Does the Watch Fit the Enterprise?

by Mark Hemmer

The Apple Watch is almost here, but does it fit into the enterprise?

It’s a question worth answering as wearable technology becomes this year’s arms race.

In typical fashion, Apple didn’t play its hand early when Android-compatible smartwatches hit the market in the last few years. Instead, it waited and developed the Apple Watch, which has the entire modern world waiting anxiously for its release.

Wearable technology is quickly becoming the most scaled-down version of Apple’s offerings. As the iPhone continues to get larger and tablets like the iPad shrink, those concepts are on the verge of blending together. The next logical progression is the introduction of an unobtrusive wearable tech piece, able to be on your person at all times, while maintaining the essential capabilities you expect from your handheld devices. That’s where the Apple Watch fits in.

The Apple Watch is going to push the category forward and will almost definitely inspire many imitators, once competitors see how—when done right—wearable tech will start to supplant our need to pull a phone from a pocket or a tablet from a bag. That “hands free” feature is a key issue and leads, naturally, to many business uses. TechTarget breaks down some of them:

"Wearables may also be able to remotely manage equipment, such as machinery on an assembly line, making the workplace safer for employees. Workers who need to wear special suits, such as environmental disaster teams, could have hands-free access to data on a smartwatch. Any user who needs instant access to important data—members of sales teams, real estate agents, lawyers, rural doctors, law enforcement and fire fighters, military personnel and more—can benefit from using wearables in the workplace."

If the Apple Watch becomes a staple, it opens up a brand-new set of questions on how to manage wearable tech in the workplace. How do you manage employee tech that’s on—and on them—all the time? While answers to those questions will still emerge, the benefits of wearables in general have already been demonstrated:

  • Safety. Doctors can check vital signs and monitor patient status without distraction. Employees of all kinds can be notified instantly of hazards or emergencies—even if they’re doing anything else that ties their hands up.
  • Training. Employees can be given step-by-step instructions on a procedure or process through wearable tech. It’s a perfect, quick-reference solution that can eliminate the need to print and distribute hundreds of manuals and allow for literal “hands-on” training.
  • Wayfinding. Powered by iBeacons and voice activation, wearable tech can help in navigating a facility (hospital, warehouse, factory) with haptic feedback. This feature could effectively replace maps or legends.
  • Monitoring. By using “glances,” wearable tech can monitor the status of a piece of equipment, patient, process, etc. Besides getting important information out more quickly, wearables allow processes to be monitored all the time.
  • Access. Wearables can stand in for traditional means of access. Instead of carrying a key fob or badge, wearable tech could be easily programmed to monitor employees going in and out of the workplace, improving security and giving employees hassle-free access to where they need to be.
  • Public service. Public servants can use wearable tech to better the community. Police officers could access records while walking a beat or on bike patrol. Wearables could be used to identify suspects, license plates and location of other units, while providing documentation of arrests or general police activity to ensure proper conduct.
  • Construction. Any job requiring heavy concentration and the use of one’s hands will benefit from a device that removes distraction and the need to physically interact. Construction is a great example, and in addition to the inherent benefits, workers could access their work plan and continue to improve the distribution of information across the site.

The Apple Watch is coming soon—whether or not the world is ready. We think it is. The enterprise has room for the next step in technology, and 2015 is going to be the proving ground that it not only fits, but will grow, adapt and thrive. iBi

Adapted from, originally published on February 4, 2015.

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