Wearables Make Big Impact at Mobile World Congress, Here’s What You Need to Know
Wearable technology is taking a big leap into the enterprise mainstream thanks to innovation that’s improving the depth and breadth of devices along with a growing desire among organizations to amplify their workforces with next-gen gear.
At the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, wearables were front and center from the keynote stage to the exhibitor hall. Whether discussing strategic views of mobile-enabled enterprises or showing off specific developments in tactical wares, most here agreed wearable technology is coming into its own in the workplace.
According to industry estimates, the wearables market is poised to skyrocket from 22 million devices shipped last year to nearly 135 million by 2018. Earlier this year, Lopez Research found that 38 percent of enterprise IT decision makers were interested in wearables. Most said they felt their organizations would deploy business-grade wearables in 12 to 18 months.
Getting wearables to work isn’t just about selling the hottest tech innovation, however. Enterprise CIOs need to hear how the technology will really benefit their organization in the form of a sound business case, insiders say.
“We are now shifting the business process of our enterprise customers to adopt wearables,” Jurgen Winandi, head of augmented reality integration at Swiss telecom giant Swisscom AG, said at the MWC event. “First we check how digital is their business, because before you go mobile, you have to be digital. When we have a digital and a mobile business we can say now, inside your business process we’re going to … use wearables where it makes sense.
“You need a business case and then the business will say, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.”
“We do a lot of discovery sessions with customers. Finding the business value, the business drivers, usually comes relatively quickly,” said Josh Waddell, vice president of mobile solution management for SAP. “We have to look at why wearables would be used. Is it improved safety? Is it that you can do your job better or faster?
“The points we spend more time on is how do we design the actual experience,” Waddell added.
Waddell said his company’s primary focus in the realm of wearables is on field service technicians, an area where the business case is most obvious. “We can use [wearables] to confirm that a technician is looking at the correct part… and access a remote expert for assistance. Using these technologies you can prevent a broken service call, which is the number one concern.”
Mobile world Congress, sponsored by the Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA), boasted a record 93,000 attendees from 200 countries this year, up from around 87,000 last year. Other major themes at the event included developments in smartphone processor technology, mobile security, virtual reality, connected automobiles, and next-generation 5G mobile networks.
Learn More: Integrate wearables into your workforce