Imagine a world where you no longer need to carry any phones, tablets or laptops when you're out and about. Instead you are wearing every device you will ever need on your wrist. From your smartwatch you will be able to call, text, go online, pay for things, take a photo, and even manage your work from the device. Early generations are still maturing, and in the realm of early adopter status, but the optimisim and enthusiasm for the hardware suggest it is an ecosystem where we will see more applications and functions begin to flourish.
One such example of where it is starting to ramp up, is the UK market which is predicted to reach a value of £313.6 million by the end of 2014. Many brands are hoping that the upcoming Christmas period will finally see a breakthrough for wearable technology into the consumer space or certainly soon after as Apple throws its considerable weight behind the market.
But it's not just consumers who can benefit, businesses too are looking at how the devices can impact the workplace. Some argue wearables will need to take off first in the enterprise before they really take a foothold with masses of consumers. For many of us, mobile devices are already well and truly integrated into both our personal lives and work lives, so why shouldn't there be a natural progression with wearables following in its footsteps?
Right now the smartwatch has two ways that it can bring real and measurable impact to a business, firstly the benefits it brings to its employees and secondly the implications to the business itself. Whether this is efficiency, accuracy or improved customer service. We are seeing lots of pilots and projects taking place with varying levels of success, but we are in a period of great experimentation so it is not going to be perfect first time every time.
Today it's great for notifications but in the future it will be about action. It has the ability to bring functionality to workers in a more convenient and seamless way. Take staff shifts for example, if you needed to take a day off at short notice, you can simply use your watch to send a notification to your colleagues and see who is and isn't working on shifts with you so you swap without little fuss.
Whatever your role, the smartwatch, even in its early versions today, can help with admin duties whether it's logging holiday time away, filling-in your time sheets or if you're job involves being out and about; recording where you have been, how long you've been and whatever the report or actions are. Admin is often the dreaded but necessary burden. It has the capabilities to become an admin facilitator and take on the more time-consuming tasks from employees, enabling workers to concentrate on the job in hand and optimise their roles which in turn will only benefit the business.
Many of these functionalities can already be carried out on a smartphone but, this can be intrusive, still needs to be held in hand, and sometimes gets lost in the bottom of your bag or the boot of your car. For example, is it inappropriate to pull a phone out from your pocket when you're in a customer service role, such as a police offer or a waiter? And when you've got a service job where you need both hands such as an engineer, it's just not even possible to hold. A smartwatch solves all of these issues, providing the same functionality but it's a much more subtle and natural motion. The field service industry is a great example of one of the first places where we believe wearable technology will add value.
It's only just the start for the smartwatch and with the next-generation of BYOD on the horizon, businesses need to start preparing for the next wave of technology to hit the workplace - making lives easier for both customers and employees. Hopefully we won't have to wait as long as we did for workforces to become truly mobile.