only did it transform our very existence as consumers, but within 90 days of its release, it had penetrated half of Fortune 100 companies. The accessibility that consumers would experience with these devices would also work wonders in the business realm.

The growth of wearable technology represents the final stage of that transition and is set to follow the same path. We're soon going to be running both our personal and our work lives from our wrists. And sooner than we think.

In fact, of over 500 companies that are already using wearables, 62% are using or planning to use smart watches in the next two years as a way to improve productivity and connectivity among employees and customers alike.

And interestingly, four out of the top five growth areas are customer-centric, suggesting that SMEs in particular, are the kind of organisations that will benefit most from the convenience and flexibility such wearable technology provides.

Hard-working entrepreneurs of all sorts, operating at a rapid pace - and not necessarily always in front of a computer - can really benefit from the single point of management offered by devices like the Apple Watch.

Checking orders, tracking payments, keeping in touch with customers and suppliers, with all that potential for efficiency at their fingertips, wearable technology is set to usher in a new age of efficiency through connectivity and convenience. In the months that follow the launch, don't be surprised if the owner of your local shop or taxi driver is sporting one.

This technology will be embraced. Now the onus is on business application developers to create the tools that small business users want and need to make their lives more convenient.

SMEs are looking to new technology to be right at the heart of their operations, giving them on-the-fly access to all the resources and information traditionally available to desk-bound office workers.

The real benefit to SMEs is the potential for these devices to deliver accounting apps, scheduling and CRM tools to help them make significant efficiency and productivity gains in their organisations.

Now, more than ever before, mobile technology is offering SMEs a true competitive advantage, one that many larger organisations are struggling to match. Wearable technology is the natural extension of that. The exciting part will be seeing exactly how innovative organisations take advantage of this new technology. And, more importantly, exactly what the next generation of business applications will enable.

The wearable revolution is here. So, the next time you see someone furiously tapping and swiping at their wrist, spare a thought that it's only a matter of time before we're all at it.